Paul Pillar

Taking Stock at the Afghan Milestones

With the double milestones in Afghanistan of NATO turning over the remainder of its combat role to Afghan government forces and the announced imminent opening of peace talks with the Taliban, it is an appropriate time to note a few lessons demonstrated by this war.

The Iranian People Challenge the West

Hassan Rouhani's stunning and sweeping victory in the Iranian presidential election is already generating much debate among expert Iran-watchers about how to interpret this outcome. There are different views, for example, on what inference should be drawn regarding the posture of Supreme Leader Khamenei toward the election.

The Commitment Ploy

Sometimes a child is able to drag a parent into doing something the parent might not really want to do—say, taking the kid to an amusement park—through a two-step process. The first step is to nag, repeatedly and insistently, about going to the park.

Iran and the Syria Conference

A perpetual, and perpetually misguided, American notion about international negotiations is that sitting down to talk constitutes some sort of reward for the party on the other side of the table—a reward to be bestowed only in return for good behavior.

Reading Iranian Minds

Many who offer opinions on policy toward Iran, and particularly on how to handle negotiations over its nuclear program, implicitly claim an unusual ability to read the minds of Iranian decision-makers. Assertions are made with apparent confidence about what the Iranians want, fear or believe, even without any particular evidence in support.