This is just to assure readers of the site that I am still alive (having been first on a family vacation and then down with the flu), although I learned this week that I am once again persona non grata at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The first time I was declared unwelcome there resulted from my appearance on BBC’s weekly public-affairs “Panorama” television program, “The War Party,” that aired in May 2003 and covered the neo-conservatives’ role in promoting the invasion of Iraq. (AEI’s Joshua Muravchik later assailed the program in an article in the September 2003 Commentary, “The Neoconservative Cabal,” in which, among other things, he noted, curiously, that “[Lobe] look(ed) as Jewish as his name sounds.” I am indeed Jewish.) I have since attended several AEI events without incident, but last week, when my colleague, Eli Clifton, was registering for the “No Middle Way: Two Reports on Iraq” event September 6, he was taken aside by AEI’s communications director and told that AEI knew that he worked with me and that, while he was welcome to attend the forum that day, I was still PNG. In a subsequent phone call with Eli, she re-affirmed that I was unwelcome at Washington’s most prominent and influential neo-conservative think tank because I had allegedly made false accusations about and mounted ad hominem attacks against its scholars. Although requested, no specifics were forthcoming, and I remain in the dark about what she — or those who informed her — have in mind.
Of course, my writings about AEI and its associates are on the record, and readers can reach their own conclusions as to the merits of its allegations and the appropriateness of its remedy. But it is remarkable that an institution that prides itself on promoting freedom around the world and on defending “open debate” and “the competition of ideas,” as its mission statement asserts, would seek to restrict access to its policy forums in this way.
Eli, incidentally, is leaving the Washington bureau for a master’s program in international relations at Elliott Abrams’ alma mater, the London School of Economics, as is another valued colleague, Ellen Massey. (Ah, youth!) I have no doubt they will perform brilliantly in their studies and perhaps find some time to continue to contribute to IPS as well.
I hope to catch up quickly on recent events in the coming days and resume posting more frequently next week.