Paul Pillar

Trump's and Pompeo's Path to Nuclear Crisis

The prospective replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo clears one of the last apparent hurdles between Donald Trump and his destruction of a significant diplomatic achievement that has been squarely in the interests of the United States, of nuclear nonproliferation, and of the containment of conflict in the Middle East.  This is, of course, the multilateral agreement that restricts Iran’s nuclear program, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  There is ample reason to worry that such destruction is a step toward an even worse consequence:

The Korea Talks and Why Policy Processes Matter

In July 1951, armistice talks began that eventually, after two years of difficult negotiations, would halt the Korean War.  The locale was the city of Kaesong, which was just south of the 38th parallel but on the North Korean/Chinese side of the front line.  The lead negotiator for United Nations forces was U.S. Navy Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy.  (After his death, the Navy honored Joy by naming a destroyer after him—a warship that in 1964 would be involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, a key event in the U.S.

Entertaining Our Way into Falsehoods

Long after Donald Trump leaves office, analysts will continue to discuss the roots of his presidency’s excesses and outrages.  They will offer explanations about larger phenomena in politics and society that go beyond Trump himself and that helped to make possible the damage he has inflicted on the republic.  Some of those explanations will focus on subsets of the population, such as his electoral base or the Republican Party.  Other explanations, just as appropriately, will point to still larger trends, attitudes, or developments that involve American society as a whole.

Unipolar Strategy in a Multipolar World

Vladimir Putin’s video show about formidable new Russian strategic weapons, which took up half of the Russian president’s recent state of the nation address, has given defense analysts plenty to chew on.  The presentation, which Putin probably was aiming at his domestic audience as well as an international one, left open questions as to how close to deployment are the weapons that were depicted in animated form, such as nuclear-powered cruise missiles and port-demolishing n

The Security Hole in the White House

As anyone who has not been in a sensory deprivation tank for the past two years knows, quite a big deal was made of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.  President Trump has continued to refer from time to time to Mrs. Clinton’s emails.  The highlighting of this matter has been a big partisan game, of course, played for electoral purposes all out of proportion to the offense in question.