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February 16, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About U.S. Foreign Policy in One Short Paragraph

This is from the March 10, 1919 diary entry of Cary Grayson, Woodrow Wilson's personal doctor:

…the President said…that if the present government of Germany is recognizing the soldiers and workers councils, it is delivering itself into the hands of the bolshevists [sic]. He said the American negro returning from abroad would be our greatest medium in conveying bolshevism to America. For example, a friend recently related the experience of a lady friend wanting to employ a negro laundress offering to pay the usual wage in that community. The negress demands that she be given more money than was offered for the reason that "money is as much mine as it is yours." Furthermore, he called attention to the fact that the French people have placed the negro soldier in France on an equality with the white men, and "it has gone to their heads."

That one paragraph truly contains everything you need to know about U.S. foreign policy:

1. It's built on a foundation on upper class twit urban legend. Who knows what really happened with the "friend of a friend" of Woodrow Wilson. But I think we can be certain that, if the "negress" actually did exist, she didn't ask for more money than usual because she was inspired by bolshevism to say "money is as much mine as it is yours."

This reminds me of the time shortly after the 1992 Los Angeles riots when the nephew of a huge Hollywood producer told me he'd heard that all the black people in Compton were making plans for next time, when they were going to come burn down the three B's: Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Sure, you bet.

2. The terrifying danger that the U.S. upper crust perceived in 1919 wasn't that the lower orders were going to stage a Bolshevik revolution. It wasn't even that they were going to try to get the right to vote and have a voice in the government. It was that they were asking for a raise.

(Also, worker councils were not a good idea that made workplaces run better, but pure revolutionary bolshevism. If you paid attention to the right-wing freakout over the UAW trying to organize the VW plant in Chattanooga, you saw nothing whatsoever has changed.)

3. The terrifying danger wasn't coming from just any part of the lower orders, it was from the teeming non-white masses who want to take all our money.

4. What was the the natural response to the threat of a slight change in political and economic power within the U.S.? It was to invade another country (in this case, the nascent Soviet Union), together with the other main white powers, the UK and France.

You can draw a direct line from this diary entry to every foreign policy action taken by the U.S. in the past 95 years.

P.S. The house where Cary Grayson and his family once lived in Washington, D.C. is now the administration building of Sidwell Friends, the private school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama.

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—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 10:48 AM | Comments (7)

February 13, 2014

It's Not Our Fault If It's a Perfect Storm!

Whenever elites fail in a gigantic, public way, you can be sure of one thing: it was a "perfect storm," so you can't blame them for what happened.

Edward Snowden's leak of NSA documents was, at least by their standards, a big failure. But as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained to Congress on Tuesday, it wasn't their fault because it was a perfect storm:

The director, James R. Clapper Jr., testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Snowden had taken advantage of a “perfect storm” of security lapses.

Why was there a gigantic financial crisis in 2008? According to the International Monetary Fund's chief economist, you can't blame them because it was a perfect storm:

In short, underestimation of risk, opacity, interconnection, and leverage, all combined to create the perfect (financial) storm.

Why was New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina? According to then-Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, you can't blame them because it was a perfect storm:

"That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight," Chertoff said. He called the disaster "breathtaking in its surprise."

And why did everyone in the U.S. government believe Iraq was teeming with WMD? According to a top U.S. intelligence official, you can't blame them because it was a perfect storm:

[W]as Iraq, as one senior intelligence official told the Commission, a sort of “perfect storm”—a one-time breakdown caused by a rare confluence of events that conspired to create a bad result?

That's four perfect storms in ten years. Man, our elites have the worst luck.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 11:24 AM | Comments (8)

February 09, 2014

I.F. Stone on the Expensive Pointlessness of "Intelligence"

This is I.F. Stone speaking in 1984, from the book I.F. Stone: A Portrait:

This whole business of intelligence, it's a waste of money, highly overrated. You don't understand what's happening in history or in your time by peeking through keyholes…

What's the good of all the money we spend on intelligence? When they get an intelligence report that has something in it, they ignore it. They don't like to read. They want everything on one piece of paper…

There very few things that are really secret or remain secret for very long. Basically, an intelligence service is there to tell the boss he's doing the right thing. It's very overrated and we're swamped with these organizations.

