Open Zion

09.18.12

The Washington Bubble Post

The opinion pages of my hometown paper seem to continue going down the right-wing rabbit hole on the Middle East. I've had many things to say before about the Washington Post's hiring of Jennifer Rubin a couple years ago, but that now seems like only the most severe symptom of an ideological proclivity reflected in a great deal of hawkish op-eds on Iran and, today, a string of them that miss the boat entirely on the so-called embassy riots across the Muslim world. At his Council on Foreign Relations blog, Micah Zenko nails it:

With the demonstrations and attacks against U.S. embassies and consulates, Americans are once again asking, “Why do they hate us?” Today, the Washington Post published three op-eds that attempt to answer this question by decrying the Obama administration’s Middle East policy. Consistent with the general approach of the Post’s opinion page, none of the op-eds are written by individuals with Middle East policymaking experience or expertise in the region. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that not one contains a single actionable policy recommendation for the Obama administration.

The single unifying theme underscoring the op-eds is an assumption that every negative outcome in the Middle East (in that it harms U.S. interests) is the result of U.S. foreign policy decisions, and that the situation can be corrected by changing policy—usually, this requires less “fecklessness” by moving additional military forces into the region. Or, if the entire Middle East region were simply given a little more high-level attention by the White House, or provided with incrementally more foreign aid, the situation will improve.

Zenko runs through the op-eds; I won't bore you with details except to say that the opinion pages writ large seem only slightly less detached from reality than Rubin's regular partisan vitriol. The fact of the matter—as I noted in the comclusion of my piece on the protests this morning—is that the U.S. is not always driving these events, and can sometimes do little to control them. That goes for the protests and the Arab Spring. It's about time those inside the Washington bubble, manifested today in the Post, realized this too.