Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

October 3, 2007

Robert Fisk

Filed under: politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 10:03 am

Robert Fisk is a correspondent for the Independent, a newspaper in the UK. He has covered the Middle East for a number of years. He’s won numerous awards, although I imagine his critics would cite them as examples of self-loathing, anti-Americanism institutions such as Amnesty International. Fisk is a center of some controversy. In fact, some Internet jargon is termed after him.

Eric S. Raymond has this in his jargon file:

fisking: n. [blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment.

Although, it should be noted that Eric S. Raymond is an adherent of anti-idiotarianism.

anti-idiotarianism: n. [very common] Opposition to idiots of all political stripes. First coined in the blog named Little Green Footballs as part of a post expressing disgust with inane responses to post-9/11 Islamic terrorism. Anti-idiotarian wrath has focused on Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers in the Western political left, but also routinely excoriated right-wing politicians backing repressive ’anti-terror‘ legislation and Christian religious figures who (in the blogosphere’s view of the matter) have descended nearly to the level of jihad themselves.

Here is a link to “An Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto” for those that need more information. Although, it seems to be revised since last I read it to be critical of the political right. Previously, it was mostly aimed at the left who were sympathizing with obviously implacable Islamo-fascists.

The great thing about “anti-idiotarian” is that people who disagree are quite naturally idiots. There is nothing quite like an ideology that has a central premise that all those that disagree are idiots. Usually, I reserve the right to change my mind when confronted with superior evidence. In fact, I think that is a mark of intelligence and wisdom, of not being an “idiot.” Therefore, I assert that being “anti-idiotarian” is, in fact, a paradox. The logical conclusions of this are left as an exercise for the reader.

Regardless, Robert Fisk does have a great deal of experience in the region. However, Ethan Bronner made the most unusual criticism of Robert Fisk’s book “The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.”

The West’s sins of ignorance and aggression in the Middle East are real. Fisk lays them out in depressing detail, quoting American military men on “Eye-rack” and “Ay-rabs” and making clear that the failings of the Iraqi occupation were utterly predictable. But his many legitimate points are sometimes warped by his perspective.

A perspective he has gained after living in Beirut for 30 years and covering the Middle East extensively.

Fisk’s perspective is presumably assailed because he doesn’t give both sides of a story equal weight. Or maybe it isn’t sympathetic enough to Israeli expansionism or American exceptionalism. However, any sense of morality and justice demands sympathy for the victims, not perpetrators, and fundamental equality among actors. Maybe what he doesn’t get, to bastardize a phrase from “Animal Farm,” is that all men are equal, but some men are more equal than others.

Here is Robert Fisk on “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman.

and here are parts (2, 3 and 4).

Part 4, Fisk talks about Iran. In his opinion, they will retaliate if attacked. It will not be like bombing Iraq or Yugoslavia. Iran has the capability of providing a response indirectly through organizations they support. They are most likely to employ asymmetric warfare. As Karl Rove suggested, they may try to turn oil into a weapon. Force countries, like China, to use their vast stores of reserve currency against the U.S. to keep their economies going. An economic fight, I don’t think the United States is in a good position to win.

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