Tag Archive for Paul R. Pillar

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The Oil-Crash Diplomatic Mirage

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Rome, Italy, on Dec. 14, 2014. (State Department photo)

Official Washington’s latest “group think” is that the drop in oil prices will bring Russia and Iran to their knees ready to do whatever the U.S. demands. But this analysis is a miscalculation that could cause President Obama to miss diplomatic opportunities to resolve disputes, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The Islamic State Stumbles

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative.

Last summer, there was widespread hysteria across Official Washington over the seemingly unstoppable expansion of the brutal Islamic State – and handwringing over President Obama’s limited military response – but the jihadist momentum now shows signs of stalling, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

‘Terrorism’ Hysteria over Sony Hack

A poster from Sony's "The Interview" starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Some U.S. moviegoers say they are standing up to North Korean “cyber-terrorism” by going to see Sony’s “The Interview,” a comedy that makes light of assassinating real-life leader Kim Jong-un. But the furor over a retaliatory hack of Sony has the look of just the latest U.S. hysteria, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Will ‘New Obama’ Bring Hope for Change?

President Barack Obama runs onto a stage in Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 3, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has finally shown glimmers of the leader that many Americans thought they saw in 2008, as he displays some boldness in ending U.S. hostility toward Cuba and acting on global warming. But it remains unclear if this “new Obama” will offer more reasons to hope for change, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Obama’s Belated Realism on Cuba

President Barack Obama talks on the phone at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Dec. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has been what you might call a “closet realist,” favoring pragmatic approaches to world problems but afraid to buck Official Washington’s dominant “tough-guy-ism.” But he came out of the closet at least briefly in ending the Cuban embargo, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes.

Sabotaging an Iran Nuke Deal

An Iranian man holding a photo of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Iranian government photo)

Tough-guy-ism remains a dominant ideology of Official Washington, even when it does no good for genuine U.S. interests. A case in point is the unending sabotage of a possible negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

Finally, US Leadership on Global Warming

Image of Planet Earth taken from Apollo 17

For years as global warming grew worse, the U.S. government found reasons not to act, but finally the Obama administration has not only talked the talk but walked the walk with tighter CO2 regulations, an example of real leadership, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Shielding Israel’s Secret Nukes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in 2012, drawing his own "red line" on how far he will let Iran go in refining nuclear fuel.

A glaring case of hypocrisy is that the U.S. government berates Iran for a non-weaponized nuclear program while fighting to protect Israel’s large, sophisticated and undeclared nuclear arsenal, a double standard that led the Obama administration to oppose a nuclear-free Mideast, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

Americans Losing Faith in Democracy

President James Madison, an architect of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but also a Virginia slave owner.

Except perhaps on the well-funded Right with its potent Fox News/talk radio media machine, Americans feel increasingly powerless to influence policies either to address their economic plight or to curtail the nation’s overseas military adventures, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

The Risk of Misreading Russia’s Intent

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of  Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)

Official Washington’s “group think” on Ukraine holds that the crisis is all about Russian “aggression” and “expansionism” even with comparisons to Hitler. But such a hyperbolic interpretation of intent can create its own dangerous dynamics, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.