Tag Archive for 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.

Making Unnecessary Enemies in Yemen

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Saudi-Israeli tandem is trying to pull the U.S. and other militaries into the Yemeni civil war by arguing that the Houthi rebels are Iranian proxies. But the reality is much more nuanced and the American interest may go in a different direction, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

America’s Overuse of the Sanctions Option

President Barack Obama talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office on March 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

America’s use of economic sanctions to punish various foreign adversaries has grown so promiscuous that U.S. businesses often don’t know when they might be crossing some legal line, thus inflicting financial pain not only on other countries but on the U.S. economy, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Hyping the Iranian ‘Threat’

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sitting next to President Hassan Rouhani and addressing the cabinet.

Iran hasn’t invaded another country for centuries and is helping the U.S. push back against the Islamic State in Iraq, but Israeli leaders and American neocons want to enlist the West in the Saudi cause of promoting Sunni Islam over Shiite Islam, while America’s interests suffer, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

The Iran Deal’s Big Upside

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meeting a group of Iranian citizens. (Iranian government photo)

The tentative deal with Iran, ensuring that its nuclear program stays peaceful, opens some avenues toward reducing tensions in the Mideast and addressing long-neglected American interests, but the hard-line opponents will still do all they can to kill it, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.