Monday, February 27, 2006

Grain of Salt

An ongoing trend that I've noted in a good deal of foreign policy reporting is for someone to cite something they've been told as if it is unimpeachable fact. I've seen this from Chinese attitudes on Kosovo to the desire of Iraqis to see the United States keep its troops in-country (see, for example, Larry Kaplan's piece in the latest New Republic).

The test, for me, is whether what a person tells an American is more or less identical to what that person tells someone else. And often there can be important distinctions in comparing what someone has told an American interlocutor (and more importantly how that American interlocutor has interpreted what he or she has heard) and what is said to others.

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