Michael O’Hanlon: Please, No More
Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 1:01 pm
<p><a id="gc14" href="http://www.brookings.edu/experts/o/ohanlonm.aspx" title="Michael O’Hanlon">Michael O’Hanlon</a> is a Brookings Institution defense expert who doesn’t actually know anything about defense. He does, however, know how to be a reliable barometer of what very-slightly-left-of-center establishment types believe <i>should</i> be said about defense. If anyone in the foreign-policy community respects O’Hanlon, I haven’t met him or her. I remember being at a barbecue in 2005 and remarking that O’Hanlon has never had an interesting thought in his life when an aide to John Bolton stood up, pumped the air with both fists, and bellowed, "<i>Preach</i> it, brother!" Well, that’s not entirely fair: everyone’s throat-clearing caveat about O’Hanlon is that he compiles the useful <a id="rkxx" href="http://www.brookings.edu/saban/iraq-index.aspx" title="Brookings Iraq Index">Brookings Iraq Index</a>, a compendium of Iraq-relevant statistics. So as a foreign-policy mandarin, he makes a good intern. <br /><br />
Anyway, a couple months back, O’Hanlon went to Iraq, saw that the surge is teh awesomez0rs, and <a id="v_4t" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/opinion/30pollack.html" title="wrote an op-ed">wrote an op-ed</a> suggesting that he was anti-war until he saw the fruits of a successful strategy. Only O’Hanlon wasn’t ever anti-war, and he was taken on a Potemkin tour of Iraq. <a id="r2f5" href="http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/07/30/brookings/index.html" title="The bloggers started ripping him to shreds">The bloggers started ripping him to shreds</a>, resulting in an embattled O’Hanlon drifting further rightward and becoming more bilious. Call it Joe Lieberman Syndrome. In a different context, he’d be <a id="oke4" href="http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/features/n_9562/" title="Ja Rule in the middle of the 50 Cent beef">Ja Rule in the middle of the 50 Cent beef</a> that ended his career. Today in the <i>Wall Street Journal</i>, O’Hanlon’s got <a id="yit4" href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120295423439867155.html?mod=todays_us_opinion" title="yet another tendentious op-ed">yet another tendentious op-ed</a>, in which he bravely subdues yet another straw man on the left. As you read it, you can practically hear, <a id="yj84" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-isJ0BHl1To" title="" we="" gon="" clap="" back…="">"We gon’ clap back… We gon’ clap back…"</a> <br /><br />
Harder to understand is how the foreign-policy establishment doesn’t put him out to pasture. Like the Bolton aide at the barbecue, few are willing to say publicly that O’Hanlon doesn’t know what he’s talking about, no matter how widespread that opinion actually is behind closed doors and over beers. Case in point: a friend passes along this piece of O’Hanlon-related intelligence:</p>
<blockquote>I have a friend who worked on the <a id="mn2." href="http://www.usip.org/isg/" title="Iraq Study Group">Iraq Study Group</a>, who told me they brought [O'Hanlon] in, along with the other 20 or 30 other experts on the various working groups. They found his recommendations to be both vacuous and moronic. The man is an empty shell.<br />
<p>Please, O’Hanlon, let it go, homie. Call it a day. You’re a young man and it’s a great big wonderful world out there, full of possibilities.</p>
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