Tag Archives: Barry Rubin

The Age of Idiocy

When It Comes to Analyzing the Middle East, We Live in the Age of Idiocy

By Barry Rubin

After more than 30 years of watching people write dumb things about the Middle East, I believe that in the last month I’ve seen more nonsense than at any previous time. The problem arises from ignorance, lack of understanding of the region by those presented as experts; plus arrogance, treating the region and the lives of people as a game (Hey, let’s try this and see what happens!), fostered by the failure of such control mechanisms as a balanced debate and editing that rejects simplistic bias or stupidity; as well as a simple lack of logic.

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Middle East: Listen to What They're Saying, in their own language, not English

Middle East: LIsten to What They’re Saying, in their own language, not English,   By Barry Rubin:

Here’s a tip for understanding the Middle East. For Arabic-speaking countries and groups, there are two parallel lines of discourse going on: one in English, one in Arabic. The English-language one is directed outward at the West; the Arabic-speaking is for the direction of policymakers, opinionmakers, and the masses. Not surprisingly, the first is more moderate; the latter, more radical.

The exact proportions vary with each country or movement. But even in Egypt, a large-scale recipient of U.S. aid, the state-controlled newspapers publish an almost unending stream of anti-American hate propaganda. A key problem, however, is that most Western policymakers, opinionmakers, and journalists either don’t take non-English talk seriously or aren’t even aware of it.

In contrast, democratic states like Israel or America says basically the same thing in both languages, with at most very small variations. Perhaps that’s one reason why many or most Westerners aren’t aware of the wide gap that exists in other societies.

090510-molavi-hamasGenocidal scum: Galloway & Ismail Hanyeh

The variation between true and false discourse—though sometimes in the same language—is, of course, quite ancient. In the “Communist Manifesto” of 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote:

“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.”

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A NYT Reporter Gets a Dose of Reality

Freed Reporter Smashes U.S. Policy Myths About Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban

By Barry Rubin/The Rubin Report

talibanFanatical frenzy, worse than hydrophobia in a dog….

When reality breaks into the mainstream media it can be of earthquake intensity. Such is the New York Times article by David Rohde, a journalist held prisoner by the Taliban for over seven months and finally released.

Paki & Talib News updates:

Rohde’s conclusions aren’t of much comfort for the Obama Administration, or for those who are naive about radical Islamists, or indeed for his fellow journalists. But his honest thinking out loud should affect their writings and policies.

During his captivity, Rohde writes:

“I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the
organization as a form of `Al Qaeda lite,’ a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.”

But he came to understand from close observation as a prisoner:

“I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious….They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al-Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.”

Not that other reporters learned anything from his experience:

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