• 27 April 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy

In a recent post at The Corner, neocon and Iran super-hawk Michael Rubin trained his sights at two colleagues of ours–Paul Kerr and Dr. Farideh Farhi–for their criticism of his April 13th Wall Street Journal op-ed.  Apparently acting purely out of malice, Rubin attacked not just the substance of their critique, but he went after Paul’s very freedom to voice his opinions on his personal blog, TotalWonkerr.

[T]his should set the record straight. I am surprised that Congressional Research Service analysts not only blog, but also engage in hackery which appears motivated by either partisanship or a desire to advocate policy rather than analyze. From now on, I certainly would take with a grain of salt CRS reports on non-proliferation if they are authored by Kerr and would question why CRS hires bloggers.

Apparently, Rubin believes that anyone who is an employee of CRS must refrain from any form of advocacy work even in their personal lives.  He acknowledges that the blog was in no way affiliated with CRS, but still felt it necessary to question whether CRS should even employ people who manage blogs on their own.

As a result of Rubin’s attack, Paul’s blog has been taken down for the foreseeable future.  As an avid reader of both men’s blogs, I am outraged that it has come to this.  While I am a strong defender of scholarly debate about important issues–even when that debate becomes heated–I don’t believe for a second that anyone should be deprived of their right to participate in that debate because of their opinions.

The blogosphere has become an incredibly valuable resource for the free exchange of ideas.  Blogs have broken major news stories, provided keen insight and analysis, caught the important stories that have slipped through the cracks of mainstream media, and altered the journalistic landscape forever.  The real virtue of blogs is that anyone can have one–everyone can have a voice to speak out about issues that are important to them.  The ones who do it well–and these are a very select few, including Paul, Farideh, and yes, even Michael–are a trusted and important source of information.  When one is forced to shut down, we are all denied an important piece of the discourse.

For as much as Rubin derides the ruling clerics in Tehran, it is ironic that he mimics their behavior by silencing the voices of those who hold different opinions from his own.

Posted By Patrick Disney

    3 Responses to “Michael Rubin crosses the line by attacking prominent blogger”

  1. Anthony says:

    He has had two more posts since then:


    It’s interesting yet not suprising how he tries to paint NIAC as some kind of an Islamic republic appeasing group.

  2. David says:

    Those are not new tactics by Rubin. He frequently attacks NIAC and Trita because they disagree on policy matters. It’s unfortunate, but if you take a stand for anything in Washington, you will get attacked by someone. I remember when NIAC was being attacked for advocating US-Iran talks – ie the Obama plan! That’s a big reason why Washington is often so devoid of groundbreaking ideas – half the town is too worried about their careers to take a stand for anything too different from the conventional wisdom.

  3. Anthony says:

    Neocons do what they do best. Kill off any opposition.

    Now word has it that NYT has downgraded Roger Cohen’s position within the paper. (remember his excellent Iran pieces?)


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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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