Paul Pillar

Men on Horseback in the Maghreb

The contrasting political trajectories of Tunisia and Egypt—the first and second countries out of the Arab Spring gate—have received much attention lately. Tunisians have exhibited more of a spirit of compromise, which has facilitated visible progress toward the sort of genuine democracy the country had lacked since independence.

Iran and the Stumble Toward Geneva II

The handling of the issue of Iranian participation in the next round of multilateral discussions on the civil war in Syria has been something of an embarrassment—certainly for the United States, the United Nations, and the conglomeration known as the Syrian opposition.

De-Trivializing the Nazis

This week the Israeli Knesset took the first step toward enactment of a bill that poses difficult questions for the legislators because it to some degree abridges free speech but does so for benign purposes.

The Highly Competent NSA

Two basic ways of berating something or somebody are to make charges of ineptitude or charges of ill intentions. With most subjects there is tension between those two modes of criticism. Ill intentions do not matter if there is insufficient ability to act on them.

Gates, War, and Responsibility

Stop the presses: Robert Gates has a revealing memoir that provides penetrating new insights into how Washington works. Such as that election considerations influence how presidents, and presidential aspirants in senior positions, speak and behave. And that Congress is a dysfunctional place where members ask hostile and impertinent questions at hearings.

Threats to Israeli Security, Imagined and Real

Everyone should be able to agree that any settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians needs to be consistent with genuine security for the people of Israel. The history of strife between Israel and multiple neighbors demands that. The longer history of the Jewish people, and of the persecution and hatred they have endured, demands it.

Breaking Down the Freedom Agenda

The multifaceted push by the George W. Bush to inject more democracy into the Middle East—a set of policies sometimes grouped under the label of the “Freedom Agenda”—has generated much debate about its effectiveness that even several years of added perspective have not resolved.

Let's Be Honest on Iran

Here's a New Year's resolution that participants in policy debate in Washington, and especially those in Congress, should make: be honest about your position on Iran. Say what you really want, and make your best arguments on behalf of what you really want, and don't pretend to be working in favor of what you really are working against.

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