Yep, it's sad, but after trying for two weeks to get the Washington Post to correct what I thought was an obvious error in an article by George Will, I could only come to one conclusion: It must not be an error after all.
It's obvious that The Washington Post Writer's Group wouldn't allow other newspapers who purchased Will's syndicated column to knowingly publish errors, right? Of course it is.
So, reeling from my newly lost faith in General Wesley Clark, I looked for someone to blame for all this and, as the song goes, I blame Canada. I mean, if the Canadians hadn't had several websites which seemed to be connected to "Middle East think tanks in Canada," (just as General Clark said) I would have believed George Will immediately when he said there was no such "Canadian institution." I wouldn't have had to go through two weeks of frustration, only to end up disenchanted.
The following is a copy of a letter I sent to those alleged "think tanks" and to several Canadian newspapers.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing today in order to inform you that we know the truth and you Canadians can just quit faking it. Sure, you've put up some websites to make it look like you've got your own think tanks which focus on Middle Eastern issues, but we know they don't really exist.
George Will said so.
You see, retired American general Wesley Clark said a while back that he'd received a call from someone connected to "a Middle East think tank in Canada." George Will told us that the general must have been lying. "There is no such Canadian institution," he wrote. Until that moment, I was sure that General Clark was an honorable, intelligent man. I believed that a man who had graduated first in his class at West Point, was chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar and achieved enough in his career to be selected Supreme Allied Commander of NATO must be an honorable man. Maybe I was blinded by the gleam from the purple heart he received in Vietnam. I was such a fool.
However, my faith in the man didn't die easily. No way. I was taught during my own service in my nation's military that the true measure of a professional is attention to detail.
I jumped on the internet and searched and found several groups that I thought could justifiably be classified as Canadian Middle East think tanks. I, and others, found the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the Canadian-Arab Federation and the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. We also found the B’Nai Brith Canada Institute for International Affairs and the Inter-University Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies. Since several of the institutions referred to themselves as "think tanks" on their websites and clearly had a Middle East focus, I thought that George Will must have been mistaken.
However, after contacting George Will, the Washington Post and the Washington Post Writers Group over a period of two weeks, there has been no movement to correct Will's statement. Since the Washington Post couldn't possibly be refusing to correct an easily disprovable error in their newspaper, especially when that error had been made by one of their most widely read columnists, a man whose columns were syndicated by their own internal syndication organ. I would have to be crazy to think that. I mean, it would be bad enough simply to believe that they would knowingly refuse to correct an error, but to think that they then sent that column to other newspapers, causing them to unknowingly print falsehoods on their own opinion pages... well, that's a madness from which one doesn't recover, right? I mean, wouldn't it be financially unsound for the Post to do something like that?
Therefore, I must conclude that there really are no Middle East think tanks in Canada.
I would appreciate it if the lot of you could see to the removal of these obviously false websites. They are painful reminders of the faith I once held in General Wesley Clark.
Terry L. Welch
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to be alone for a while.