Community Standards

Atrios, or as we call him in real life, "Duncan," has been wandering around wondering why there's such a thing as a foreign policy community. It's a good question. The consequences of its existence don't seem to be particularly beneficial. Steve Clemons is talking at a panel on foreign policy, blogging, and activism and gives voice to something that I think a lot of us tend to suspect, saying he was one of the few members of said community to go on television and speak against the Iraq War not because he was the only one to think it was a bad idea, but "because everyone else was a coward."

"People like me," he says, "were being fed quite a bit of inside information from people who were every bit as horrified" but very few people said anything. And it's true -- alongside the famously pro-war elements of the establishment, there's a shockingly large number of people at places like Brookings, CSIS, the CFR, etc. where if you try to look up what they said about Iraq it turns out that they said . . . nothing at all.

His perspective, he says, is that Washington is "a corrupt town." From that perspective, he says that "the political-intellectual arenas is essentially a cartel" -- a cartel that's become extremely timid and risk-averse in the face of a neoconservative onslaught -- and "blogs allow smart people to break the cartel." That all seems very true to me, and I'm not sure what I have to add.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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