Across the Bay

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Don Juan

Cole is letting his awe-stricken fans blow his horn, proclaiming his grandeur and indispensability for us simpletons trying to understand the ME. Take this misguided soul for instance, whose email Cole has made public:

    Cole, on the other hand, knows that war is not a game. He lived in war-torn Beirut and knows the realities of civil strife.

Wow, how admirable. But, um, just one problem: Cole hasn't set foot in Iraq since the war began (and possibly ever?). (By the way, this implies that his information on Iraq comes from newspaper reports and possibly sources in Iraq. I.e., his access to information is the same as ours: second hand.) That Cole hasn't been to Iraq was recently pointed out to his face by Fouad Ajami on Al-Jazeera (link in Arabic), when Don Juan went on one of his pontifical rants on the "errors of the Bush administration and its unethical bad policies in Iraq." Said Ajami:

    As for Professor Cole, I would like to offer him an advice as a colleague, with all due respect. I advise Prof. Cole to go to Iraq, because he's not been to Iraq. Had he been to Iraq he would know what the problem of the system (? the Arabic is Niżām which also means "order") is right now, and he would understand the crisis and the difficulty of the American presence in Iraq. [in reference to Cole's criticism of the US military assault on Fallujah]

It should be said that Fouad Ajami (whose work Cole regards with his characteristic contempt and condescension) and Michael Rubin (whom Cole has attacked repeatedly on his site) have both been to Iraq since the war began. Too bad Cole didn't think about that before posting that email (maybe he thought since no one else knows Arabic but him, no one would have seen the Al-Jazeera interview!). But one's own horn can be deafening. (Just look at Mark LeVine's website!)

I'll hopefully be posting translated excerpts from that Al-Jazeera show tomorrow.

Addendum: I would also add that Cole's (and his reader's) point about Goldberg's indirect responsibility for the death of people due to his support of the war is not only reprehensible, it's also incredibly hypocritical given that Cole himself not only supported that same war, but he's also on the record saying that it was worth "the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides." There's a great saying in Beirut, maybe Cole might have heard it when he was there: "he whose house is made of glass, does not throw stones at people."