We're becoming a partially closed society. It's a terrible concept...those few members of Congress who have access to the oversight committees become prisoners of the intelligence apparatus because they can't say what they've seen. And if they come out and criticize, they can't produce the proof, because the proof is classified. It's a disease…

When I was in Russia, the phone book was classified. The dictators in the Politburo, they don't know what's going on. You don't know what's going on if you depend on cops, on secret police. Paranoia is a disease of secret police. They're paid to be suspicious of their grandmothers. And that isn't the way you understand people or what is going on. We're getting Sovietized in this country. Thank God it is nowhere near as bad, but it's creeping.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 10:50 AM | Comments (14)

January 06, 2014

Manfred’s Life (As I Knew It)

This is by my cousin Nora Hanke, who's a pediatrician, rescues animals, grows her own kale and has a huge solar array to help power her house. I.e., she does everything right. Also, she once told me about infected abscesses in such detail that I fainted.

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Manfred’s Life (As I Knew It)

Manfred came into my life in September, 2000 when I saw a skinny little kitten run under dumpster at the Southampton Transfer Station. I asked a worker about him and was told, “Oh, he’s been hanging around here for a couple weeks. Someone dumped him off. It happens all the time. He is going to starve to death.”

“No way,” I thought.

Continue reading "Manfred’s Life (As I Knew It) "

Posted at 02:44 PM | Comments (4)

January 03, 2014

Snowden Accuser Gordon G. Chang Works for Think Tank Run by Notorious Liars

Gordon G. Chang, currently seen in the Daily Beast claiming Edward Snowden had "high-level contact" with Chinese officials while in Hong Kong, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

That's notable because the main people who run Gatestone are John Bolton (chairman) and Amir Taheri (chairman, Gatestone Europe), two of the most flagrant liars in high level politics.

Bolton lied under oath during his confirmation hearings to be U.S. Ambassador to the UN in 2005, claiming he'd "made no effort to have discipline imposed" on a State Department analyst who refused to sign off on statements that Cuba had a biological weapons program. Bolton's denial that he'd tried to punish the analyst was contradicted by other Department staffers and documentary evidence. (Bolton also led the 2002 charge to force out José Bustani from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Bustani was making plans to send inspectors to Iraq, which Bolton opposed because it would complicate the push for war.)

Amir Taheri made international news in 2006 by reporting that the Iranian parliament had passed a law that would require Jews to wear badges in public. This led to a gigantic, embarrassing public retraction by Canada's National Post (see below), which had pushed the story on its front page. Taheri's PR agent Eleana Benador then explained that accuracy is "a luxury"—because while Taheri may have written "one or two details that are not accurate" what mattered most was "to side with what's right."

And in terms of what's right, John Bolton says that Edward Snowden has committed treason and "should hang from an old oak tree." It's impossible to know whether Chang has simply made his entire story up, but he's certainly part of a milieu that encourages and celebrates lying to get the desired results.

***

Here's a screenshot of the National Post's retraction of the Taheri story. The Daily Beast might want to study it as a model for the future.

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—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 08:43 PM | Comments (10)

December 27, 2013

First They Came for the Ostjuden, But I Did Not Speak Up, Because I Was a Westjude. And Looking Back That Was Arguably a Mistake.

One of humanity's least attractive characteristics is our tendency to be cool with the persecution of others when we don't think that persecution will ever be applied to us. But of course if there's any lesson from history, it's that persecution of even the most despised minorities will spread—so if you know what's good for you, you'll oppose it out of self-interest even if it doesn't apply to you right this second.

Here's a story along these lines from I.F. Stone:

I followed the rise of Hitler very closely, beginning in twenty-nine and thirty. I remember one German-Jewish reader [of the Philadelphia Record] coming to me, about thirty-one or thirty-two. He said, "Why are you writing these editorials against Hitler? I got a letter from Germany that says he's only against Ostjuden [Eastern Jews].

There have been many bad calls like this throughout history, and this was certainly among the worst. But at least German Jews usually did not personally help murder Eastern European Jews, whereas much of the Armenian genocide was carried out by Turkish Kurds. Their theory, I guess, was that as a persecuted minority their best move was to help kill another persecuted minority because governments that kill one persecuted minority never ever do it to another one.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 11:37 AM | Comments (35)

December 17, 2013

Has Morley Safer Ever Told John Miller This Story?: 'Look, If You Think Any American Official Is Going to Tell You the Truth, Then You're Stupid'

Everyone who watched the 60 Minutes segment on the NSA should follow it up with this story involving Morley Safer—who, at 82 years old, is still a correspondent at 60 Minutes:

In August, 1965 Safer appeared in what became one of most famous TV segments of the Vietnam War, showing U.S. troops setting fire to all the huts in a Vietnamese village with Zippo lighters and flamethrowers.

