Paul Pillar

Leninist Foreign Policy Comes to Washington

The fiasco of President Trump’s executive order involving travel bans from selected Muslim-majority countries has consumed public attention for several days, although it was only one of several actions that have constituted the most disorganized and strife-laden opening ten days of any U.S.

An Order That Will Increase Terrorism

Donald Trump’s efforts, during his first week in office, to give substance to his campaign rhetoric have involved executive orders that have generated reactions ranging from bemusement over their vagueness to worried waiting for other shoes to drop.  But the previous orders do not do as much quick damage, both to individual U.S. persons and their families and to broader U.S.

Why Donald Trump Might Become an Interventionist

Now that Donald Trump has assumed power, we will start to see demonstrations of how futile it was to have tried to project a direction of his policy, including foreign and security policy, on the basis of his tweets, blurts, and campaign speeches.  Of course, such projection is what those of us in the commentariat normally do, but this is not a normal president.  Anticipation of the direction of policy ordinarily can be discussed in terms of grand strategies and schools of thought, but not so with Trump.  With most presidents, attracting crowds and support and votes in a campaign is a gaunt

Evaluating Obama

Most of the end-of-presidency appraisals of Barack Obama’s performance in office have failed to capture the most important aspects of his presidency and what distinguishes it from others.  This shortcoming is only partly due to the difficulty of making good judgments about such things without the perspective that only the passage of time can provide—although this difficulty is indeed a significant factor, as suggested by how much general opinion about some past presidents has changed over time.

Russia Had Plenty to Work With: The Crisis in American Democracy

The health, or sickness, of democracy in foreign countries has long been a matter of concern in the United States, notwithstanding disagreements regarding exactly what the United States can, or should, do to promote democracy abroad.  Consider the case of the following country—for now, let us call it Slobbovia—as outsiders would view it and as it might be the subject of something equivalent to a State Department dispatch or a report from a nongovernmental organization concerned with democracy.

The Anti-Intelligence President-Elect

As serious as is the Russian interference, including hacking, related to the U.S. election, of even more concern is what the U.S. president-elect’s (along with some of his co-partisans’) comments on this matter foretell for how he will function as chief executive and steward of U.S. foreign relations.  Not in living memory has a president-elect, in just two months of a transition period, given so much additional evidence that some of the well-founded concerns about how he might operate as president will in fact materialize.  Then again, never in memory has any U.S.

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