Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 14-Jan-07
Guess what? British politicians and journalists are just as ignorant as Americans

Web Log - January, 2007

Guess what? British politicians and journalists are just as ignorant as Americans

Gloating by Brits about dumb Americans turns out to be inappropriate.

A survey by the London Times newspaper, in which they informally quizzed 30 politicians and "Middle East" experts in the British government, showed that they were abysmally ignorant of even the simplest facts regarding the Middle East.

Typical questions were, "What's the difference between Sunnis and Shiites?" and "Is al-Qaeda Sunni or Shiite?" and "Is Hizbollah Sunni or Shiite?" In almost cases, the politicans and experts guessed, or had no idea.

The article is a response to gloating by some UK journalists to a similar survey conducted in America. In article last week by BBC journalist Brian Walden, published before the Times article, Walden claims, "I mention this disturbing religious and political illiteracy not because I want to make the point: 'Look at the stupid Americans. Aren't we lucky to be British and cleverer than they are?'" But he then goes on to claim, in effect, "Look at the stupid Americans. Aren't we lucky that I'm British and cleverer than anyone."

<i>Daily Mirror</i> front page, November 4, 2004
Daily Mirror front page, November 4, 2004

Actually, we all know what the British think of Americans. After the 2004 election, the London Daily Mirror tabloid's front page headline was: "How can 59,017,382 people be so DUMB?"

And the BBC is so anti-American that in January, 2004, the BBC was reprimanded after a long investigation resulting in the Hutton Report. The investigation found that the BBC had purposely lied in news stories in order to make Tony Blair's administration look bad in pursuing the Iraq War.

So it's not surprising when BBC reporter Brian Walden says, "I happen to believe that the war in Iraq was a blunder of the first magnitude," but he provides no evidence whatsoever of this, except to quote polls.

In fact, Walden simply shows his own ignorance:

The reason that Walden doesn't address these points is that he's as ignorant of history as he claims that Americans are: He obviously knows nothing about the Truman Doctrine and its importance to American policy; and he obviously knows nothing about the Iran/Iraq war, and its effect on the regional politics today. (See discussion of the Truman Doctrine and the Iran/Iraq war in the weblog entry on Chris Matthews.)

Walden quotes for support an American analyst who says that the Bush Administration "naively assumes that US military power can still be used to create a stable and unified democracy." This is another unsupported statement, especially since American power did exactly that in countries like Kuwait, Germany, Italy and Japan. Of course, British military power helped out, but the fact that Walden doesn't remember even that makes him look even more stupid.

He says, "We're at a new year, and I see no sign that official circles in Washington and London have learnt the lessons that will prevent us making a similar mistake again." What mistake is he referring to? Is he referring to the mistakes that people like him made in underestimating Hitler, and ended up being called appeasers?

See, look: This BBC reporter Walden is an ideologue. He knows little about history, and the history he does know or apply is selective. What makes him a fool is that he thinks he actually knows more than other people.

His gloating came about, as we said, because of a similar survey of American politicians and analysts. That survey was conducted by Jeff Stein, national security editor for Congressional Quarterly. He wrote an article for the New York Times in October 2006, and a December article in Congressional Quarterly.

Stein was interviewing Silvestre Reyes, whom Nancy Pelosi had selected to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. At the end of the interview he asked Reyes whether al-Qaeda was a Sunni or Shiite organization. He said, "Predominantly probably Shiite."

Completely wrong. Al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization. So get this: A 5-term congressman, who's been on the House Intelligence Committee for five years, and is now about to become its chairman, couldn't answer a simple question about the Mideast.

This reminded me of an incident involving Nancy Pelosi just after the election. A reporter asked to respond to something or other that President Bush had said about al-Qaeda in Iraq. She said something about Bush lying again because the 9/11 Commission had found that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq. Of course there is, at this time al-Qaeda in Iraq, but everyone assumed, including me, that she had simply misunderstood the question. I now realize that she knows nothing at all about al-Qaeda.

This isn't restricted to Democrats. Jeff Stein found that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress were abysmally ignorant about the Mideast. He even found that some CIA agents who specialized in Mideast affairs were extremely ignorant.

What all of these newspaper articles fail to mention is that journalists are just as ignorant. I've pointed this out numerous times on this web site.

ABC's George Stephanopoulos looked like an idiot in November because Jordan's King Abdullah had to tell him five times of the importance of the Israeli/Palestine situation, but he was still clueless. NBC's Chris Matthews exhibited vitriolic partisanship and sheer stupidity after President Bush's speech, making it clear that he knows nothing about such things as the Iran/Iraq war or the Truman Doctrine. CNN's Michael Ware, talking about the Iraq war, said "If this isn't a civil war, then I'd hate to see a real civil war," apparently completely unaware that there is a real civil war going on Darfur, and that the Iraq war is nothing like that. And there's Brian Walden, the BBC reporter I discussed earlier in this article.

The worst example is Bob Woodward who, I suspect, knows so little that he'd have difficulty picking out Iraq on a map, but still wrote a whole book, State of Denial, in which he claimed he knows more than everyone.

