Thirty years ago I wrote a tiny book in defense of nuclear deterrence. Against the nuclear freezers and the nuclear war-fighters, deterrence was not hard to defend: my argument was drearily sensible. But I was nervously aware that I was urging good sense about a strategic situation that was senseless, because it was premised upon the credibility of a threat of holocaust. I was careful to note my discomfort in my book: deterrence, I said, may be supported but not celebrated, because it is another term for an unprecedentedly lethal danger, which it elects to manage rather than to abolish.
With controversy swirling around Obama's selection of Leon Panetta for CIA chief, we approached a few respected intelligence experts for perspective. Those we spoke to were supportive of the choice and the theory that intelligence experience is not an absolute prerequisite for a good director. Paul Pillar, a professor at Georgetown University and former CIA officer, explained why he feels so confident: I think he'll do fine. ... The director is not a line officer; he's not running cases and doing detailed analyses.