In recent days, the liberal blogosphere has launched a concerted attack against Walid Phares, one of Mitt Romney's senior Mideast advisers. The likes of Ali Gharib, McKay Coppins, and Adam Serwer think they smell blood because of Phares's former association with the Lebanese Forces, the de facto army of the Lebanese Christians during the latter half of Lebanon's civil war. "Top Romney Adviser Tied to Militia That Massacred," intoned Mother Jones in its headline for Serwer's piece. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has joined in, with a particularly pathetic letter to the Romney campaign requesting "that Phares be removed" from his advisory position.
The assault on Phares is interesting not just because of the basic ignorance behind its main contentions but also because of its true motives.
A bit of background first. In the years after the 1967 war, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was expelled from the Jordanian West Bank and harried by Jordanian and Syrian forces all the way into Lebanon, where it eventually plunged the whole country into civil war. Phares was a teenager when the conflict erupted in 1975. In 1979, when he was 22 years old, Phares published the first of his many books, Pluralism in Lebanon, which called for Swiss-style federated autonomy for the country's various ethnic and confessional communities. Of course, among liberals, an idea like that is a cause célèbre — when it is advanced by people they like — and a "hard-line extremist" product of "hateful ideology" when it comes from someone they disagree with.