< Distinguished speaker series

Dr. Paul Pillar

Former Deputy Chief of the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA; Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University; Non-resident Senior Fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution

Afghanistan Isn’t Good Terrorist Real Estate

DATE: March 15, 2022 6:00 pm

Event information


Professor Pillar is Director of Graduate Studies and a core faculty member of the Security Studies Program at
Georgetown’s Center for Peace and Security Studies. He is a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and served on
active duty in 1971-1973, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. Pillar was a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings
Institution in 1999-2000. He retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community. His last position
was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. He served as chief of analytic units at the CIA
covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Pillar has been Executive Assistant to CIA’s Deputy
Director for Intelligence and Executive Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster, headed the
Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and was deputy chief of the center.
In the past, Pillar brought up discussion of the use of military force in counterterrorism is how such use may affect
broader perceptions and emotions that in turn affect the propensity of some individuals to resort to terrorism, including
anti-U.S. terrorism. Combined with his expertise, he also discussed the intelligence work that reportedly underlay the
successful operation against bin Laden was typical of the work aimed at terrorist targets, although obviously the very
high priority of this particular target meant that disproportionate time, effort, and resources were devoted to it. The work
entails the exploitation of fragmentary reporting from a variety of technical and human sources. He is the author of
Negotiating Peace: War Termination as a Bargaining Process (1983), Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (2001),
Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform (2011), and Why America Misunderstands the
World: National Experience and Roots of Misperception (2016). He is a contributing editor of The National Interest.
Pillar received an A.B. summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, a B.Phil. from Oxford University, and an M.A. and
Ph.D. from Princeton University.