You know, dear reader, you may find this hard to believe, but more than one person has actually criticized me for referring to these people as morons. But really, what am I supposed to say about people who know so little, then go on television to shout their ignorance to anyone will listen, and then claim that they're the only ones who know what's really going on?

I could repeat Abraham Lincoln's quote: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." Lincoln was probably talking about journalists, because these people are the dumbest and loudest of all.

Remember that one of the questions asked was: "Is al-Qaeda a Sunni or Shiite organization?" This is one of these questions that the politicians couldn't answer, and I'm sure the journalists are the same.

But if you don't understand that, then you can't possible have any idea what's going on in Iraq. These "experts" always talk about a civil war with Sunnis and Shiites shooting at each other, but have no idea what that means. (I remember Stephanopoulis saying that to King Abdullah; what an idiot.)

I've been trying to answer the question myself: If the Iraq war isn't a civil war, then what is it? I've been studying dozens of historical accounts and on the scene reports, things that most journalists are clueless about. And what's increasingly clear is that the war in Iraq is a proxy war between al-Qaeda and Iran. I'm writing an analysis on this subject, and I hope to post it within the next few days.

You know, dear reader, before 9/11 I didn't know much about the Mideast either. But in order to develop Generational Dynamics, and in order to write a book, and in order to do this web site, I've had to read and absorb literally hundreds of history books. I've written about the Mideast hundreds of times, and each time I've had to learn something new.

I've had to do this because, if for no other reason, if I make a mistake in history on this web site, then I look like an idiot, and someone always writes to me and tells me so.

So of course I know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites -- I made a point of learning it and writing about it in my first book. I studied the Quran, the life of Mohammed, the Muslim conquests, the Ottoman Empire, and so forth. How many journalists today have the vaguest idea, for example, that the construction of Mosques in Spain today is raising fears related to the Muslim occupation of Spain prior to 1492 - the same year the Columbus sailed the ocean blue? That's just one example of a thousand things you have to know to understand what's going on today.

In fact, I've written about dozens of countries on this web site, and each time I write about a new country, I have to go and study the history of that country, in order to understand how it got to where it is today. Because you can't understand today's world until you understand yesterday's world. And journalists are even more abysmally ignorant about yesterday's world than they are about today's world.

When I began this project, shortly after 9/11, it was simply to try to figure out what's going on in the world. I've had many shocks and surprises in the 5+ years since then, but probably no more shocking than the realization that I now know more about the history and current events about the world than do 99.9% of the politicians, analysts, journalists, pundits and others in Washington. This is a reflection on how much work I've done, but it's even more a reflection of the sheer arrogance and stupidity that pervades Washington.

It's also worth pointing out that these politicians, journalists and others always get things wrong. They make predictions that are no more than sheer guesswork, and their predictions produce no better results than flipping a coin. They get one prediction after another wrong, but that doesn't stop them from making more wrong predictions, and then asserting that they actually know more about what's going to happen than anyone else does. They know nothing, as their record shows.

Speaking of predictions, this web site has correctly predicted what would happen in Iraq in August, 2003, what would happen in the Mideast in May, 2003, what would happen in Darfur in June, 2004, and what would happen to the "anti-war movement" in February, 2003. There have been no Generational Dynamics predictions that have turned out to be wrong. I've repeatedly challenged anyone to find any web site anywhere in the world with a predictive success record anywhere close to this web site's record. There is none. If you want to know what's going on in the world, this is the one and only web site that will tell you.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the arrogance of and stupidity of the people running Washington today is to be expected, because they're all in the Baby Boomer generation.

The the London Times article that I referenced above quotes Ali Ansari, director of the British Institute of Persian Studies at St Andrews University as saying this:

"When you are making decisions about life and death, war and peace, it behoves our representatives to brush up a bit on aspects on the Middle East.

When it comes to the opposition parties, I really would expect them to have more of a handle of the issues.

Anthony Eden, for all his woes, did have a first in oriental studies from Oxford. He spoke Persian and Arabic fluently. I have to say I think our politicians from 50 years ago were probably a more worldly aware bunch than now."

The speaker refers to Anthony Eden, who became British Prime Minister in 1955. Of course all the people who had lived through World War II and survived it knew what was going on in the world.

It's amazing what the survivors of World War II did. They carefully set up worldwide organizations -- the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, etc. -- whose purpose was, most of all, to prevent another world war. They accomplished huge things. They set up country boundaries, set up world monetary policies, as well as trade and commerce policies. They made sure everyone would be fed. They attacked all of the miseries of the World Wars -- poverty, famine, disease and war -- so that nothing like World War II would ever happen to their children or grandchildren.

But the generations of people who set up those organizations and did those great things are gone now, and the people left behind don't have the skills to make them work effectively.

The Baby Boomers certainly don't have those skills. Boomers have no skills except to argue. They've spent their whole lives expecting the older generations -- the WW II survivors -- to take care of them. But there's no one else left. And the Generation Xers are even worse -- they're just furious at the Boomers.

So that's where we stand today.

I have no idea whether the "surge" of new troops into Iraq is going to work or not, but here's what I do know:

As we approach the "clash of civilizations" world war, we'll soon reach the point anywhere where we won't have any choice but to let the President govern, since anything resembling the current paralysis of government would be a disaster. (14-Jan-07) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.