Paul Pillar

Connections to a Bygone War

On Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I was in the small town of Alexandria in western Minnesota to attend a ceremony dedicating a Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in honor of Max J. Beilke, who grew up in the area. Max Beilke was drafted during the Korean War and stayed in the army as a career.

Allies and Independent Thinking

Small parties and political independents often function as sand thrown into the political machinery of parliamentary systems.  Whatever seats they win in elections to national legislatures make it that much harder for the major parties that must take the lead in forming a government to put together a stable majority.  The result is often deadlock and the need for new elections.

Who's Supposed to be Winning the Hearts and Minds?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is unhappy about how the United States is fighting the war in his country--the war intended to shore up his regime.  He has complained with increasing frequency about the deleterious tactical effects of U.S. and NATO military operations and specifically about collateral civilian casualties.

The Price of False Purity

Much discourse about U.S. foreign and security policy, and sometimes the policy itself, reflects a kind of fastidiousness aimed at avoiding any business with people we find distasteful or who have done things we don't like, without paying attention to the second-order effects of such attempts to keep our hands clean, or even to the first-order effects.  The fastidiousness takes varied forms.