Paul Pillar

President Obama Should Visit Hiroshima

Secretary of State Kerry's visit to Hiroshima, as part of a trip in which he met with other G-7 foreign ministers in preparation for a summit meeting later this spring, has raised the prospect of President Obama becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the same site when he is in Japan for the summit meeting itself. It is easy to anticipate some of the reaction from Mr. Obama's political opponents in the United States if he does make the visit. He should visit anyway.

How Sanctions Can Reduce U.S. Leverage: The Case of Iran

Attention has increased recently to sanctions against Iran and relief from sanctions under the terms of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to limit Iran's nuclear program. As usual whenever this set of subjects comes up, commentary in the United States reflects different agendas, some of which are not congruent with U.S. interests or the interests of international security. Also as usual, there is much exploitation of misunderstanding of what economic sanctions can and cannot do.

ISIS is Losing; Now Comes the Hard Part

A major deficiency in America's history of involvement with armed conflict overseas has been inattention to whatever would follow defeat of the bête noire of the moment. The outstanding example is, of course, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, with the promoters of that war being irresponsibly negligent in not seriously considering that the aftermath of deposing the Iraqi regime would be anything other than a stable and democratic polity. A similar deficiency occurred when the United States followed a European lead in deposing Muammar Qadhafi in Libya.

Who's Going to Lead on Climate Change?

A common argument made by some of those opposed to the United States reducing its greenhouse gas emissions—even by opponents who do not try to deny the fact of human-induced global warming—is that U.S. action would be useless as long as other major emitting countries continue their polluting ways. This argument received a sharp blow when the Obama administration reached an agreement with the biggest emitter—China—about reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants, which have been the largest single component of China's poisoning of the atmosphere.

Opaque Strategy and U.S. Troops in Eastern Europe

U.S. military deployments to Eastern Europe are being ramped up. The latest word as reported by the Wall Street Journal is that regular rotation of brigade-size forces, with the most modern equipment, will bring a de facto continuous U.S. military presence to the areas in question, which include the Baltic republics, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.

American Strength in Dialogue and Engagement

Fidel Castro has put out on media run by the Cuban Communist Party a rambling piece that is a reply of sorts to what President Obama said during his recent visit to Cuba, and especially to the president's major speech at a Havana theater. The aged and now seldom-seen revolutionary leader touches on topics ranging from the Bay of Pigs invasion to Cuba's self-described resistance to South African influence in Angola. Mostly it is a defensive and uncomfortable-sounding attempt to dampen the appeal of Mr.

Making America Great, and Saving Israel in the Process

A depressing sameness characterized the speeches of presidential candidates to the recently concluded exercise in fervid conformity that is called the AIPAC annual meeting. Although the event and the organization ostensibly are dedicated to support for, and friendship with, the state of Israel, in practice the dedication was instead to the policies of the right-wing government that currently holds power in Israel, which is something different.

Terrorism and Presidential Messaging

Reactions in the United States to the terrorist attacks in Brussels have quickly fallen into a familiar pattern, seen after attacks last year in Paris and in similar form after earlier incidents. There are commentaries about how sophisticated and far-reaching the responsible group must be. There is excoriation of relevant security services, this time being the Belgians' turn.

ISIS and Endlessly Expanding War

A couple of unfortunate ways of thinking about terrorism continue to plague discourse about the subject and create a political environment that encourages destructive policy responses. One is to conceive terrorism not as what it really is—a tactic—but instead as an identifiable group of bad actors: “the terrorists.” These bad guys are thought of as, if not having a permanently fixed number, then at least having identifiable limits that separate them from everyone else. Wipe out the bad guys, goes the thinking, and you've wiped out the terrorism problem.

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