Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Baby Chalabis

From Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman's wonderful Ethical Realism:

Among the enormous numbers of analysts in Washington still employed in the study of Russia, the number who are actually capable of placing themselves in the skins of most Russians can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They themselves, of course, sincerely believe otherwise. But that is because the Russians whom they know well, and feel they understand, have been selected and self-selected to confirm American attitudes and prejudices. Those Russians who disagree just do not get Western grants and jobs, and are not interviewed as "serious" and "objective" sources of analysis by Western journalists.

Mostly, the copulation of illusions is just designed to secure financial and career benefits for the West's local informants. But it also continually lays the U.S. establishment open to manipulation by the likes of Iraqi opportunist and neoconservative darling Ahmed Chalabi for their own political ends. Indeed, several leading Washington think tanks are virtual nurseries for flocks of Baby Chalabis, all mewling into the doting ears of their foster parents about how the freedom-loving people of Ubangi-Gangi or Khakistan love America, support American policies, want America to intervene in their countries to "restore democracy"--and above all, want their beloved Ahmed Junior to get back his old job as minister for corruption. You think we exaggerate? Look at Benazir Bhutto's record in office, and then ask how large parts of the U.S. establishment can possibly believe that her return to power would be good for Pakistan.

From p. 76-77. Read the whole thing.

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