Across the Bay

Monday, January 31, 2005


Juan Cole's sad ramblings on the Iraqi elections have got him rightly smacked around in the blogosphere (see also my post, "A New Beginning" below). But, as I've shown time and time again, the Professor's worst enemy is himself, and the best rebuttal against his statements, are his own statements! Here's an example to illustrate what I mean.

Yesterday, Cole simply went bananas at the positive reactions people had to the Iraqi elections:

    I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday.
    [T]his process is not a model for anything, and would not willingly be imitated by anyone else in the region. The 1997 elections in Iran were much more democratic, as were the 2002 elections in Bahrain and Pakistan.
    With all the hoopla, it is easy to forget that this was an extremely troubling and flawed "election."
    This thing was more like a referendum than an election. It was a referendum on which major party list associated with which major leader would lead parliament.

You can read criticism of this nonsense at Belgravia Dispatch (including Greg's post on the reactions of the Arab press) and at Belmont Club. But you could also read the transcript of Cole's appearence on The NewsHour this past Friday:

    MARGARET WARNER: Professor Cole if the long-term object here is a free and independent Iraq, how significant a step on that path is the Sunday election?

    JUAN COLE: Well, it's a very significant step. It's the first time that the Iraqis will have an elected government rather than an appointed one for some time.
    MARGARET WARNER: What would you set the threshold for success?

    JUAN COLE: I agree that something like 40 percent or more would be a success. I fear that less than 40 percent would be a problem because they're going to write a constitution as well.
    JUAN COLE: Well, the Shiite political leaders have indicated that they will try to draw the Sunni Arab politicians into the constitution making process, into government.
    MARGARET WARNER: And when you say brought into the government, you're saying, for instance, they could be appointed to some of these appointed posts, the presidency, the prime minister, the cabinet.

    JUAN COLE: The cabinet. And also the entire parliament is not going to write the constitution. So there will be a constituent assembly, some kind of a committee and Sunni Arabs can be appointed to that.

You get the drift. On PBS, he's Dr. Cole: a moderate, soft-spoken expert. The minute he gets in front of his PC, he becomes Mr. Juan: a wild conspiracy theorist, a prophet of defeatism, a nasty source of innuendo and baseless accusations, a biased ideologue and demagogue masquerading as an expert, a cheerleader of anything anti-Bush, and overall, a pissy sourpuss.

Of course, you can't escape a repetition of some of his stupidities like: "In a way it is more of a referendum than it really is an election in the traditional sense." Read this comment by Thibaud to Greg's post on Cole:

    A referendum asks for a Yes/No vote on a specific proposition; no candidates are involved. The result of the referendum is a specific legislative directive on a specific issue to an existing legislature.

    Obviously, this election is just the opposite: it is designed to create a legislature where none exists; to grant constitutive power on a variety of issues to that legislature, not to direct it to act on a single issue; the vote is for legislators, not for a particular piece of legislation.

    Furthermore, party lists are a standard feature of elections in many parliamentary democracies in which parties, not individuals, are the key organizing force in the government.

    I cannot believe that the head of the Middle Eastern Studies Association is ignorant of the difference between a referendum and a party-list election for a constituent assembly.

Another reader (mhw) of that post by Greg coined (as far as I can tell) the term "JuanColelogy." Just like you have "Fisking" now you have "JuanColelogy" ("JuanColelogize," "JuanColelogical," etc.). Indeed, you just witnessed a prime example of JuanColelogy.

Update: Michael Ledeen sheds some light on the comparison between the Iraqi election and the Iranian election of 1997 which Cole thinks was more democratic:

    When he says: " (the Iraqi election) is not a model for anything, and would not willingly be imitated by anyone else in the region. The 1997 elections in Iran were much more democratic..." he has really disqualified himself from being taken seriously. The 2005 Iraqi elections were wide open. Anyone could form a party and run. The 1997 elections in Iran were a sham. The government decided who could run. The guy who "won," Khatami, was "cleared" by the mullahs after they had purged more than three hundred other candidates.

    And this is the president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association! Pfui.