Stephen Walt and the Internet Fringe

by Michael Rubin

Stephen Walt is an embarrassment to Harvard University. The issue is not what he says — free speech is paramount — but rather intellectual sloppiness. In Foreign Policy, he argues that “neocons” turned on Turkey in 2008 because of Israel. But trolling the Internet for like-minded pieces is not fact-checking.

Walt’s premise is that neoconservatives started criticizing Turkey in 2008 because they were upset by Turkey’s bashing of Israel. Let’s put aside the silly assumption that neoconservatives all know each other and talk to each other. Instead, Mr. Walt, here’s a couple pieces from 2005 raising alarm bells for very different reasons. Care to revisit your assumptions?

Even wackier is former DIA official Pat Lang, who writes:

It is pretty obvious that a talking points memo went out from the Israeli embassy or some other locale, because in a matter of days, many of the usual suspects—Daniel Pipes, Stephen Schwartz, Michael Rubin, and Victor Davis Hanson, not to mention the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)—all came out with the identical, preposterous notion that Turkey is the perp and Israel the victim.  

Maybe this is projection, maybe not; I’ve never met Mr. Lang and only know him through the eye-rolls of other DIA officials. Again, let’s put aside his conspiratorial nonsense which assumes that anyone, absent evidence, who disagrees with Mr. Lang has dual loyalty. More ironic is that Mr. Lang left the intelligence community to become a registered foreign agent for a Lebanese politician best known for his pro-Syrian bent. What a buffoon.

As to both Mr. Walt and Mr. Lang: They may wish to explain why they believe a country with increasingly close relations to Iran, Syria, and Sudan should possess the Joint Strike Fighter, which is slated to be delivered. Do they believe we should be passing out our most sophisticated technology to a country that has warmer ties with state sponsors of terror than with the United States? Do they want to risk the impact of that on American lives? What verifications are they going to put in place? They may also want to explain why they think Prime Minister Erdogan’s endorsement of an al-Qaeda financier make him a trustworthy U.S. ally.