Barry Rubin has published a minor masterpiece of sarcasm today at Front Page Magazine, entitled, "Become an Instant Middle East Expert!" He eviscerates the agenda-driven folk who, lacking other opportunities, jumped on the opportunity to refashion themselves into "experts." A couple of examples:
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Sure they were tenured professors but they hadn't produced anything of note in years. Then they had an idea: write a paper attacking the power of the Jewish lobby. Years of study? Intensive research? Nah. A few hours by a grad student on the internet. Result: Fame, a huge book contract, invitations to speak, largely respectful media coverage! Within months. [....]
Or how about Mary Habeck? A military historian, lost her job at Yale. Hey, why is everyone else having all the fun! I'll be an expert on the Middle East and on Islam too! So she loaded up the truck and took a brief trip to Iraq. Next thing you know she's got a book, testifies to Congress, is briefing Hilary Clinton, and being consulted by the great and powerful. Does she know anything about Islam? She thinks that jihad is an inner struggle, not having much to do with smiting infidels and conquering lands. But what's the difference? If you don't want to do so you don't have to see the dead bodies produced by your advice.
Hat tip: Andrew Bostom and Richard Baehr
Speaking of thinly-qualified "experts", the now legendary Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group was composed of "experts' who were similarly lacking in qualifications. An anthropology professor, people who work for companies with major Arab shareholders (Citibank) or have major business dealings with Arab nations; representatives from think-tanks that are financed by Arab nations or companies dependent on Arab nations, journalists from publications that have run anti-Israel articles.