Across the Bay

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Who Trashed JR?

When I first read this insane post by our friend Juan Ricardo (JR), I didn't think too much of it: yet another anti-neocon seizure. It was extra colorful, I thought, falling back on the post-Orientalist fixtures, with a special emphasis on psycho-sexual stuff. It had the feel of an ill-tempered piece, well, more than usual that is. It also focused exclusively on The New Republic as the center of neocon evil (what, no Weekly Standard!?).

Well, now we know why. It was a vendetta piece against The New Republic, which published a devastating piece (reg. req.) by Efraim Karsh, trashing Cole and his "bad blog."

As you may remember, Cole "accused" the guys of Iraq the Model of being CIA agents, and part of a -- you guessed it -- neocon scheme. Why? They had dared to question his authority (or authoritaaa, if you're into South Park). That's something JR simply does not take kindly to.

The sad thing is that in his mind he really thinks there's a Right-wing/Jewish/Neocon/Likudnik conspiracy to take him down, which may help explain the off-the-hook material on Jews recently. As Jonathan Edelstein put it in a comment to my post the other day: it's a total meltdown chez Juan. Well, small wonder, considering what Karsh wrote. Here's a sample:

Cole suffers from many other common Arabist misconceptions that deeply prejudice and compromise his writing. Having done hardly any independent research on the twentieth-century Middle East, Cole's analysis of this era is essentially derivative, echoing the conventional wisdom among Arabists and Orientalists regarding Islamic and Arab history, the creation of the modern Middle East in the wake of World War I, and its relations with the outside world. Worse, Cole's discussion of U.S. foreign policy frequently veers toward conspiratorial anti-Semitism. This is hardly the "informed" commentary Cole claims it to be.

Not that that's anything new to my readers!

PS: Martin Kramer also called Cole on not having written a single book on Iraq, and for having the gall to belittle Kanan Makiya, who's written two:

Juan Cole, president-elect of MESA, hit a foul (as usual), by attacking Kanan Makiya, who's a pillar of Middle Eastern studies at Brandeis. "He is not a scholar," Cole blurted. "Last time I checked he was an architect." Makiya has published two books on modern Iraq with a leading university press. The last time I checked, Cole, who poses as an Iraq expert on his blog, hadn't published any.

See this earlier post of mine as well.

NB: Karsh quotes Cole as only saying that a "small percentage" of Neocons are Jewish. However, this was but a belated attempt at backtracking what Cole had written earlier about the make-up of Neocons. Back then he said that they were "predominantly Jewish."