Every time I read a really stupid Fred Kaplan piece, and today's is no exception in the stupidity department, I always think two things. Firstly, I wonder at how he could have procured a PhD in Political Science from MIT; and secondly, I am unsurprised he chose journalism and not a career in academia. Kaplan's writing would never survive peer review of any reasonable standard, even in today's academy.
Here is what passes for "logic" in a Kaplan piece:
Much outrage has been vented over President George W. Bush's May 15 address to the Knesset, where he likened negotiating with Iran or Hamas to appeasing Nazi Germany. His remarks were mendacious in many ways, not only as a dishonest attack on Barack Obama.
But the controversy has distracted attention from another passage in the speech, which highlights a more serious matter—the scandalous inadequacy of this president's foreign policy, the glaring gap between his rhetoric and his behavior, the startling inattention to diplomatic strategy and tactics. [emphasis added.]
Yeah, Bush is such a rube! Diplomacy is the only way to go! Yeah, diplomacy!
Come on Fred, do that voodoo, that you do. Show us the diplomatic good stuff!
This tendency—his failure to devise tangible goals or carve out a path to meet them—was on display again Friday in Riyadh, where Bush had flown to celebrate the 75th anniversary of formal relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Bush met privately with King Abdullah to plead for expanded oil production and thus lower gas prices. The king brusquely turned him down, just as he turned down a similar request from Bush last January.
Later in the day, the Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, twisted the knife a few notches further by saying, at a press conference, that his government had already increased production by 20 percent—then added that this move was in response to requests from some 50 customers all over the world, not just from Bush. (In other words, he went out of his way to avoid giving even the impression of doing the United States a favor.)
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, took another poke at Bush. "The president showed great concern for the impact on the American economy," the prince told the press corps. "We of course sympathize with that." Period. The end.
Believe it or not, Kaplan seems unaware that he has completely undermined the supposed "premise" of his argument. If you are trying to show the vital importance and primacy of diplomacy, why would you present a case that clearly shows the near total inefficacy of diplomatic maneuver? It isn't as if the Bush administration hasn't had to backtrack on plenty of other matters which might have backed up Kaplan.
If we are going to confine ourselves to the larger questions of Hamas and Iran, I do have another question. Can Kaplan name one group, organization or country that has employed genocidal rhetoric in the past who has dropped the whole genocide thing as a result of diplomatic niceties?
I disagree with McCain on a lot of things, but he gets this.