Paul Pillar

Who's Going to Lead on Climate Change?

A common argument made by some of those opposed to the United States reducing its greenhouse gas emissions—even by opponents who do not try to deny the fact of human-induced global warming—is that U.S. action would be useless as long as other major emitting countries continue their polluting ways. This argument received a sharp blow when the Obama administration reached an agreement with the biggest emitter—China—about reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants, which have been the largest single component of China's poisoning of the atmosphere.

Opaque Strategy and U.S. Troops in Eastern Europe

U.S. military deployments to Eastern Europe are being ramped up. The latest word as reported by the Wall Street Journal is that regular rotation of brigade-size forces, with the most modern equipment, will bring a de facto continuous U.S. military presence to the areas in question, which include the Baltic republics, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.

American Strength in Dialogue and Engagement

Fidel Castro has put out on media run by the Cuban Communist Party a rambling piece that is a reply of sorts to what President Obama said during his recent visit to Cuba, and especially to the president's major speech at a Havana theater. The aged and now seldom-seen revolutionary leader touches on topics ranging from the Bay of Pigs invasion to Cuba's self-described resistance to South African influence in Angola. Mostly it is a defensive and uncomfortable-sounding attempt to dampen the appeal of Mr.

Making America Great, and Saving Israel in the Process

A depressing sameness characterized the speeches of presidential candidates to the recently concluded exercise in fervid conformity that is called the AIPAC annual meeting. Although the event and the organization ostensibly are dedicated to support for, and friendship with, the state of Israel, in practice the dedication was instead to the policies of the right-wing government that currently holds power in Israel, which is something different.

Terrorism and Presidential Messaging

Reactions in the United States to the terrorist attacks in Brussels have quickly fallen into a familiar pattern, seen after attacks last year in Paris and in similar form after earlier incidents. There are commentaries about how sophisticated and far-reaching the responsible group must be. There is excoriation of relevant security services, this time being the Belgians' turn.

ISIS and Endlessly Expanding War

A couple of unfortunate ways of thinking about terrorism continue to plague discourse about the subject and create a political environment that encourages destructive policy responses. One is to conceive terrorism not as what it really is—a tactic—but instead as an identifiable group of bad actors: “the terrorists.” These bad guys are thought of as, if not having a permanently fixed number, then at least having identifiable limits that separate them from everyone else. Wipe out the bad guys, goes the thinking, and you've wiped out the terrorism problem.

Asymmetry in Syria and the Russian Drawdown

Whenever Russian president Vladimir Putin makes a significant move, several common reactions are routinely heard in American discussion. One such reaction, as Mark Katz notes, is to remark on how clever Putin supposedly is. Another common response is to express surprise. Many people expressed surprise when Russia militarily intervened last year in the conflict in Syria, and many of the same people are expressing surprise over the announced drawdown of Russian forces there.

Obama the Realist

Jeffrey Goldberg's long article in the Atlantic about Barack Obama's thinking on America's foreign relations, an article derived from a series of interviews that Goldberg had with the president, ought to be required reading for this year's presidential candidates and those who wish to advise the next president on foreign policy. It ought to be so because it lays out some splendidly clear and well-grounded realist principles, expressed by Mr.

The Latest on Non-Nefarious Iranian Behavior

One of the arguments recited most frequently by those wanting to keep Iran ostracized in perpetuity—so frequently that it has achieved the status of cliché—has been that the partial sanctions relief provided for in the agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program would lead to increased “nefarious” and “destabilizing” behavior by Iran in the Middle East because it would have more financial resources for such activity.

Tribal Beliefs and American Political Parties

The Donald Trump phenomenon and the suddenly frantic efforts within the Republican Party to try to stop Trump have led some observers to believe American politics are at a major inflection point, one where a familiar line-up of political parties and their backers could be substantially revised.

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