Paul Pillar

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.

Balky Syrian Rebels

Reasonable people can disagree on what to do about Syria, a problem with no good solutions, and particularly about what to do regarding aid to Syrian rebels. There ought not to be disagreement, however, on not letting the United States, a would-be benefactor, get pushed around or have its diplomacy subverted by the rebels, who are the supplicants.

Leaks, Privacy and Journalism

Public discussion of the subpoena of telephone records of Associated Press reporters as part of a leak investigation has been impaired by widespread ignorance or misunderstanding of what is going on with this case, as well as by the political environment in which the issue has surfaced.

More Costs of a Pseudo-Scandal

If I were a political adviser to those relentlessly pushing recriminations about the attack last year on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, I think my advice would be, “Give it a rest.” This pseudo-scandal has become so forced, so contrived, and so blatantly driven by motives other than safeguarding the security of U.S.

Hard and Soft Power in Bahrain

The island kingdom of Bahrain has stuck out as a kind of sore thumb in the Persian Gulf ever since the Arab Spring got under way. It is the only one of the six monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council that has seen major political unrest during these past two or three years. It also is a place where U.S.

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