Very Serious People Alert
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg
In an otherwise good piece about Obama's foreign policy vision today in the NY Times today, I find one of my most irritating pet peeves. Taking a pundit or broad generalist with no real foreign policy experience and equating them to a whole bunch of experts who have dedicated their entire careers to studying and implementing foreign policy.
On the other hand, centrists like Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, are skeptical about the efficacy of soft power in this case. Obama, says Marshall, appears to believe that “the threat we face is an Al Qaeda threat — a tiny minority of malignant criminals who have absolutely no public support.” In fact, says Marshall, “Al Qaeda has broad support in the Islamic world,” and Salafism, the extremist branch of Sunni Islam, “is in the ascendant.
Let's again be clear. Will Marshall is NOT part of the foreign policy community. Just check out his bio. There is absolutely nothing in his background that has anything to do with foreign policy. He really doesn't know all that much about this stuff.
Compare that to the folks who are actually advising Obama and are being referenced in this article: Tony Lake, Susan Rice, Richard Danzig, Zbig Brzezinski, Gen. Merrill McPeak, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration to name a few. As opposed to Marshall they actually have real foreign policy experience. If the Times wanted the Clinton position it should have gotten Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright or Sandy Berger to comment. But elevating Marshall's status is precisely how you get talking heads, instead of real experts, talking about serious issues like Iraq and Iran.