Paul Pillar

What Terrorism Alerts Say about Ourselves

The uselessness to the public of the recent vague official alerts about possible terrorist attacks in Europe has been noted by several commentators.  Our government told us not that we should revise travel plans but that we should take sensible precautions such as being aware of our surroundings.  Sounds like standard advice for any foreign traveler, terrorist threat or no terrorist threat.

Four Myths About the Refutation of Myths

A regular feature in the Observer section of the Sunday Washington Post is an article in which a commentator refutes five myths, or what are described as myths, about some public issue. This is a popular form of argumentation, which appears in various forms elsewhere. One variant, for example, is the “Think Again” feature in Foreign Policy, which has the same format of serially evaluating several supposedly popular beliefs, although among the beliefs that get refuted there as myths are sometimes others that win the author's agreement or at least conditional agreement.

The Ineffable Lobby

[amazon 0374177724 full]Lately one hasn't heard much of the screaming against the observation that supporters of a certain Middle Eastern state exercise influence over U.S. policy that is well out of proportion to what a clear focus on U.S. interests would dictate. That's because the observation doesn't get voiced very much.  The screaming reached a crescendo three years ago when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their book on the subject.