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Friday, July 24, 2015

the mystery of the NYRB's article, the mystery of ISIS

These are times that try men’s ribcages – due to the laughter the bigwig journals provoke. Case in point is an “analysis” of Isis that was published by “Anonymous”, in the NYRB. We are assured by the editors that Anonymous is a very serious person. In fact, so serious that the editors seem to have blithely given him carte blanche to say things and give references that have the same relation to fact as, say, the figures of monsters on medieval maps have to zoology. At least the medieval cartographers were cute.

But where to begin? Reading the hopeless mess of the article, I was struck by one passage.
“The movement’s behavior, however, has not become less reckless or tactically bizarre since Zarqawi’s death. One US estimate by Larry Schweikart suggested that 40,000 insurgents had been killed, about 200,000 wounded, and 20,000 captured before the US even launched the surge in 2006.” 

I asked myself why such a toll hadn’t attracted much more world wide attention. Then I looked up the “u.s.” analyst, Larry Schweikart. There’s no reference for Schweikart’s article, but going to Schweikart's author page, I learned all about his expertise in Iraqi history, which is, it appears, considerably less than his knowledge of the electric guitar, which he once played in a minor rock bank. His cv is unimpressive even by the low standards of second rate institutions of higher education. It consists most impressively of the fact that he co-wrote a book entitle Patriot’s History of the US and a bestseller entitled 48 Liberal Lies About American History.  So, basically, under the highminded pretence that we are reading about anonymous' very informed views about the Middle East, where he served in some kind of diplomatic capacity, heaven help us, we are served up retreads from Fox and Friends, which often interviews Mr. Schweikart. NYRB, meet Daily Caller. At least the rightwing site makes no pretences. 
It is interesting that in the period of time since 2002, when the media hysteria about Iraq was at its height, to now, when the media hysteria about ISIS is at its height, the major journals have learned absolutely nothing about reporting. The NYR should profusely apologize to its readers for thrusting anonymous on their attention. I doubt they will.

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