During the Nixon administration, Secretary of State Kissinger sought to tighten the rotation of American diplomats to just a couple of years in any particular country, and to ensure they were posted at the State Department regularly. He believed the loss of in-depth knowledge when a diplomat left a long-term posting was more than offset by the fact that so many diplomats posted overseas lost perspective, accepted conspiracies by osmosis, and adopted the biases of foreign societies.
The same holds true for journalists. Foreign correspondents and their military beat colleagues stationed overseas sometimes drink too much of the local water. Usually their editors catch the nonsense, but sometimes craziness slips through. Thomas Ricks, at the time a military correspondent for the Washington Post, and now a blogger for ForeignPolicy.com, suggested that Israel purposely allowed Hezbollah to launch missiles into northern Israel in order to have an excuse to retaliate. According to Ricks:
One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.
Ricks never named those military analysts; he appeared to simply couch his own bias in made-up sources, and later left the newspaper.
Now, it seems the craziness has spread to former journalists’ commentary about the terrorist attacks on Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India. Genieve Abdo, a long-time correspondent for London’s Guardian, and a frequent contributor to The Economist and New York Times, is now a fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive think-tank. She has also been affiliated with the National Security Network, a group with close ties to the Obama White House. At the think tank, she no longer has an editor to screen away personal biases, so her radicalism shines through. Yesterday, for example, she told Australian public radio that Israel had bombed its own diplomats in order to have an excuse to blame Iran:
ELEANOR HALL: Iran’s leadership says it’s sheer lies that it’s behind the attacks and that the Israelis have planted the bombs themselves to discredit Iran?
GENEIVE ABDO: Well I think that’s entirely possible. I mean, if you consider what the Israelis did for many years in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East, that theory is not so farfetched.
What progressive analysis would be complete without obsessing about the dark shadow of a “Jewish lobby?”
ELEANOR HALL: So how dangerous do you think the situation is right now?
GENEIVE ABDO: Well, I think it’s very dangerous. It’s far more dangerous than probably any escalation tension that we’ve seen in 30 years. So, you know, you have the Israelis not willing to live with a nuclear Iran. You have the Iranians going forward with their nuclear program. And you have an American president trying to be re-elected with a Jewish lobby in the United States that’s extremely powerful.
So who’s to blame? Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has called Israel a malignancy which must be removed, or Benjamin Netanyahu, the democratically-elected leader of a broad-based coalition? Obviously, for Abdo, it’s Netanyahu. “Netanyahu,” Abdo declares, “has shown that we’re dealing with a very extremist Israeli government.”
Perhaps if Abdo and the good folks at The Century Foundation would be a bit more introspective, they might realize the problem is instead with a very extremist journalist.