THE EMPIRE BLOGS BACK….Gideon Rose, managing editor of Foreign Affairs, fires a shot
across the bow directly into the heart of blogospheric contempt for the Very Serious People of the foreign policy community:
The lefty blogosphere, meanwhile, has gotten itself all in a tizzy over the failings of the “foreign policy community.” The funny thing is…hell, I’ll just come out and say it: the netroots’ attitude toward professionals isn’t that different from the neocons’….
The charges the bloggers are making now are very similar to those that the neocons made a few years ago: mainstream foreign-policy experts are politicised careerists, biased hacks, and hide-bound traditionalists who have gotten everything wrong in the past and don’t deserve to be listened to in the future. (Take a look at pretty much any old Jim Hoagland column and you’ll see what I mean.) Back then, the neocons directed their fire primarily at the national security bureaucracies — freedom-hating mediocrities at the CIA, pin-striped wussies at the State Department, cowardly soldiers at the Pentagon. Now the bloggers’ attacks are generally aimed at the think-tank world.
If that doesn’t earn Gideon a Wanker of the Day award, I don’t know what will. The Empire has very definitely struck back.
But he’s got a point: sure, the foreign policy community hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory over the past few years, and a lively skepticism toward expert opinion is a healthy thing in a democracy. In an echo chamber like the blogosphere, however, skepticism can sometimes morph into yahooism, and that frankly reminds me a little too much of the current crew in the White House for comfort. Not everybody we disagree with is automatically a cretin.
In any case, FA is undoubtedly the mouthpiece of the Very Serious People community, and one thing that I think is definitely healthy is for this debate to be engaged by both sides. In this post my friend Gideon does a very bloggish job of going after my friend Matt Yglesias, which makes me poorly suited to referee this particular match, but I’d like to see more of it. Beneath the name calling, there’s a genuinely meaningful debate here that’s worth having. But we can only have it if the VSPs open up the castle gates and invite the barbarian hordes to join the tournament. More jousting, please.