Sunday, September 23, 2007

Letter to Glenn Greenwald


I support your call for honesty in foreign policy debate. Attacking Iran would be a humanitarian catastrophe and anyone advocating it should clearly say so and why.

While we're on the subject of full and honest disclosure, don't you think it's time that you spell out your analysis of Israel in the Middle East and its relationship to our role there? Let's be frank: you, and the class of political bloggers you inhabit, blame Israel for the lion's share of the trouble in the region. You feel that Israel was formed in original sin -- the displacement of the Palestinians -- and its settlement policy and hawkish replies to Arab aggression create a justifiable and growing rage among Arabs and Muslims worldwide. Terrorism, border attacks and thriving Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism are the lamentable but logical consequences.

Following from this, you support the following Walt-Mearsheimer thesis: "the U.S. has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel".

I think this is why you, the people you emulate (Digby, Yglesias), and your own epigones, are so exercised about the "smearing" of Walt and Mearsheimer as anti-Semites. This isn't some soulful protest of the muzzling of their (now best-selling) voices or chagrin over the cheapening of the word "anti-Semite". Walt and Mearsheimer's calling out of The Lobby(TM) is important to you, but la femme here is the vital truth, as you see it, that The Lobby suppresses: nasty Israel's radioactivity to the US.

I don't want to debate the quality of your analysis. Doing so is tedious and off-topic. I think there's a kernel of truth to it -- the settlements are deplorable and provocative, and our silence on that issue is bewildering. But it's also predicated on a retrograde and illiterate pan-Muslim nationalism, insofar as it accepts that it's rational, say, for Iranians to antagonize and attack Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians. One recalls the polyadjectival tsunami of snark you unload in response to the mirror image of these politics, for example Joe Lieberman's stupid courting of evangelical Christians on behalf of broader Zionism.

What I want, like you, is honesty in advocacy. For all of the high dudgeon on liberal blogs about the silliness of the "serious" foreign policy community, you guys rarely articulate a full foreign policy in opposition to the one in place. Now's your opportunity to start. Follow your own advice and "make [your] case expressly".

Update: Greenwald responds:

Before I began blogging, I never would have believed that there are people who think it's a clever tactic to (a) invent arguments, (b) baselessly attribute them to other people, and then (c) demand that those people "admit" that they believe those things.

Congratulations on being the latest example proving that such people do exist.

Although it is merely a dismissal, I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I am not engaging in a "tactic" -- one wonders what overall strategy I'm pursuing -- I'm trying to make sense of your writings on the Middle East, Israel and the neocons in relation to those things.

In characterizing your view, I wrote you "blame Israel for the lion's share of the trouble in the region," that you feel Israeli policy stokes terrorism and that you agree with Walt and Mearsheimer that our affiliation with Israel causes terrorism to rebound to us.

In this post, entitled Dick Cheney's warped vision of the world, you write:

Jordan's King Abdullah delivered an extremely important though almost completely ignored address to Congress last week in which he implored the U.S. to stop blindly supporting Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians and instead work towards a resolution, precisely because nothing fuels anti-American hatred and Islamic radicalism as much as Israel's ongoing occupation...

Everyone knows that the Bush administration's explicit abandonment of any pretense of objectivity or broker role in the Israel-Palestinian conflict -- replaced by our virtual participation on the side of Israel in that conflict -- has done as much, if not more, than any single other factor to fuel the Islamic radicalism which we claim we are so eager to defeat...

Please explain, then, how I've "[invented] arguments" and "baselessly [attributed]" them to you. Thanks.

Labels: , ,