Monday, January 12, 2009

Being Outwitted by Think Tanks?

In a round table discussion, "Challenges for the Incoming Obama Administration" on C-Span, I listened to Richard Perle, a political advisor and lobbyist who worked for the Reagan administration as an assistant Secretary of Defense, make some pretty good points until a young man asked a question about diplomacy matters. Perle was dismissive, dogmatic, and curt in his response. Personally, I thought the young man had asked a rather astute question about acknowledging Iran and North Korea, even though we may not agree with their leaders and policies. They are nonetheless a part of the world community, even if we do not recognize them.

Mr. Perle, without acknowledging the legitimacy of the young man's question, dismissed it as ridiculous and spouted a series of negative adjectives including the "e" word that have been used for those, who may not be saints, but are world leaders themselves. (I was incredibly heartened by Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic's goodwill trip to North Korea. In fact, I loved it!) There have been more than a few who have called our current president "evil" with regards to policies in Iraq. Does it make it so? Are there legitimate reasons for such words?

I am unequivocally in support of Israel's right to exist. But what concerns me is our rhetoric and policies may be such that create more enemies for Israel and America than our support for her will legitimize worldwide. How we say what we say still matters. Diplomacy is still needed and policies forever reviewed. The talking heads of think tanks (and institutes), who exercise a lot of control in Washington, are forever telling us what we think. But do we really think as they purport about a great many issues, Israel aside momentarily?

What is desired is an honest conversation uncontrolled by think tanks. Really, how much thinking is really going on and how much dogma is being exerted?

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