Paul Pillar

The Saudi Snit

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has just had a tantrum. A day after winning one of the rotational seats on the United Nations Security Council, the Saudis announced they would not take the seat.

The Anarchist Tendency

One has to struggle to find any principles or consistency in the ongoing effort at extortion that has involved shutting down government operations and threatening default on the national debt. The most common lines of analysis of what is happening, having to do with such things as gerrymandering and tea party primary challenges and the role of money in politics, have nothing to do with principle. Those lines of analysis are mostly correct and explain most of what needs to be explained.

The Evolving Scorecard on Libya

Many episodes, or aspects of episodes, in American foreign policy quickly get pigeon-holed as successes or failures. The label gets stuck to the episode, as a frozen judgment from an earlier time, and then the episode gets repeatedly referred to in such terms. The Western intervention in Libya two years ago customarily gets labeled this way as a success.

Which, and Whose, Concrete Actions?

It certainly was a whirlwind week for Iranian-U.S. relations. A very good week, too, for anyone interested in the peaceful resolution of differences between the United States and Iran—and anyone genuinely interested in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapon, a goal achievable with assurance only through the peaceful resolution of differences.

Syria and the Burden of Incumbency

Debate about U.S. policy toward Syria has clearly exhibited some of the downsides of a reality about any discourse on foreign policy: that everyone is free to criticize anyone else's position or recommendations, but the incumbent president is the only one who has to come up with a real policy and try to make it work.