Paul Pillar

Costs of a Fixation

There appears to be no end in sight to the fixation on the lethal incident last year in Benghazi, Libya and to the determination to wring as much recrimination from it as possible.

An Invalid Reason to Rescue Mali

Here we go again—another unstable Muslim-majority country wracked by violence and the excesses of Islamic extremists, and another round of anguishing over what the United States can do to keep the extremists from gaining more ground. We have been through this, or are still going through this, in Afghanistan, in northwest Pakistan, and in Yemen.

A Revived Radicalism

A public discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations last week was concerned with identifying particular trouble spots and troublesome issues around the world that are apt to demand policy attention during 2013. One of the speakers, David Gordon of the Eurasia Group, mentioned in passing that an issue he was not worried about this year was radicalism in developed countries. He did not specify what variety of radicalism; probably most in the room simply assumed he was referring to the Islamist variety.

Iran and the Fallacy of Saber-Rattling

Among several broadly held misconceptions about Iran is that to get Iranians to make concessions we want them to make at the negotiating table the United States must credibly threaten to inflict dire harm on them—specifically, with military force—if they do not make the concessions.

Lasting Effects of the Hagel Nomination Saga

Chuck Hagel's chances to become secretary of defense seem to be on the rise, with the biggest reason being the White House finally changing his status from prospective nominee to nominee, and as such getting fully behind him rather than holding him up as a balloon to be shot at. Just as the implications of the entire saga surrounding this nomination include far more than who will head the Department of Defense, so too will the broader enduring effects be shaped by more than the outcome of the vote on the nomination in the Senate.

More Fences

If it is possible to invest in companies that supply fencing material to the Israel government, they should be rated a “buy”. Likewise with any companies that make the components of the barriers that Israel sometimes calls fences but are actually more like walls.