December 18, 2003

The Fisk Chronicles Josh Marshall:

The Fisk Chronicles

Josh Marshall:

"In his opening remarks Perle noted that he had recently been on a radio program with Independent columnist Robert Fisk (he then made a throwaway line suggesting that Fisk and I were 'pals'). Fisk had said that he thought the capture of Saddam Hussein would strengthen the resistance movement by removing the taint of Saddam and thus allowing it to become a more broadly national or at least pan-Sunni enterprise.

Perle mocked what he took to be Fisk's desperate spin and said it was an example of trying to make the facts fit your ideology, rather than vice versa."

Marshall goes on to link this Juan Cole post and a Philly Inquirer piece that indicates that some intelligence estimates forecast a spike in insurgent activity after a prospective Saddam apprehension.

All well and good. These are all very real possibilities. The point was made, more comprehensively than by Cole or the article Marshall links, here.

But that's not the point. Ask yourself, what makes a guy like Perle call Fisk "execrable"?

What makes the term "Fisking" enter the lexicon in such widespread fashion?

It's that, a very long time ago, Fisk basically persuaded himself that nothing good can come out of American involvement in the Middle East writ large. And so his stories (universally, at least to my eye) cannot overcome this knee-jerk and myopic anti-American outlook.

To be sure, one can intelligently argue that Saddam's apprehension will somehow lead to an uptick an anti-American violence in Iraq. But can't you at least entertain, even if just for a brief moment, the possibility that it might have a salutary effect from the perspective of Americans?

That, just maybe, it could lead to a dimunition in violence? I mean, who knows finally?

That's what Marshall misses. It's not just the supposed "desperate spin" of Fisk that's necessarily being mocked by Perle and myriad others. It's a long track record of visceral dislike of all American involvement in the Middle East.

I mean, take a look here, here or here.

Some snippets:

"It must have been cold in that hole. And no colder than when the hands of Washington-the-all-Powerful reached out across oceans and continents and came to rest on that odd-looking pot plant and hauled the would-be Caliph from his tiny cell."

Washington, Washington, Washington. He's obsessed, isn't he?

How about this one (from the Fisk article written the day after Saddam's capture that Marshall approvingly links)?

"Peace" and "reconciliation" were the patois of Downing Street and the White House yesterday. But all those hopes of a collapse of resistance are doomed."

How can Fisk be so very sure of this? So completely certain?

He presents the doom and gloom as a fait accompli. But no one is omniscient. Finally, it's this total lack of judiciousness that rankles.

Put differently, and in terms of providing a complex and nuanced picture of the reality on the ground in Iraq, is Fisk any better than the boorish arm-chair chest-beaters occasionally trawling about Fox green rooms and telling us how swimmingly it all goes?

UPDATE: Glenn has more on matters Fisk.

Posted by Gregory at December 18, 2003 05:02 PM

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