Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar


Blocking a Nuclear-Free Mideast

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

With a large undeclared arsenal of nukes and the missiles to deliver them, Israel ranks as the world’s top rogue nuclear state, even as it threatens to bomb Iran over the theoretical possibility of building a single nuclear weapon, hypocrisy backed up by the U.S., as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

Drone Warfare’s Costs and Benefits

A Predator drone firing a missile.

Lethal drones are President Obama’s weapon of choice in striking at suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists in remote areas, but – as with any weapon of war – there must be a cost-benefit analysis, including whether drone strikes create more enemies than they kill, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

False Comparison of N. Korea to Iran

Near the ceasefire line between North and South Korea, President Barack Obama uses binoculars to view the DMZ from Camp Bonifas, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Opponents of a nuclear-limitation deal with Iran often cite the failed effort to constrain North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But the two cases are dramatically different – from the levels of inspection involved to the nature of the political systems – as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

The Value of Effective Government

National Transportation Safety Board officials examine site of Amtrak derailment, which occurred on May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (NTSB photo)

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution envisioned an activist federal government that would help build the new country, including transportation infrastructure, but that history has been lost amid Tea Party revisionism that treats all constructive government actions as bad, a dilemma addressed by ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

US Politics Gives Saudis an Edge

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, in the Oval Office, Sept. 13, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

If President Obama were speaking solely for U.S. national interests, he would offer a stern rebuke, not gentle reassurance, to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States during a Camp David summit, but domestic politics and Israeli pressure will constrain any frankness, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Two Approaches toward Nationalism

Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang terrorists: 1. Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), 2. Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), 3. Natan Friedman-Yelin

Despite a difficult history, Scotland and England have approached their modern differences within the democratic process – with Scottish nationalists sweeping recent parliamentary elections – but Israel has chosen cruel repression toward the Palestinians leading to a very different result, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Entangled in Sunni-Shiite Wars

President Obama and King Salman Arabia stand at attention during the U.S. national anthem as the First Lady stands in the background with other officials on Jan. 27, 2015, at the start of Obama's State Visit to Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Early U.S. presidents warned against “entangling” foreign alliances, but they never suspected America might be drawn into squabbles between Sunnis and Shiites dating back to the Seventh Century succession of Prophet Muhammad. But that now seems to be the case, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

Mixed Signals on the Middle East

The U.S. Capitol. (Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol)

On one level the Congressional failure to authorize war on the Islamic State while seeking to sabotage the peaceful nuclear accord with Iran would seem to fit neatly with the interests of the Saudi-Israeli alliance as it presses for “regime change” in Syria and Iran, but there are other factors afoot, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Inventing a Record of Iranian Aggression

Iranian women attending a speech by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Iranian government photo)

Following the lead of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Official Washington’s neocons are hyping Iran’s record as an aggressor state, with some examples harkening back to the Sixteenth Century and other more recent cases simply not true, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Obama Tries His Hand at ‘Realism’

President Richard Nixon with his then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in 1972.

President Obama is what might be called a “closet realist” who often pounds his fists upon the table while shaking hands under the table. He has to pull off this trick because of America’s ugly partisan realities, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.