A year later in 1966, Safer wrote an article about what he'd seen first hand during a visit to Vietnam by Arthur Sylvester, then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (i.e., the head of Pentagon PR). Sylvester met at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon with reporters for U.S. news outlets:

There was general opening banter, which Sylvester quickly brushed aside. He seemed anxious to take a stand—to say something that would jar us. He said:

"I can't understand how you fellows can write what you do while American boys are dying out here," he began. Then he went on to the effect that American correspondents had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good.

A network television correspondent said, "Surely, Arthur, you don't expect the American press to be the handmaidens of government."

"That's exactly what I expect," came the reply.

An agency man raised the problem that had preoccupied Ambassador Maxwell Taylor and Barry Zorthian—about the credibility of American officials. Responded the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs:

"Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you're stupid. Did you hear that?—stupid."

One of the most respected of all the newsmen in Vietnam—a veteran of World War II, the Indochina War and Korea—suggested that Sylvester was being deliberately provocative. Sylvester replied:

"Look, I don't even have to talk to you people. I know how to deal with you through your editors and publishers back in the States."

At this point, the Hon. Arthur Sylvester put his thumbs in his ears, bulged his eyes, stuck out his tongue and wiggled his fingers.

There are several significant aspects to this:

• A top U.S. official was honest enough to tell reporters: look, we lie to you constantly and you're a moron if you believe anything we say. He also honestly expressed his total contempt for them and intention to manipulate news coverage by dealing directly with their management and employers.

Moreover, Sylvester (who before going to work for the Pentagon had been the Washington correspondent for the Newark News) put his beliefs into practice at key moments of history. He lied about what the U.S. knew about Soviet missiles in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and personally told the key lies about the Gulf of Tonkin incident (listen to him here). And word was passed to Safer's superiors at CBS that "Unless you get Safer out of there, he's liable to end up with a bullet in his back."

This is such important information about how politics and the media work that it should be taught to everyone in 2nd grade. It's not.

• Even if regular people don't know this story, you'd expect it to be famous within the media—and particularly famous at 60 Minutes. You might even imagine that "If you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you're stupid" would be spray-painted on the walls of the 60 Minutes offices. But if the performance of John Miller and his producers on the NSA segment is anything to go by, that is not the case.

It's hard to imagine what more the U.S. government could do to get reporters to distrust it, and all for naught. John Miller likely has an office feet away from someone who's been told by a top U.S. official that reporters are morons if they believe anything top U.S. officials say. Miller's response? Believe everything top U.S. officials say. (Of course, given that Miller is recreating Sylvester's career path, it may also simply be that he agrees with Sylvester on the necessity of the press being handmaidens of government.)

• Even if reporters have forgotten this story, you'd expect that it would be Exhibit A for left-wing media critics and repeated so often that it at least would be common knowledge in those limited circles. Yet the forces of forgetting in the U.S. are so powerful that I'd never encountered it, and I'm probably one of America's top 25 consumers of left-wing media criticism. I can't find any references to it by Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Norman Solomon, Jeff Cohen, Robert Parry, Robert McChesney or Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. (William Blum does tell part of what happened in his book Killing Hope, and the main quote appears in some online collections of quotes about the media.)

To make it even more surprising, Safer story was well-known enough at the time that Indiana's anti-war Senator Vance Hartke referred to it in the Congressional Record as "the now famous article." And references to it often appeared in books about Vietnam during the late sixties and early seventies. But after that it evaporated.

So if something this significant can disappear from history, truly only god knows what else has been thrown down the memory hole. To try to pull it back, I'm putting the entire text of the article online for the first time below, and adding the gist to Safer's wikipedia page.

I'm also going to try to get John Miller to answer a straightforward question: has Morley Safer ever told him this story?

***

(Click here for an image of the article as it appeared in the Southern Illinoisan on September 1, 1966)

'Look, If You Think Any American Official Is Going to Tell You the Truth, Then You're Stupid'

By Morley Safer
Of the Columbia Broadcasting System

There has been no war quite like it. Never have so many words been churned out, never has so much l6-mm film been exposed. And never has the reporting of a story been so much a part of the story itself.

