"Congratulations to the Aardvark"
Foreign Policy magazine is going to be bolstering its web presence with a new group blog that apparently will feature Daniel Drezner and Marc Lynch along with other similar sorts whose identities I don’t yet know. This seems like a great project. I’m especially excited about Lynch. Drezner is a sharp thinker and a good blogger, but I think the kind of point-of-view he has is already pretty well-reflected in the US media.
Lynch, on the other hand, like Juan Cole comes out of the weirdly neglected corner of academia that specializes in knowing things about the Middle East. You would have thought that 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would bring a lot more prominence to people working in this field. But instead, the mainstream views represented in this field weren’t — and aren’t — what the political powers that be wanted to hear so somehow the conclusion came about that Bernard Lewis was the only Middle East expert worth listening to about anything. After all, he was willing to tell people what they wanted to hear!
One of the things the blogosphere has done, however, has been to open up some space in which a more diverse set of voices can be heard. I’ve been a reader of Lynch’s blog for years, going back to before he had tenure and it was a pseudonymous site. Back then, the about page asserted that the unnamed author was an expert on Arab media and political reform, and at one point I realized that I wanted to quote something this fellow had said for a print article. But whereas on the blog it was fine to attribute something to Abu Aardvark, that wasn’t going to fly in print so I had to uncover the writer’s secret identity and I was certainly glad when it turned out to be a real expert. Meanwhile, besides Middle East issues Lynch also has considerable expertise in the field of comic books which I hope FP will consider an important area.