Paul Pillar

Drugs versus Nukes

Those wishing to kill the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement that restricts Iran’s nuclear program, have never given up.  The agreement’s ever-lengthening successful record, now more than two years old, of keeping closed all possible pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon ought to have discouraged would-be deal-slayers.  But the slayers got a new lease on life with the election of Donald Trump, who, as part of his program of opposing whatever Barack Obama favored and destroying whatever he accomplished, has consistently berated the JCPOA.

Uniting, Against Trump's Policies, for Peace

When North Korea began the Korean War with an invasion of South Korea in June 1950, the armed response was waged under the flag of the United Nations thanks to the Soviet Union having absented itself from the Security Council. The Soviets were boycotting the council to protest the fact that China’s seat had not been given to Mao Zedong’s communists, who had won the Chinese civil war the previous October. With no Soviet veto in the way, the Security Council quickly passed the resolutions necessary to bestow UN sanction on the U.S.-led military resistance to the North’s aggression.

America Alone

 

The congressionally mandated national security strategies have for the most part not merited the term “strategy”.  They are public documents meant for public consumption rather than as guides to decision-making about individual foreign policy problems.  They are essentially an additional opportunity, along with presidential speeches and other vehicles, for expressing to the public an administration’s favored themes.

Dragging U.S. Intelligence into the Anti-Iranian Mud

The most widely remembered episode of a U.S. administration using an intelligence-based public presentation to stir up hostility toward a country with which it was intent on picking a fight was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation on Iraq to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003.  That presentation and the Bush administration’s year-long campaign, of which Powell’s speech was a part, to sell the U.S.

Outside-In Won't Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Donald Trump never has given evidence that he has new, fresh, and promising ideas to achieve his declared objective of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.  His statements on the subject can more plausibly be interpreted as another piece of braggadocio about his self-declared deal-making ability.  The obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian peace have long been painfully apparent, even if much discussion of the subject does not candidly acknowledge them.  The contours of any fair and stable resolution of the conflict also have long been well known and have found expression in, for example, t

Misusing Intelligence to Sell Conflict with Iran

Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration already has provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques an earlier U.S. administration used in selling its launching of a war against Iraq.  Among these techniques is the cherry-picking of intelligence not to inform policy-making or to enlighten the public but instead to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thereby to muster support for a policy already chosen.

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