Paul Pillar

Streetcars Named Deception

The repeated indicators of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian tendencies bring to mind that Erdogan once said, “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.” With a statement like that, one can say that at least Turkish voters, including the many who have voted for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party in multiple elections, were warned. But the phenomenon of authoritarian types rising within a democracy has been around for a long time.

Phony Kurds in Syria

Creeping escalation characterizes U.S. military involvement in Syria. What had been fifty American troops on the ground expanded to three hundred beginning last month. Official descriptions of this contingent as not being directly involved in combat become increasingly difficult to swallow as piecemeal reports of the Americans' activity become available.

The Litigious Society's Latest Take on Terrorism

The recent passage by the U.S. Senate of a bill labeled the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act elicited cheers from those wanting to see any kind of significant bipartisan action in Congress. The bill is intended to amend existing law regarding sovereign immunity to make it easier for U.S. citizens to haul foreign governments into U.S. court for involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks; Saudi Arabia is the unnamed but obvious target.

Israeli Hardliners Harden Further

There already shouldn't have been any doubt about the orientation of the current Israeli government and the associated obduracy of that government in blocking any path toward resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is firmly rightist, dominated by those opposed to the relinquishing of occupied territory or the creation of a Palestinian state.

The False Neoconservative Claim of Consensus

The ululation among neoconservatives over their loss, at the hands of Donald Trump, of their control of the foreign policy of one of the two major American political parties continues with an op ed from one of the loudest grievers, Eliot Cohen. Cohen enumerates many valid reasons why the vulgar and erratic presumptive Republican presidential nominee would be an awful steward of U.S. foreign policy.

Foreign Conduct as a Response to U.S. Policy

Psychologists have observed that most of us favor a self-serving way of explaining the good and bad conduct of others with whom we interact. While we are quite comfortable with attributing some of the good to our own benign influence, we attribute all of the bad to the other person's character and refuse to accept that our own conduct may have influenced what the other person is doing. This phenomenon arises frequently in foreign affairs. It is common with, for example, American perceptions of anti-U.S. international terrorism.

Why, and How, Congress Should Enact an AUMF

The request by a U.S. Army captain to a federal court for a declaratory judgment about his constitutional duties regarding going to war is the latest reminder of the unsatisfactory situation in which the United States is engaged in military operations in multiple overseas locales without any authorization other than a couple of outdated and obsolete Congressional resolutions whose relevance is questionable at best. Of the many ways in which the U.S.