Across the Bay

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Juan the Magnificent

Some more laughs for you. You know it has to be some MESA dude, and indeed, it's the president himself, Juan Cole. Responding to a piece that criticized him (he must lose track of those!), Cole unleashed the only form of rebuttal that he knows. It can be summarized as follows: I am smart, you are stupid. What I say matters, what you say doesn't. I'm a big shot, you're a nobody. Behold, vintage Cole:

    I think it is time to be frank about some things. Jonah Goldberg knows absolutely nothing about Iraq. I wonder if he has even ever read a single book on Iraq, much less written one. He knows no Arabic. He has never lived in an Arab country. He can't read Iraqi newspapers or those of Iraq's neighbors. He knows nothing whatsoever about Shiite Islam, the branch of the religion to which a majority of Iraqis adheres. Why should we pretend that Jonah Goldberg's opinion on the significance and nature of the elections in Iraq last Sunday matters? It does not.

No, your eyes did not deceive you! The guy is so full of himself, it's nauseating. Talk about buying your own hype!

Needless to say, that regardless of his Arabic and his book on Shiite Islam, Cole's non-academic writings are for the most part shrill and rarely insightful, amounting to little more than a pessimistic news round-up, as we've shown several times on this blog (which is why most everyone has dismissed Cole. Even Michael Young called his site "overrated!"). Besides, Cole knows no Hebrew, can't read Israeli papers, knows nothing whatsoever about Israeli society, and yet pontificates constantly on Israel, Sharon, the Likud, etc. His opinion on these issues, by virtue of his own logic, matters not. Yet he graces us with it regularly.

But beside this pathetic (insecure, or just plain self-absorbed?), and ultimately silly condescension, let's once again turn to Cole's greatest enemy: his own JuanColelogical statements.

In attacking Goldberg, the Great Juan Cole writes that Goldberg "was a cheerleader for the unprovoked, unilateral US attack on Iraq." Note to the amnesiac: Cole's own support of that same war is well documented on this blog (see here, and most notably, here.) Let me quote Cole from February, 2003. The reason why I chose that particular quote is because of its equally condescending and self-aggrandizing tone:

    I am an Arabist and happen to know something serious about Baathist Iraq, which paralyzes me from opposing a war for regime change in that country (Milosevic did not kill nearly as many people). If it is true that Chirac thinks the Baath party can be reformed from without, he is simply wrong.

As for Cole's attempt at cynicism with regard to Saddam's WMDs, I turn your attention to this lovely paragraph, which highlights Cole's doubletalk:

    The risks of peace therefore include: ... the possibility that Iraq will develop enough in the way of weapons of mass destruction to break out of containment and to attempt to gain popularity by attacking yet another of its neighbors, perhaps Turkey or Israel. The aggressive, militaristic nature of the Saddam Hussein regime makes such a scenario, however unlikely, at least plausible.

I won't even attempt to comment on the Iran part of Cole's post! I'll leave you to marvel at its silliness by yourself. But Cole said that his opinion on the Iraqi elections matters more than anyone else's. Well, what exactly was Cole's opinion on the election!? That depends if you're asking Dr. Cole or Mr. Juan. On his website (which has nothing to do with his books and his supposed academic expertise), Cole said that he was "appalled" at the positive reactions people were having to the "so-called 'elections'" (he still thinks they're not real elections, but more of a referendum! That's why he qualifies the term with quotation marks and precedes it with "so-called"! Isn't he just adorable!?) He thought that they were flawed, and that they didn't really measure up to the far more democratic Iranian, Bahraini and Pakistani elections!

But before he made those "expert" comments, he appeared on Lehrer's NewsHour where he had a very different tone:

    [I]t'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. ... [S]omething like 40 percent [turnout] or more would be a success.

So, I'm not sure, in light of the quotes above, how Cole differs from Jonah Goldberg in his support of the Iraq war and his position on the elections, assuming that we take seriously the one made by Dr. Cole, and not his alter-ego. You see, it's Dr. Cole who studied Arabic and wrote a book, etc. But he's nowhere to be found on that blog. He only appears on TV shows. He's not the one who wrote the nonsense criticized by Goldberg. He's not the author of the "overrated" blog. That other guy is just a poseur rambling incoherently. If only he would follow his own advice and "please shut up."