Paul Pillar

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.

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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.

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