Instead of a muffin with your coffee this morning…

by Kieran Healy on February 8, 2005

Try Juan Cole’s critique of Jonah Goldberg and his ilk. Fewer calories and more satisfying.

{ 89 comments }

1

Uncle Kvetch 02.08.05 at 2:54 pm

“Books are nice. They are rectangular and soft and have information in them. They can even be consumed on airplanes. Goldberg should try one.”

You’re right, Kieran. There’s only one word: delicious.

2

SomeCallMeTim 02.08.05 at 2:56 pm

“Critique” seems wrong; I think the word you’re looking for is “beatdown.”

3

jet 02.08.05 at 2:56 pm

Oh shizzam, looks like Goldberg got his ass handed to him on this one. I’d be embarrassed if I was Jonah. I always love that tool of the Left about how it is up to the polis to decide to fight a war and then it is up to the polis to get their asses out there to die in the war. From Ancient Athens, to Machivali, to 2003 USA, it has been citizens doing the dieing. Except I’m sure there were always those who voted for war and then let someone else go die in it.

4

P O'Neill 02.08.05 at 3:06 pm

In addition to the justified attack on Goldberg, Cole raises the more general point on the eagerness of the media to rely on utterly uninformed pundits, preferably young ones. This is especially pernicious for the likes of Goldberg, where actual lives get lost because of their bloodlust. But Howler picks up on Sunday’s Washington Post doing exactly the same thing for Social Security, another propaganda campaign with dire consequences for many people.

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh020705.shtml

5

Des von Bladet 02.08.05 at 3:08 pm

I seem to have missed the bit about ilks, though.

I only went there for the majestically-intlered ilks and instead I got a harangue, and Lord knows there’s no shortage of harangues on the Interweb.

6

Jack Lake 02.08.05 at 3:13 pm

One may have opinions on Iraq without reading books about Iraq or speaking Arabic. The only question is whether you make sense.

Jonah Goldberg doesn’t make sense. Gibberish is unacceptable; English, French and Arabic, for instance, are fine. Demanding Arabic as a precondition for opinions on Iraq mocks freedom of speech.

7

chris 02.08.05 at 3:20 pm

Of course in ancient Athens, when the pundit Cleon started on about how to run the war, the polis voted that if he felt that strongly about it he could go and direct the campaign in the field. And off he had to go. That would wake up the Goldbergs of this world.

8

catfish 02.08.05 at 3:38 pm

You know, blogospheric claims to be superceding the mainstream media have always seemed silly to me. A guy with a computer is not going to be to do a lot of reporting. However, this is a good example of how mainstream media pundits are made obselete by bloggers. Reading blogs has entirely cured me of my former desire to read newspaper opinion columnists or magazines like National Review or even the Nation.

9

r 02.08.05 at 3:43 pm

But then Hodges pointed out the shoe polish on the ball and Cleon was given a free base.

10

john b 02.08.05 at 3:48 pm

I came up with a modest theory for dealing with pundits like Goldberg over the weekend: put all war plans to a public referendum, and (if it’s approved) staff the army for that war out of conscripted “yes” voters…

11

freddie 02.08.05 at 3:52 pm

In a world of what seems black verus white in which we choose sides, I say pooie on BOTH of those dreary people. Cole is certainly no hero for me.

12

John Emerson 02.08.05 at 3:56 pm

Unfortunately, Cleon fucked everything up. Not a solution.

Cole didn’t claim that you had to know Arabic. He did say, correctly, that it was one of his many advantages over Goldberg. A second advantage is that Cole may have written more books about Iraq than Goldberg has read.

Let’s fine-tune the “elitism” problem here. Cle is an elitist because he’s an academic and a scholar and because he shows disrespect for ignorant people who state ignorant opinions.

