The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Michael Young Fact Checker

Mike Young is a good writer, good polemicist, good turner-of-phrases…. I disagree with his approach to a whole range of subjects of course. But the real, more serious problem – and why some academics avoid his columns – is the veracity of his statements recounting what happened (his interpretation is another matter).

Young particularly loves Kucinich being dragged into the Libya two-timing issue because it helps his thesis that the left is naive and weak and loves enemies of the US because leftists hate america and love islamists who hate them etc etc etc. He thinks the AJI report is pretty ok on the congressman…. I think it makes a lot less sense and less impact than the Welch case which seems far stronger.

But look at how he treats good friend of his best admirer Eliot Abrams – Welch, one of the great architects of Young’s CedarLeaks revolution 2005-2008:

“…Their answer would probably be that everybody in the West at one time or another was hungry for a piece of Libyan largesse, political and financial, including senior officials in the United States and Europe. That Welch and Kucinich, relatively small fry in the decades-long minuet with Libya, may have done so after the start of the revolt in Libya…”

— Not so fast. WELCH WAS ONE OF THE KEY BUSH GUYS on the whole libya file and bringing the regime back into the cold:  in fact…On August 14, 2008 in Tripoli, Welch signed the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement paving the way for the restoration of full diplomatic and commercial relations between the two countries after a 25-year break.

— So young is factually incorrect when he minimizes welch’s role during the Bush admin days which Young favors in his book (although they – the bushies – should have gone harder, faster, stronger of course).

The best part of a Young column – beyond the illiberal use of maximalist words like NEVER, NO WAY and ONLY – is when he brings in Bashar Assad. You always know it is coming somewhere in the column (for me, the neo-liberalcons are ALWAYS lurking) even if it just does not make sense:

“…Not so long ago, Qaddafi was loudly feted in Western capitals. American government officials pursued him with almost as much assiduity as their European counterparts. Libyan money and oil contracts were heady incentives, but also the perception that the Qaddafi regime was a valuable ally in the battle against Al-Qaeda. The sense of urgency in the United Kingdom a few years ago to resolve the case of Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi, the accused Lockerbie bomber, was one example of a sympathetic disposition. Qaddafi and his mad brood were just as generously pampered and humored in Paris and Rome.

“Strangely, less affluent Arab autocrats also had oversized leverage in Western capitals. Do we really need to mention the warm receptions reserved for Bashar al-Assad on his visits to France or Spain, for instance, even though the Syrian president’s security services continued to engage in massive repression at home, and Damascus was then inciting violence in neighboring Iraq and Lebanon. Syria’s export of instability seemed to work especially well when Barack Obama advocated a dialogue with Assad upon taking office, hoping this would ease the way toward a negotiated settlement with Israel. ”

— Sadly for Young, Syria’s export of instability actualliy worked best DURING THE WANING DAYS OF THE BUSH YEARS! Although Young’s main nemisis, along with Lee Smith, is obama (Smith actually believes the Cairo speech was THE WATERSHED when we can pinpoint the decline of US power in the region) the examples of iraq and lebanon given by young were heady days for Assad’s power flexing during the 2006-2008 period (and in iraq before that).

— But the funniest/scariest part is how he tries to blur Gadhafi’s growing hold on US/EU capitals with…. Assad! his examples – a few (and only a few) “receptions.” NOT huge contracts, etc etc as in the libya case…. but because he is still upset that the Cedar Revolution was not accelerated but instead imploded leading to some VERY limited attempts at inviting assad to dinner. Young is trying to pull a fast one here, but his cites, his evidence just doesn’t add up.


Written by nickbiddlenoe

September 5, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: