To quote the Brookings Institution:
"For policy-makers and the media, Brookings scholars provide the highest quality research, policy recommendations, and analysis on the full range of public policy issues.
More than 140 resident and nonresident scholars research issues; write books, papers, articles, and opinion pieces; testify before congressional committees; and participate in dozens of public events each year. Over 200 research assistants and support staff contribute to the Institution's research, publishing, communications, fundraising, and information technology operations."
Bully for them! Sounds to me like it is a highly organized and well-financed cadre of dedicated and disciplined intellectuals bent on illuminating really important stuff and whatnot (and indeed it is).
I. on the other-hand, am one of those foul mouthed dirty f**king hippie bloggers that such luminaries as WashPo Ombudsman Deborah Howell and syndicated talking heads Richard Cohen, Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer and their ilk consider a threat to intelligent discourse on Subjects That Really Matter; like being respectful of privileged morons who get paid handsomely to shape public opinion and influence policy without accountability.
So it was with great interest that, (thanks to a tip from Cernig of NewsHoggers-- a regular contributor to Crooks & Liars) I was apprised of this recently-posted article by three fellows of the prestigious Brookings Institution entitled Why the Iraq war won't engulf the Mideast, and I quote:
“Yet, the Saudis, Iranians, Jordanians, Syrians, and others are very unlikely to go to war either to protect their own sect or ethnic group or to prevent one country from gaining the upper hand in Iraq.
The reasons are fairly straightforward. First, Middle Eastern leaders, like politicians everywhere, are primarily interested in one thing: self-preservation. Committing forces to Iraq is an inherently risky proposition, which, if the conflict went badly, could threaten domestic political stability. Moreover, most Arab armies are geared toward regime protection rather than projecting power and thus have little capability for sending troops to Iraq.” ( emphasis added)
My interest was piqued not just because this was contrary to the continued promotion of the 'conventional wisdom' of the Bush administration and its cheerleaders—even though they’ve been dead wrong in every prognostication--but because I’d read something strikingly similar and thus corroborative before, and I quote:
“The essential problem with the Republican argument [that withdrawal from Iraq will lead to region-wide chaos] is that it assumes that the political and religious dynamics in the Middle East are monolithic—which they demonstrably are not.
In all the Middle East conflicts and radical political shifts in power since WWII each country has pursued its own particular interests above anything else. Alliances and opposition have shifted according to rational need more than emotional desire.”
Both these excerpted analyses posit the same basic argument; that history, observation and dispassionate logic strongly suggest that the right wing and the Republicans are most probably wrong (for the umpteenth time) in their public prognostications. The Middle East is not monolithic and it is not bent on a collective course. It is in fact the fractures within its arbitrary collective rather than its commonalities that determine its political course (as is the case in the US and Europe).
But here’s what is most interesting to me about this subject:
The first quoted analysis was authored by three fellows of a professional think-tank supported by a staff of several hundred salaried colleagues and researchers.
The second quoted analysis was authored by me, a foul-mouthed dirty f**king hippie degenerate uneducated narcissistic blogger (not sure who to attibute that to)…FIVE MONTHS before the Brookings Institution Fellows got around to reaching the same conclusion.
My particular effort took about 4 hours of unpaid and concerted research which I didn’t link-to or footnote because otherwise my post would have been essentially unreadable.
Now I don’t mean to criticize the Brookings Institution for being slow off-the-mark, our respective timing regarding addressing the same subject is not necessarily relevant. But I think I can reasonably point out that by this example that critical thinking, intellectual discipline and pertinent commentary is not the exclusive domain of a self-validating and elite club.
This “concurrence” of analysis and opinion proves nothing with regard to the complementary arguments that have been made—time may prove us wrong—but it does strongly suggest in this instance at least that public status and social elevation has nothing to do with the essential validity of an argument.
I may be a foul-mouthed dirty f**king hippie degenerate narcissistic blogger but I think I can reasonably claim to have kicked the well funded, highly-resourced and reasonalby-respected Brookings Institution in the ass on this particular subject by dint of reaching the same conclusions FIVE MONTHS earlier and certainly with no more effort (and likely less), FOR FREE!!!
I should ask them for a job.
Admittedly the qualification is slim, but look at how well those who have been consisently and significantly wrong are doing! I think I'd make a jolly good fellow!