Politico ran a long piece by Ben Smith today entitled “Israel Rift Roils Democratic Ranks” which, among other things, highlighted the work of Eli and Ali at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and made several assertions about my political views. The original article stated:
Clifton and his colleague Ali Gharib came to CAP from Inter Press Service; their work is still published, by agreement with the Center for American Progress, on the blog of the Inter Press Service’s Jim Lobe, a stalwart of a range of foreign policy views well to the left of the Democratic Party. He was a fierce foe, for instance, of Bill Clinton’s Bosnian interventions, complaining bitterly in 2006 that “AbrahamLincoln was canonized for invading the South to prevent its secession, but [Serb leader and convicted war criminal Slobodan] Milosevic was damned for trying to protect Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity.”
Unable to recall ever writing or saying anything like that, I immediately tried to discover where Smith had found the quotation attributed to me. I googled it and found an op-ed attributed to me published by antiwar.com, so I called Eric Garris, antiwar’s director, to get an explanation. After some research of his own, he informed me that there had apparently been a mis-indexing of the column and that the actual author was Paul Craig Roberts (who served in the Reagan administration and whose views are not “well to the left of the Democratic Party”). He immediately informed Ben Smith of mistake and posted a “public correction/apology” on the antiwar site which you can find here.
To his credit, Smith agreed to drop the quote and the allegation that I was a “fierce foe” of Clinton’s Balkan interventions from the story and issued a Correction at the bottom of the article which reads:
An earlier version of this article attributed to Jim Lobe a quote from an article that appeared under his byline on the website Antiwar.com. Lobe and the site’s editor, Eric Garris, said the article was incorrectly attributed to him, and was in fact written by someone else.
I had asked him to identify Roberts as the “someone else,” but he wrote in an email message that he believed that was more antiwar’s problem than his.
I then turned to his assertion that my foreign policy views were “well to the left of the Democratic Party,” noting that the phrase suggested that my views were not consistent with those held by many Democrats — as if I were a Communist or something like that. Again to his credit, Smith said he was willing to change the phrase. The whole paragraph now reads:
Clifton and his colleague Ali Gharib came to CAP from Inter Press Service; their work is still published, by agreement with the Center for American Progress, on the blog of the Inter Press Service’s Jim Lobe, a stalwart of a range of foreign policy views on the left of the Democratic foreign policy spectrum.
That’s a definite improvement, although some of my foreign-policy views are probably well to the right of, say, Dennis Kucinich, who presumably represents the party’s foreign-policy left. I, for example, personally thought the first Gulf War was justified under international law.
But Eli, Ali, and CAP (as well as the estimable and fearless M.J. Rosenberg at Media Matters) are the main targets of Smith’s article to which CAP has issued its own strong rebuttal. And, as Smith himself acknowledges in the nut graph, their work has “shaken up the Washington foreign policy conversation and broadened the space for discussing a heretical and often critical stance on Israel heretofore confined to the political margins.” If so, that is quite an achievement, and the fact that AIPAC has taken such pains, as described in the article, to undermine them suggests that they are indeed making important progress.