An open response to Peter Schweizer

 My dear Mr. Schweizer,

Thanks for your response to my note.  You write:

Of course it’s legitimate to ask questions about supporting evidence for stories we post on Big Peace.  But to call Big Peace ”unadulterated horses***t”?   Is that your habit when you believe an opponent lacks evidence?  Why not simply ask some questions?.... 

I do find it curious that you argue since Soros is “at best ambivalent and at worst disappointed” with Obama that means he doesn’t have much influence.   Surely you are politically sophisticated enough to know that there is a difference between the two.  You may be too young to recall (I’m not saying this as a slight) but conservatives were disappointed with Reagan early on in his first term because they felt he didn’t go far enough.  Does that mean conservatives lacked influence on Reagan?   Ditto for the administration of George W. Bush.    Read Kissinger’s memoirs and you will find plenty of examples of his disappointment with Richard Nixon.

You might not be persuaded–that’s fine.  But why condemn an entire website?....

I can’t help but peek at your letter to Mr. Moriarty and note your suggestion that you would welcome a whole new set of critical readers to your blog.  Do you actually mean it?  Or is this wordplay?

To answer your queries: 

1) To be honest, if someone writes a post long on accusations and conspiracies but short on supporting evidence, yeah, I'm pretty much gonna call it unadulterated horses**t.  In neither Moriarty's initial post, nor in his follow-up letter does he provide a scintilla of evidence to back up his factual claims.  If you go by Harry Frankfurt's definition of bulls**t, Moriarty's post appears to fit the bill.  According to Frankfurt, if someone simply doesn't care whether what they are saying is true or false, then they're generating bulls**t.  Based on Moriarty's output to date, it qualifies as bulls**t.  I could debate the fine distinctions between horses**t and bulls**t fr hours, but for these purposes, the two terms are one and the same. 

2)  Am I condemning the entire Big Peace website?  No. if you re-read my original post, I said the entire site would deserve this appellation if Moriarty's writings were characteristic of the rest of Big Peace's output.  Consider this a warning shot across the bow - if your job is to edit Big Peace's output, then I think you erred in not using a firmer editorial hand towards Mr. Moriarty.  

3)  With regard to influence, perhaps we have a problem with terminology.  I think you're confusing "influence" with the Svengali-like properties that Moriarty seems to ascribe to Soros.  He repeatedly used the Kissinger/Nixon parallel, and that simply doesn't hold up.  Kissinger had daily access to Nixon - I hope you'll agree that Soros has had nowhere near that much communication with Obama.  Has Soros influenced Obama?  Probably, but one could argue that conservatives have influenced policy outcomes more.  Without implacable  GOP opposition, for example, I'm quite confident that the February 2009 stimulus package would have topped $1 trillion.  The difference is that Moriarty characterized Soros as Obama's political sherpa - and, again, to repeat, there is zero evidence that this is the case. 

4)  On whether I "would welcome a whole new set of critical readers" -- please, scan through my comments on a garden-variety post.  I have plenty of readers who disagree with me -- in fact, I take great pride in having the most contrarian group of readers in the foreign policy blogosphere.  So yes, criticism is always welcomed. 

I'll be sure to check Big Peace on the site from time to time to see if something link-worthy comes up.  Until then, welcome to the foreign policy blogosphere:


Daniel W. Drezner 

Daniel W. Drezner

Your Top Secret Post of the day!! Very exciting (yawn) stuff

Question:  what do Top Secret America and Wikileaks have in common? 

Answer:  they both pretty much put me to sleep. 

Call me shallow, call me jaded, call me cynical, but there's not that much there there in either effort.  Day 1 of the Top Secret story was the most informative of the bunch, no doubt -- but even that story was frustratingly short on detail.  Day 2 and Day 3 were worse, in that they didn't tell me anything I already know.  Day 2 of Top Secret America told me that  outsourcing to private contractors is bad, bad, bad, and very expensive.  Day 3 was kind of like your local news teasers: "Are NSA employees living RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO YOU?!"  If you live in the vicinity of BWI, it turns out the answer is, "yes, but it's not a big deal." Again... yawn. 

If Top Secret America actually prompts hearings/reform efforts, then yay, dead tree journalism.  Otherwise, the reveal was far less than the hype. 

As for Wikileaks, Blake Hounshell and Andrew Exum sum up my feelings on the matter.  So it turns out that the war in Afghanistan is not going well and Pakistan is playing a double game?  Well, knock me down with a feather!! 

In essence, neither story provides much in the way of new information -- they merely serve as news pegs through which intractable policy issues can be debated anew.  If those debates prove fruitful, that's great -- but during a summer in which I've seen the Stupidest Topics Ever become cable show fodder, I ain't getting my hopes up. 

This might be my own subfield prejudice at work.  Every once in a while someone from security studies tells me that international political economy is really, really boring and that they can't understand how I could find it interesting.  I think today is one of those days in which I would tell them the same thing. 

Am I missing anything?  Seriously, anything?