So far so good. So Goldberg is a victim. On the other hand, Goldberg is very well paid to share his ignorance with millions of people, and in his small way he is welcome in the circles of the mighty. He’s a tiny little mover and shaker, whereas Cole is on the outside looking in. (Note that he said that he made rather little money from lecturing? If he were conservative hawk — e.g. Ledeen — he wouldn’t be saying that.

It gets worse when you ask yourself how got to where he is. His horrible mother happened to play a rather shameful role in the ludicrous Lewinsky case. She parlayed this into a scurrilous right-wing website. Her son was bright enough to use her connections to get on at NRO. And god knows how he moved up to CNN, but I imagine that it was pressure for ideological balance, either from noisy right wing operatives or from CNN upper mangement.

It’s people like Goldberg, who are not few, who make me reject the idea that in the US it’s possible to be an intelligent conservative any more. Conservatives who can’t compromise and become Democrats have nowhere to go. The Republican ideology is hysterical mass delusion.

13

Matthew 02.08.05 at 4:15 pm

That post from Cole is fantastic in so many ways. A cry for nuance, knowledge and a shot of sweet rationality which will probably be wildly ignored in the places where it would do some good.
And of course it is hilarious.

14

dsquared 02.08.05 at 4:34 pm

Hmmm … I suppose this rehabilitates Cole with me and makes up for the bum steer he gave us on Qaradawi. I have been thinking of getting a tattoo recently, and the phrase “the problem with not knowing what you are talking about is that you get things wrong” is certainly up there with a few other candidates.

15

Ted H. 02.08.05 at 4:40 pm

I disagree with Goldberg about almost everything, and I mostly agree with Cole. But the idea that you can’t reasonably support a war unless you actively seek to fight in it is quite wrong. It’s fine to say that can’t reasonably support a war if you’re not _willing_ to fight in it. (I mean, you can’t be supporting while _refusing_ to serve.) But there’s no reason to treat actively signing up as the only sign of willingness.

And it doesn’t help at all to restrict the principle to younger people. Why should only younger people have this restriction on what opinions they can hold? The restriction supposedly derives from a conception of what it takes to be a serious participant in debate about war, and it’s arbitrary to say that once you reach a certain age you’re off the hook.

In fact, each one of us _had_ to take a position on the Iraq War. I know this wan’t true of anyone who reads this blog, but imagine you considered the case on its merits (of course reading lots of books!) and came to the conclusion that war was justified. (Some reasonably well-informed people did reach this conclusion, after all.) But now imagine you realize that you’re not disposed to change your life and join the military. What do you do? Well, maybe you should try harder to convince yourself to join. But say that doesn’t work: you’re just not going to do it.

Do your dispositions really give you an _intellectual_ obligation to change your opinion of the war?

Two different things are being conflated in Cole’s move. Yes, someone who supported the war does thereby have a reason to actively fight it. And such a person can be criticized for not acting on this reason. But someone who is not willing to act on the reason does not have an obligation to withdraw support for the war.

As philosophers put it, Cole’s move — the ‘chicken hawk’ move — conflates practical and epistemic reasons. Yes, supporting the war gives you a practical reason to fight it. But the fact that you’re not fighting the war does not give you an epistemic reason to withdraw your support for it.

The only good point in the neighborhood is this: being _unwilling_ to fight (fleeing to Canada, etc.) would reveal that your support for the war was premised on making an exception of yourself. And that’s bad. But simply not fighting (not enlisting, etc.) is not the same as making an exception of yourself, since doing so is perfectly compatible with viewing yourself as under the same moral and legal norms that apply to everyone.

16

bob mcmanus 02.08.05 at 4:41 pm

Note the lack of the usual suspects of the right jumping here to a general defense of Goldberg. I say general because on some other issue when Goldberg, who entirely lacks credentials on any useful subject, faces less fierce competition they will be back.

The other bullies are hiding around the corner for the littler kids.

