Paul Pillar

Adding Flame to the Syrian Fire

Israeli warplanes inflicted some kind of damage on the outskirts of Damascus on Wednesday, but there were different versions as to exactly what. The Syrian government says it was a scientific research facility that was attacked.

Strangeness at Guantanamo

During a hearing Monday to consider pre-trial motions before the military tribunal at Guantanamo that is handling the case of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other defendants charged with perpetrating the 9/11 attacks, the audio and video feeds that run from the courtroom to media rooms and are the only way for the outside world to follow the proceedings were mysteriously interr

Costs of a Fixation

There appears to be no end in sight to the fixation on the lethal incident last year in Benghazi, Libya and to the determination to wring as much recrimination from it as possible.

An Invalid Reason to Rescue Mali

Here we go again—another unstable Muslim-majority country wracked by violence and the excesses of Islamic extremists, and another round of anguishing over what the United States can do to keep the extremists from gaining more ground. We have been through this, or are still going through this, in Afghanistan, in northwest Pakistan, and in Yemen.

A Revived Radicalism

A public discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations last week was concerned with identifying particular trouble spots and troublesome issues around the world that are apt to demand policy attention during 2013. One of the speakers, David Gordon of the Eurasia Group, mentioned in passing that an issue he was not worried about this year was radicalism in developed countries. He did not specify what variety of radicalism; probably most in the room simply assumed he was referring to the Islamist variety.

Iran and the Fallacy of Saber-Rattling

Among several broadly held misconceptions about Iran is that to get Iranians to make concessions we want them to make at the negotiating table the United States must credibly threaten to inflict dire harm on them—specifically, with military force—if they do not make the concessions.