Paul Pillar

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.

Echoes of Lebanon in Syria

Expressions of angst over Syria have entailed several themes, one of which concerns possible “spread” of the Syrian civil war into nearby states. Lebanon, for reasons of physical and ethnic geography, is most often mentioned as a locale of such spreading.

The Guantanamo Political Game

The national disgrace that is the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is still in operation largely because of another familiar national disgrace, which is partisan gamesmanship. At his press conference this week President Obama stated accurately the multiple reasons, which include significant political damage to U.S.

Syria and WMD Inconsistency in the Middle East

Once again people are getting spun up over elusive details about what a Middle Eastern regime is or is not doing regarding unconventional weapons. Participants in public debates over policy get seized with questions such as the significance of a soil sample or whether certain victims of Syria's civil war had dilated pupils.

The Iraqi Civil War, Round Two

The most prominent civil wars in recent years have not started with a clear, firing-on-Fort-Sumter beginning. Instead they have been slid into as protests grow, confrontations between the regime and an opposition become more physical, and the government's use of lethal force is increasingly matched by oppositionists firing back.