This has been true whether you are reporting television's first war, as I have been, or for one of the print media. Washington has been critical of American newsmen in Saigon almost continuously since 1961. That criticism has manifested itself in a number of ways—from the cancellation of newspaper subscriptions to orders to put certain correspondents on ice to downright threat.

As a friend of mine puts It, "The brass wants you to get on the team."

To the brass, getting on the team means simply giving the United States government line in little more than handout. It means accepting what you are told without question. At times it means turning your back on facts.

I know of few reporters in Viet Nam who have "gotten on the team." The fact is, the American people are getting an accurate picture of the war in spite of attempts by various officials—mostly in Washington—to present the facts in a different way. That is why certain correspondents have been vilified, privately and publicly.

By late winter of 1964-1965 the war was clearly becoming an American war. And with it came an American responsibility for providing and reporting facts. American officials thus were able to deal directly with reporters. The formality of "checking it out with the Vietnamese" ceased to be relevant.

In Washington the burden of responsibility of giving, controlling and managing the war news from Viet Nam fell to—and remains with—one man: Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

By early summer of 1965 the first set of ground rules had been laid down for reporting battles and casualties. There was no censorship but a very loose kind of honor system that put the responsibility for not breaking security on the shoulders of correspondents. The rules were vague and were therefore continually broken.

For military and civilian officials in Viet Nam there was another set of rules—rather another honor system that was not so much laid down as implied. "A policy of total candor" is a phrase used by Barry Zorthian, minister-counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Zorthian is what Time calls "the information czar" in Viet Nam.

The breaking of the vague ground rules was something that annoyed everyone. Correspondents were rocketed by their editors, and the military in Viet Nam felt that Allied lives were being endangered. So in midsummer, when Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara came to Saigon and brought Sylvester with him, we all looked forward to the formulation of a clear-cut policy. Sylvester was to meet the press in an informal session to discuss mutual problems. The meeting was to take the vagueness out of the ground rules.

The Sylvester meeting was surely one of the most disheartening meetings between reporters and a news manager ever held.

It was a sticky July evening. Inside Zorthian's villa it was cool. But Zorthian was less relaxed than usual. He was anxious for Sylvester to get an idea of the mood of the news corps. There had been some annoying moments in previous weeks that had directly involved Sylvester's own office. In the first B-52 raids, Pentgaon releases were in direct contradiction to what had actually happened on the ground in Viet Nam.

There was general opening banter, which Sylvester quickly brushed aside. He seemed anxious to take a stand—to say something that would jar us. He said:

"I can't understand how you fellows can write what you do while American boys are dying out here," he began. Then he went on to the effect that American correspondents had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good.

A network television correspondent said, "Surely, Arthur, you don't expect the American press to be the handmaidens of government."

"That's exactly what I expect," came the reply.

An agency man raised the problem that had preoccupied Ambassador Maxwell Taylor and Barry Zorthian—about the credibility of American officials. Responded the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs:

"Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you're stupid. Did you hear that?—stupid."

One of the most respected of all the newsmen in Vietnam—a veteran of World War II, the Indochina War and Korea—suggested that Sylvester was being deliberately provocative. Sylvester replied:

"Look, I don't even have to talk to you people. I know how to deal with you through your editors and publishers back in the States."

At this point, the Hon. Arthur Sylvester put his thumbs in his ears, bulged his eyes, stuck out his tongue and wiggled his fingers.

A correspondent for one of the New York papers began a question. He never got beyond the first few words. Sylvester interrupted:

"Aw, come on, What does someone in New York care about the war in Viet Nam?"

We got down to immediate practical matters—the problems of communication, access to military planes, getting out to battles.

"Do you guys want to be spoon-fed? Why don't you get out and cover the war?"

It was a jarring and insulting remark. Most of the people in that room has spent as much time on actual operations as most GI's.

The relationship between reporters and public information officers in Saigon, or the other hand, has been a good, healthy one. The relationship in the field is better, and in dealing with the men who fight the war it is very good indeed.


ABOUT THE ARTICLE

Arthur Sylvester, assistant secretary of defense in charge of public affairs, said Wednesday that no government official should lie when giving out information about the country.

He said it was all right to withhold information to safeguard the country. He was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This article is one correspondent's report of Sylvester's statement about truth in public affairs one year ago.

THIS article is excerpted from "Dateline 1966: Covering War," a publication of the Overseas Press Club of America.

