Pick One

by Joshua Foust on 7/27/2011 · 6 comments

Over at The Weekly Standard, Daniel Halper writes:

But this allegation, coming as it did from a U.S. ally, was immediately dismissed by those on the far right and far left in Washington (who oddly share a mutual affinity for Vladimir Putin’s thugocracy, or maybe just an affinity for the Obama administration’s great power politics which subordinates human rights and democracy to the national interest). Joshua Foust, writing at the Atlantic, accused the Georgian government of “intentionally misleading journalists,” because why would those nice Russians bomb a U.S. embassy? Daniel Larison, writing at the American Conservative, said that Lake just reports “whatever the Georgian government tells him,” and that his “story reads like one designed to stoke anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S.”

Since I am clearly part of the far right or far left (Halper doesn’t actually say which one I am), and am clearly in love with Putin’s thugocracy, and was skeptical of Eli’s reporting because I think Russia is nice and never does bad things ever to anyone else, I think this is an accurate summary of why I was skeptical of that original report. Read my post and see how accurate this is.

Now the bit about Eli’s followup piece about anonymous U.S. intelligence sources “confirming” that Russia “bombed the U.S. embassy” raises similar issues. As I said in the post under scrutiny, it could very well be a coordinated GRU plot to set off explosives across Georgia, one of which happened uncomfortable close to the embassy. Being skeptical of a Georgian official is not the same as being in love with Vladimir Putin, especially given the political battle in DC between Georgian and Russian interests. But unless major details about the bomb blast have changed, the embassy itself wasn’t bombed, but “a cemetery about 100 meters from the embassy” is what got damaged. That still isn’t good, and if a Russian is indeed responsible that’s pretty damned stupid of them.

But turning that into “RUSSIA BOMBS AMERICAN EMBASSY” is just irresponsible. As is treating this accusation like it’s brand new and never before seen, when Georgia has been pushing it since December. Or even pretending the CIA infallible and never wrong about anything, ever. Then, to take this eight-month old story and turn it into “OBAMA IS IGNORING ATTACKS ON AMERICAN SOIL” and “THE RESET IS A LIE,” which Halper asserts in his blog post, is just silly.

But don’t take my word for it, and most certainly don’t interpret my skepticism as possibly being unsure of what really happened but rather as being born of my love of terrorism and my hatred of freedom and embassies. According to Halper, I’ve lost interest in the issue. So I guess I should never mention this again.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1849 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 6 comments }

papicek July 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

As a lefty, I’m supposed to be enamored of the Medvedev/Putin tag team? News to me. I know a lot of lefties, but I haven’t come across anyone who stands in Putin’s corner.

DPTrombly July 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I enjoy how Halper thinks it’s odd that two sides of the spectrum could both share an interest in pursuing “the national interest.” Something about partisan foreign policy interests? Woah!

DPTrombly July 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm

*sorry, that should say “above,” not “about”

dc July 27, 2011 at 10:50 pm

First of all, the bomb did not damage a cemetery wall, it damaged the US embassy wall. The Voice of America BLOG, not VoA itself, which states that is the only report, besides the Russian sources, that mention cemetery.

In any case, your suggestion that US embassy happened to be by chance in the way of one of GRU’s attacks is completely false. Have you seen where the US embassy is in Tbilisi? It is in the middle of NOWHERE, surrounded by fields. Its not as if it was downtown and what happened to it was just collateral damage from some unrelated attack. The building is literally surrounded by a vast, open area and even if there is a cemetery nearby, you tell me why would the GRU bomb a cemetery on the outskirts of Tbilisi of all cemeteries that they could bomb for whatever reason.

Dafydd July 28, 2011 at 7:11 am

Enough of this nonsense, time for you to fess up.

Are you extreme left or extreme right?

And don’t come back with any of that ambidextrous nonsense.

Commission Domination July 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I noticed this with some comments here all chat no baxxs. And just to sit on the fence in case you are wrong is just wet. Get a solid belief and express it. Democracy in action…

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