The Nation's Article About ISI Report Filled With Factual Errors

Jun 18th, 2010 | By | Category: The Nation

The Nation has published an article criticising a recent report published by London School of Economics (LSE) that claims the Taliban is working under direction of ISI. The article, by reporter Sikander Shaheen, is shameful as it is a hysterical conspiracy theory with a complete lack of factual basis. Actually, the only source that The Nation quotes even contradicts its own article.

The article we are examining, “LSE’s ‘research’ sole creation of a Zionist”, claims that the controversial report about ISI is the work of Jewish propaganda by the US government. This is not supported by any facts.

First, the entire premise of The Nation’s article is incorrect and easily proven to be so. What is shocking, in fact, is that The Nation appears to have published accusations about the author of this report without doing basic fact-checking.

The Nation’s reporter Sikander Shaheen accuses the author of the controversial report, Mr Matt Waldman, of being “an American author and a Jew by faith.” In fact, Mr Matt Waldman is neither.

These factual errors were confirmed by simply emailing to the author’s publicly available email address and asking. Below are his responses.

First, I asked, “Would you confirm if your faith is Judaism or not?”

You’re correct – my faith is not Judaism and never has been.

Second, I asked, “I suspect from your biography posted on the Harvard University website as well as your interview with Al Jazeera that you are also an Englishman – not an American – is this correct also?”

Yes that’s correct – I’m English.

Here is the interview with Mr Waldman on Al Jazeera that was the first clue that The Nation’s reporting was factually incorrect. How can anyone see this interview and say that Matt Waldman is ‘an American author and a Jew by faith’? Obviously they have not done even elementary fact-checking to publish this.

If The Nation cannot be bothered to verify such simple facts as the nationality and religion of a public person like Mr Matt Waldman, how can we trust any of their other claims? As it turns out, these basic facts are not the only problems with this article.

Sikander also claims without any evidence that the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is a well-known ‘US Government propaganda outlet. Even this claim does not stand up using basic research and fact-checking.

In 2006, researchers from the Kennedy School of Government were criticised in the Jerusalem Post for a report that questioned the influence of Israel’s lobbying on US foreign policy.

Prominent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz is taking on the authors of the study, which blasted the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, AIPAC. Dershowitz, one of Israel’s strongest defenders in the American public and academic arena, was mentioned personally in the study as an “apologist” for Israel, claiming he is one of those responsible for endorsing the notion that Israel pursued peace in the Middle East for many years. Dershowitz slammed the authors – Stephan Walt, from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago – and challenged them to a public debate at the Kennedy School. “You have to counter this article”, Dershowitz told The Jerusalem Post, “These are two serious scholars and you need to expose what they have done as ignorant propaganda”.

In fact, a Kennedy School of Government report from April 2008 praises the Hajj for building religion and tolerance.

We find that participation in the Hajj increases observance of global Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting while decreasing participation in localized practices and beliefs such as the use of amulets and dowry. It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment. Increased unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. Instead, Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different
religions.

It seems that calling Kennedy School of Government reports ‘propaganda’ is simply an easy accusation for anyone that does not like the contents of the research. Or does Sikander Shaheen and The Nation believe that the US government is making anti-Israel and pro-Hajj propaganda also?

At the end of the article, Sikander quotes another article written by Raven Gale. This does not appear to be an article published in any newspaper, but a blog post from the website www.ZoneAsia-Pk.com. Even here The Nation fails to be honest because it only quotes part of the Raven Gale’s post that it likes. Actually, the conclusion of the post by Raven Gale contradicts The Nation’s article.

The US has spent US $ 300 billion in Afghanistan so far and it is spending US $ 70 billion annually. 1800 foreign troops of which 1100 are Americans have been killed in Afghanistan. Surely the US would not be doing all this if it was not completely sure of the alliance with Pakistan—if the ‘research paper’ seeks to undermine the US-Pakistan relationship then it is subversive for US policy and goals.

If you are to believe Sikander Shaheen and The Nation, you must think the US government is making propaganda to undermine itself.

All of this is hugely disappointing because there are real and pressing questions about Mr Matt Waldman’s report that can and should be asked without resorting to wild accusations and conspiracy theories. For example, The Nation article notices that,

The paper lacks any mention about the number of casualties suffered by Pakistan Army and public in American war against terrorism that caused irreparable setbacks to Pak economy.

This is an important and legitimate point. So why does The Nation only write this one sentence? Why does The Nation not make some actual arguments about Mr Waldman’s points like Al Jazeera does? Instead they are spending almost all of the article making accusations against the author Mr Waldman and hysterical conspiracies of Jews and American propaganda

This shameful act by The Nation is not only a waste of time, it also undermines any legitimate criticism of Mr Waldman’s report by making those who ask legitimate questions – not to mention Pakistan as a whole – look like crazy people.

Pakistan Media Watch calls on The Nation to publish a full apology and correction.

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