Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Do Officials, Journalists, Academics, Analysts React to Critiques of Conventional Wisdom on the Middle East? Answer: They Don't!

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
26 April '10

A reader asks:
I have found your most recent articles hugely helpful in debunking so much of the international myth that the Israeli Palestinian conflict dominates and is the root cause of every problem facing the entire Middle East.

But then I largely agree with everything you and Jonathan Spyer have to say.

Apart from hate mail and frivolous objections from doubtful sources, which I am sure you get your fair share, do you ever get reasoned and logical analysis from other serious Middle Eastern experts or professors who find fault with your ideas or reject your premises entirely?

Thanks. You have asked a very good question. And the answer is simple: No, literally never. In fact, never. Why is this?

Rather than the historic ideas that governed serious analysis and scholarly work for centuries, there seems to be a pattern now that viewpoints other than the dominant one—U.S. and West largely at fault, Islamism is not the central problem, Arab-Israeli conflict at core of region, radical groups can be moderated, Syria can be won over, Palestinians eager for peace, etc.--need not be taken into account. The style seems to be that one begins with a thesis, gathers whatever talking points or documentation needed to promote or prove it, and then that is sufficient without dealing with the best arguments to the contrary.

What is missing is the need to engage and respond to other arguments. Many of my articles consist of taking up a text or speech or article by someone, honestly trying to understand fully the ideas presented, analyzing them, and then responding where I think they are wrong as well as right.

Of course, I’m presenting a perspective but I have to prove it, with evidence and persuasive logic. I probably spend almost as much time quoting people I disagree with--and linking to what they've said--as I do saying what I think. You can see both sides and judge for yourself.

(Read full post)

Please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment