Paul Pillar

Permanent Warfare as Normality

The newest issue of Foreign Affairs features the theme of “America’s Forgotten Wars”, with a cover illustration that juxtaposes a carefree scene of Americans enjoying a picnic with a scene of American soldiers fighting and incurring casualties in some sandy and desolate battle space.  The picture depicts truthfully the detachment between, on one hand, the daily interests and attitudes of most Americans and, on the other hand, the disturbing reality of the United States being engaged continuousl

Americans Wrote the Russians' Material

Russian interference in domestic American politics is a large and complicated story, full understanding of which is only beginning to be reached by the media and independent analysts.  Some of the lessons and implications of that story, especially as it relates to the 2016 election, can only follow completion of the relevant investigations.  But one aspect of the story need not await the official inquiries.  This aspect concerns how many of the accusations and themes that Russia promoted through social media merely

The Operational Code of President Trump

Press reports indicate that later this week President Trump will “decertify” the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), relying on a clause in the relevant review legislation that permits the president to make such a declaration even if Iran is fully complying with the accord.  That Trump has decided on this course has nothing to do with the terms of the JCPOA, with Iran, or with Iranian actions; he has not advanced a convincing case, or even a coherent argument, as to how those considerations provide a reason to cashier an agreement that is working.  His

NMDB and the JCPOA

A major theme of those seeking to kill the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is that Iran is doing lots of other things, especially in the Middle East, deemed undesirable.  Such rhetoric flows freely even though these other things are not covered by the JCPOA and are unrelated to the agreement.  Arguments based on this rhetoric are just as dishonest as many other arguments of opponents, whose motivations involve not the terms of the JCPOA but instead other reasons they want to kill this accord and to oppose any agreement, on any subject

One Person, One Vote, One Time

An old fear about Islamist political parties entering government is that once in power, even if they had gained their position through democratic means, they would subvert democracy for the sake of maintaining power.  The U.S.

The Muddled Travel Ban

The Trump administration’s travel ban is in its third version, and it still does not respond convincingly to the ostensible need it was supposed to address.  The supposed purpose itself is unclear.  The latest version introduces additional confusion about the ostensible objective, even without getting into the real motivations behind it.

The Enduring Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

The following remarks were originally presented to the Worcester, MA World Affairs Council on September 19, 2017.

President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whom the president has entrusted with, among many other things, searching for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, said regarding that task: “We don’t want a history lesson. How does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We’ve read enough books.”

Iran and the Nuclear Sunset Clauses

Opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), always has been filled with disingenuous arguments.  This reflects the fundamental illogic of the opponents’ position: if the agreement were to be junked, this would mean removing a panoply of restrictions on Iran and re-opening now-closed avenues to a nuclear weapon for the very country that the opponents constantly contend is a serious threat.  The principal sources of opposition have had little to do with terms of the agreement itself or with nuclear matters, even though the specte

Pages