Posted at 07:28 AM | Comments (12)

November 21, 2013

Wow, 2013 Samantha Power Was Just EXCORIATED by 2003 Samantha Power

This is what Samantha Power, now U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said today when asked whether the U.S. owes Afghans any kind of apology:

POWER: We have nothing to apologize for. Our soldiers have sacrificed a great deal.

This is what Power said at her confirmation hearings earlier this year:

POWER: America is the greatest country in the world and we have nothing to apologize for.

This is what Power said in 2003 about the weird, gross refusal of states and the people who serve them to refuse to ever apologize for anything:

POWER: It's the tendency of states, and as you could argue that on some level it is also of individuals, not to look back and not to reckon with what we've done wrong. Often if you look at our country ... we don't, states don't do that generally speaking.

So it's actually more interesting to look at historical precedents where states do. … And what's so amazing, briefly, is how much more it means to the victims, how therapeutic it can be, simply even to say it happened. It's a continuum, right, of reckoning – from "It happened," to "It happened and I was there," to "It happened and I was there and in fact I did it," or we, our predecessors did it, to "We did it and we made a mistake," to "We did it and we're sorry," to "We did it and we're sorry and here's your property back and here's some money." You know what I mean? And to not even start along that road ... but again, I do think we need to look at ourselves...

For more on Power's transition from someone who occasionally was honest about the U.S. government to someone who constantly lies, see here.

Already the Ring tempted her, gnawing at her will and reason. Wild fantasies arose in her mind; and she saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to her call...

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—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 12:57 PM | Comments (18)

November 16, 2013

World's Luckiest Cat Runs Out of Luck

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(Muppet, seen here upset about being interrupted while working on his novel)

Many cat owners believe their cats have some kind of unique personality, different from other cats. As someone who's owned his fair share of cats, I can attest that this, in most cases, is just a tempting illusion. Cats generally have one lovable but generic personality, with minor variations.

That said, there are unusual cats, and my cat Muppet was one of those. I was hoping he would make it to November 22nd so that [JOKE REDACTED DUE TO PARENT SENSITIVITY]. Then he'd leave the world in as unusual manner as he lived in it. But it was not to be.

I found Muppet the night of January 7th, 1996 as I was walking home from midtown Manhattan to my apartment on West 109th Street through the third-worst blizzard in New York City history. I was on Central Park West around 103rd Street when he appeared from between the garbage cans outside the front door of a building facing the park. He looked almost full grown, was incredibly friendly and didn't have a collar or any other sign of belonging to people. And the snow was falling so thickly. I couldn't help picking him up and taking him with me; what I remember is that he didn't struggle at all, he just somehow accepted that I had his best interests at heart.

Our crossing paths was the first and biggest stroke of luck in Muppet's life. He was about to begin the greatest rags-to-riches story in cat history.

Continue reading "World's Luckiest Cat Runs Out of Luck"

Posted at 04:56 PM | Comments (22)

November 10, 2013

Mark Dubowitz Is an Object Lesson in Where Bigotry Comes From

Mark Dubowitz is the director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank which was "founded by a group of former U.S. officials and visionary philanthropists shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001 to help free nations defend themselves."

Right now Dubowitz is defending America by making sure we aren't fooled by Iran in the current nuclear negotiations. He recently told the New York Times "the Obama administration has entered the Persian nuclear bazaar and gotten totally out negotiated," and the Daily Beast that it "sounds like Obama decided to enter the Persian nuclear bazaar to haggle with the masters of negotiation and has had his head handed to him." And he's not the only one: Washington Post foreign policy specialist Jim Hoagland has warned "Fooling foreigners and adversaries is an ancient Persian art form." Israeli columnist Smadar Peri writes that the U.S. could be facing "a trick in the spirit of the Persian bazaar." And Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute says it's too late: "The world’s great bazaaris are chuckling because they’ve just sold their nuclear weapons program to the world’s worst bargainers."

So the message is clear: Iranians are extremely sneaky – and simple, honest folk like ourselves are vulnerable to their devious machinations.

But are Dubowitz & co. right? I can't claim I've conducted a careful, in-depth study on comparative Iranian sneakiness. In fact, I'm not even sure how you'd do that. So let's look at it from another angle: have people like Dubowitz ever been convinced that another group was particularly wily and ready to take advantage of our naiveté at any moment?

Spoiler alert: yes.

