Some very good stuff I stumbled upon -- I'm posting the summary, but you really need to read the links:
Rational discourse 1, conspiracy-mongering 0
What happens when a sober policy analyst who lives on the planet Earth tries to debate a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist?
Slate has the answer. For the past week, Rachel Bronson (a senior fellow and director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations: http://www.cfr.org/bio.php?id=4501 ) and Craig Unger (author of House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=daniewdrezn-20&path=tg/detail/-/074325337X/qid%3D1089318887/sr%3D8-1 ) and featured player in Fahrenheit 9/11) have been debating the U.S.-Saudi relationship in a Slate Dialogue. The specific question: "How Does the Saudi Relationship With the Bush Family Affect U.S. Foreign Policy?" ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2103239/entry/2103433/ )
Although I doubt this was her intent, Bronson pretty much wipes the floor with Unger. While critical of the Bush administration, her comments, when paired next to Unger, makes the latter's theory and evidence collapse like a house of cards. It also clarifies the important distinction between conducting a serious critique of the administration's Middle East policy (particularly pre-9/11) and throwing as much mud as possible at the administration and hoping some of it will stick.
Go read the entire exchange here ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2103239/entry/2103433/ ), here ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2103239/entry/2103502/ ), and here ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2103239/entry/2103577/ )-- excerpting it doesn't do the dialogue justice. I can, however, capture the tone of their exchange:
UNGER: A growing number of people are convinced that 2 + 2 = 5 BRONSON: No, 2 + 2 = 4 UNGER: Yes, but isn't it convenient that this so-called "4" happens to be so close to the number 5? Isn't is essentially true that 2 + 2 is within shouting distance of 5? BRONSON: No, five is the number after four. UNGER: Consider the words "four" and "five". They have the same number of letters, and both start with the letter "f". That can't be a coincidence. BRONSON: I'm not sure I can understand your logic here. UNGER: You can't understand or you refuse to understand?
[Full disclosure: I know Rachel and thought she was whip smart long before reading her clinical dissection of Unger's half-baked innuendo. I referenced her previous work in this post ( http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000174.html ) and in this TCS essay ( http://www.techcentralstation.com/062804A.html ).]
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian concurs in my assessment ( http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/001465.html ).