Jim Fallows is a Very Polite Man

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Really, he is. I wish everyone in journalism would be as polite as Jim. He seems to be having a disagreement with our mutual friend and colleague Bob Kaplan about China's future, but it's initially hard to tell because he's so careful to be respectful. He first writes movingly about the Atlantic community, and its spirit of respectful disagreement (we'll see how that goes, now that the Atlantic on-line seems to be adding fifteen or twenty new "correspondents" a week, some of whom might even be experienced practitioners of journalism!). Then he carefully lays out his disagreement with Bob. You should read it for yourself; I have no idea who is right, though I would say that this Fallows line strikes me as pertinent and true (and certainly true in my own area of interest):

Arguing for uncertainty, or for many possible futures that will in fact be shaped by real choices by real human beings, may seem weak and unsatisfying. On the other hand: it conforms to the facts...."

This is something I learned the hard way in Iraq; it's also the reason I'm open to the idea that Iraq might conceivably have a brighter future than it once did. This is also something I've learned about the Israeli-Arab conflict. As I told Michael Totten in our recent conversation (yes, I know I'm quoting myself -- sorry, I live in Washington, it's one of the local diseases), but anyone who acts like they've figured out the entire Middle East doesn't know anything.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2009/07/jim-fallows-is-a-very-polite-man/21432/