Hugh Hewitt in his Daily Standard column asks “who is William Arkin.” Arkin is the guy who started the assault on General Boykin by providing NBC with tapes of Boykin speaking in church and then writing an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times claiming that the general believes in Christian “jihad,” a term, Arkin later admitted, Boykin never used. But what is Arkin’s background. I remember him as one of the war-time talking heads, a “military analyst” for MSNBC. Earlier this year, he was providing commentary on the war, along with former high ranking military officers, veteran war correspondents, and the rest of the menagerie. His commentary about the war was consistently wide of the mark, to the point that I started automatically switching channels whenever he appeared. But I continued foolishly to assume that he had the credentials to comment on military issues on national television.
Hewitt demonstrates, however, that Arkin is essentially a fraud. His military experience consists of a four-year stint (1974-1978). Since then, he has worked for the leftist Institute for Policy Studies, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Human Rights Watch. Now he is a senior fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins and an “adjunct professor at the U.S. Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies.” How any of this qualified Arkin to comment on the land war in Iraq for MSNBC is unclear.
Hewitt posts a speech that Arkin gave at the U.S. Naval War College about a year ago. It is a classic piece of mindless anti-Bush carping. For all of his attacks on President Bush, for things like “failing to predict the events of Sept. 11” and not finding bin Laden, Arkin did not really go on the record as opposing the war, or predicting that we wouldln’t find WMD. Here is what he said:
“Again, let me make my position clear: I believe that Iraq is a danger to its people, to the region, and to the United States. There is probably even tippy-top secret intelligence to connect Iraq to al-Qaida, maybe not specifically with regard to Sept. 11, but certainly over the years. No doubt there are al-Qaida operatives in Iraq today. On the one hand, it would be such a home run to just lay out the case: so why not reveal it? The answer I think is not that the Bush administration fears heading down a slippery slope of answering too many questions or feels like it needs to protect intelligence sources and methods; it is more again the mindset of the administration that it just doesn’t have to, and won’t, justify its actions.”
This is clearly a man with very little to say. He couldn’t provide MSNBC with real military expertise and he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, offer a genuinely leftist perspective, the way people like Katerina vanden Heuvel do. His real area of expertise seems to be gossip, and his contribution to the national debate, apparently, will consist of leading the charge against expressions of personal faith by public officials.
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