Paul Pillar

Brexit and the Transnational Triumph of Ignorance

Some explanations for the outcome of the British vote to leave the European Union are specific to Britain. This includes the divisions within the governing Conservative Party over EU membership (divisions that led Prime Minister David Cameron to conceive of the referendum in the first place) and the lackluster defense of membership by the leader of the opposition. Other reasons, on which much of the immediate post-referendum commentary has focused, go far beyond Britain.

Why Bibi and Vlad Get Along

In a recent article on Israel's foreign relations, Robert Danin observes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin “clearly enjoy a better relationship with each other than either does with U.S. President Barack Obama.” The Russian-Israeli relationship has indeed been smooth to cordial in recent years, at the level of top leaders as well as more generally.

The Foreign Consequences of Trump's Racism

Donald Trump is waging the most explicitly racist major U.S. presidential campaign since the third-party candidacy of segregationist George C. Wallace in 1968. The exploitation of bias based on ethnicity or religion has taken more subtle forms in other election campaigns over the past half century, with southern strategies, dog whistles, and advertising techniques that have shied away from blatant appeals to prejudice.

Unhelpfully Familiar Responses to the Orlando Shooting

Here we go again. Another terrorist incident, and another iteration of the depressingly familiar suite of responses we hear each time in the subsequent surge of rhetoric and commentary. Much of what we hear is what careful consideration of the circumstances and evidence associated with many of these incidents would show to be wrong.

Streetcars Named Deception

The repeated indicators of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian tendencies bring to mind that Erdogan once said, “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.” With a statement like that, one can say that at least Turkish voters, including the many who have voted for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party in multiple elections, were warned. But the phenomenon of authoritarian types rising within a democracy has been around for a long time.

Phony Kurds in Syria

Creeping escalation characterizes U.S. military involvement in Syria. What had been fifty American troops on the ground expanded to three hundred beginning last month. Official descriptions of this contingent as not being directly involved in combat become increasingly difficult to swallow as piecemeal reports of the Americans' activity become available.

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