• Let's start with Native Americans, who were awful from the beginning. A Jamestown colonist wrote "A Breif discription of the People" in 1607, where he explained:

The people steal anything that comes neare them, yea are so practized in this art that lookeing in our face they would with their foote betweene their toes convey a chizell knife, percer or any indifferent light thing: which having once conveyed they hold it an injury to take the same from them; They are naturally given to trechery

You have to admit, that sounds pretty Persian.

• In 1789 a doctor named James Makittrick Adair wrote Unanswerable Arguments against the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which contains a chapter titled "Moral and Political Character of the Africans." It turns out they were just like Native Americans:

CUNNING. Most savage nations are artful...and their acumen in concerting the best means to attain the end desired is wonderful; and the artifices and pretexs they use...are so various, and often so uncommon, it is very difficult to detect them.

• Then there are Jews, who, as described by Joseph Goebbels in 1941, turn out to be exactly the same as Native Americans and Africans:

It is difficult to detect their sly and slippery ways. One has to be an experienced student of the Jews to recognize what is happening...the Jew is the master of the lie. He is such an expert on twisting the truth that he can tell his innocent opponent the exact opposite of the truth even on the plainest matter in the world.

Just as the Germans were lucky to have Goebbels, we're lucky to have Mark Dubowitz, who's an experienced student of the Persians and can recognize what is happening.

• During Pakistan's civil war in 1971, Richard Nixon had strong feelings about the people of India, who were giving him problems with their neutrality in the cold war. And it turned out regular Indians were indistinguishable from American Indians:

The President [said] they [Indians] are "a slippery, treacherous people." He felt that they would like nothing better than to use this tragedy to destroy Pakistan. ... The President said that the situation "smells bad." The Indians are not to be trusted.

At another point Nixon told Henry Kissinger that what "the Indians need" was "a mass famine."

• During the late seventies, Richard Helms – the former head of the CIA and ambassador to Iran – told Congress that Eastern Europeans and "Asiatics" can easily lie in a way that honest Americans just can't:

We discovered there were some Eastern Europeans who could defeat the polygraph at any time. Americans are not very good at it, because we are raised to tell the truth and when we lie it is easy to tell are lying. But we find a lot of Europeans and Asiatics can handle that polygraph without a blip, and you know they are lying and you have evidence that they are lying.

• Finally, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak revealed this about Palestinians in 2001:

[Arafat] did not negotiate in good faith…They will exploit the tolerance and democracy of Israel...They are products of a culture in which to tell a lie…creates no dissonance. They don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn’t...There is no such thing as "the truth."

So, what should we make of all this?

It's a little easy to call Mark Dubowitz a hateful bigot. So let's do it: Mark Dubowitz is a hateful bigot. And his grandchildren will be embarrassed by him just as white American teenagers today are embarrassed when their racist grandfather starts blathering about Obama being born in Kenya.

Nevertheless, it's a mistake to view Dubowitz as inexplicably, irredeemably awful. What history demonstrates is that every group of human beings tends to see itself as uniquely honest and trustworthy, and other groups as abnormally tricksy. And this tendency becomes especially pronounced within a powerful group when it's brutalizing another and has plans for further brutalization. Human beings can't do terrible things to people who are just like them, so they invent reasons why those people aren't.

In other words, racism is generally structural rather than the fault of specific, bad human beings. James Makittrick Adair didn't start out as a racist and then decide that made it cool for him to own Africans. Instead, he wanted a bunch of other people to work for him for free, and that made him a racist.

Likewise, Dubowitz didn't start out as a racist and then decide that, because Persians are so sneaky, the United States has to run the mideast. Instead, he started out by believing the U.S. has to govern the mideast with no Iranian influence, and – because it's insane to think it makes sense for a country 6,000 miles away to run a region with no input from the people who live there – he had to become a racist in self-defense.

Et voilà, the sneaky Persian bazaar. So people like Dubowitz won't stop being bigots and then give up on their bizarre, impossible fantasy of eternal U.S. power over every inch of planet earth. It can only happen the other way around: if they give up their fantasy, their bigotry will evaporate. It's not impossible this will happen to Dubowitz. (And then he'll have to get another job.)

P.S. The New York Times and Daily Beast would never publish people expressing this kind of garbage about non-Muslims. Hopefully it won't be long before they won't publish it about anyone.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at 08:19 AM | Comments (15)