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More About the Goofball

Yesterday I wrote about Thomas P. M. Barnett, the author of the Esquire profile of Admiral Willam Fallon, head of Centcom, who resigned following the article’s publication. I have long known that Barnett is a goofball, but it turns out that I didn’t know the half of it.

Back in 1989, when one East European Soviet satrapy after another was collapsing, Barnett, as I noted yesterday, wrote a fawning article about the “shrewd and farsighted” Nicolae Ceausescu who had just been “unanimously reelected at the recent Communist-party congress” and whose “grip on power appears firm.” Two weeks later, Mr. and Mrs. Ceausescu were shot dead, and Barnett had egg — sunnyside up — on his face.

But what I did not know was that a few days after penning “Romanian Domino Stays Upright,” Barnett returned to the scene of the crime with another op-ed in the same newspaper, where he explained “Why Ceausescu Fell.” The beauty of this particular piece was that he failed to say a word about his previous analysis. Just a few weeks after telling readers about Ceausescu’s firm hold on power, here he was going on about the “people’s deep anger over their long history of oppression” and how Romanians became “ready to choose death over Ceausescu.”

This deft intellectual switcheroo evidently helped win Barnett an appointment at the Naval War College, “where he taught and served — in a senior advisory role — with military and civilian leaders in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, Central Command, Special Operations Command, and Joint Forces Command.” The quotation comes from Barnett’s autobiographical statement, available on his website, a remarkable piece of self-inflation for someone whose accomplishments, like his analysis of the Romanian revolution, have arguably subtracted more than they’ve added to the sum total of human knowledge.

Another typical example. On his website, www.thomaspmbarnett.com, Barnett exhibits a consistent fascination with what he calls the “apartheid structure” of Israel. As a self-described “prolific blogger,” he has written numerous posts that are variations on the theme of Israel as “pariah state.”

One of them is an analysis of Israel’s laws of citizenship, which Barnett describes as “defined by blood or faith.” The “historical basis for Israel as a state,” he writes, “is to recollect that tribe that got spread all over the planet in centuries past, and it doesn’t get much more racial than that.”

But in the same post, Barnett then pulls a modified, limited Ceausescu:

Now, if I’m wrongly interpreting what it takes to be an Israeli citizen, somebody please correct me and much of this post’s logic will gladly dissolve, but it’s long been my impression that only Jews (defined by blood or faith) are eligible to become full citizens of the state of Israel.

If this proposition is false, and non-Jews can enjoy “all the same citizenship and political participation rights as any Jew living there,” continues Barnett,

then I withdraw this post entirely and confess my profound ignorance on this particular subject.

Of course, the readily ascertainable fact is that many Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and even Wiccans live in Israel and enjoy “all the same citizenship and political participation rights as any Jew living there.”

What can one say, except to ask why, when writing on a politically delicate subject, does this distinguished goofball disdain to do his research first instead of proudly parading his “profound ignorance”?

Michael Scheuer undoubtedly knows the answer to this question, and so, in his own way, does Eliot Spitzer. Obsessions and compulsions can get one into deep trouble, intellectual and otherwise.


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