17

PJS 02.08.05 at 5:22 pm

I think Ted H. is, as a general matter, right in saying that, since a person’s reasons for not wanting to join the military don’t affect the balance of reasons for or against a given war, it is wrong to imply that a person can’t both be in favor of a war and personally unwilling (though eligible) to fight in it.

But Cole’s point, even if he doesn’t put it this way, seems to have more to do with whether or not it is morally admirable, as opposed to logically permissible, to hold those two positions simultaneously. One of the distinctive features of the war-pundits and the war-bloggers is their perverse idea that their vociferous support for the war is somehow an act of great courage and patriotism on their part, and that, conversely, being against it can only be explained by cowardice or disloyalty. It is that combination of self-congratulation and willingness to let others take risks in service of your heroic self-image that rankles.

18

Uncle Kvetch 02.08.05 at 5:49 pm

It is that combination of self-congratulation and willingness to let others take risks in service of your heroic self-image that rankles.

Precisely. Ted H. makes a good theoretical point–one can “support” a war without necessarily fighting in it–but there are other factors at work in this case. It’s one thing to “support” the war, in the sense of believing it is justifiable, while still respecting the views of those who may differ. It’s quite another to use that “support” as a club with which to bash those who disagree, however–throwing around accusations of treason, “pro-terrorist” sympathies, “America-hating,” etc. And this is the kind of trash-talking on which Goldberg has built his career in punditry.

Also, while it is certainly true that, as Ted notes, “some reasonably well-informed people” did support the war, it’s equally worth noting that many (if not most) of them have since reconsidered, or are at least willing to express some nuanced opinions on the subject. It’s only ideologically blinkered types like Goldberg to continue to insist that the war was not only fully justified, but that it has been a smashing success–a position that, at this point, borders on the delusional.

19

P O'Neill 02.08.05 at 5:50 pm

Goldberg goes for another round today and concludes by showing what a truly classy, substantive guy he is:

>>
if I win [a bet he proposes with Cole], I’ll donate the money to the USO. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.
>>

20

Uncle Kvetch 02.08.05 at 5:55 pm

He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.

Case in point.

21

Ted H. 02.08.05 at 6:12 pm

Kvetch and PJS,

My only point is that we get our arguments straight. Yes, Goldberg is obnoxious. But his obnoxiousness has nothing whatsoever to do with whether he enlisted in the military. Imagine he had enlisted and yet kept his column at NRO. I can’t speak for you, but I’d be disinclined to say “It’s okay for him to attack his opponents as unpatriotic (etc.) since after all he’s in the military.” Would his enlisting give you any reason to find his attitudes and rhetoric less objectionable?

22

Uncle Kvetch 02.08.05 at 6:30 pm

Ted, I see what you’re saying, and it’s a good point. It’s very easy to fall back on the “put up or shut up” argument when dealing with someone as obnoxious and unprincipled as Goldberg. But I would have to concede that you’re right in saying that, were Goldberg actually in the military, his ugly smear tactics would be no less offensive. The “chickenhawk” argument can indeed turn around and bite one in the ass, if one isn’t careful.

All that said, I can’t help feeling that the fact that Goldberg isn’t in the military–and apparently has never even considered the possibility of joining–makes his tactics all the uglier. Not that he would be justified in making those arguments were he in the service, but given the fact that he isn’t, it’s all the more galling.

23

Uncle Kvetch 02.08.05 at 6:32 pm

Ted, I see what you’re saying, and it’s a good point. It’s very easy to fall back on the “put up or shut up” argument when dealing with someone as obnoxious and unprincipled as Goldberg. But I would have to concede that you’re right in saying that, were Goldberg actually in the military, his ugly smear tactics would be no less offensive. The “chickenhawk” argument can indeed turn around and bite one in the ass, if one isn’t careful.

All that said, I can’t help feeling that the fact that Goldberg isn’t in the military—and apparently has never even considered the possibility of joining—makes his tactics all the uglier. Not that he would be justified in making those arguments were he in the service, but given the fact that he isn’t, it’s all the more galling.

24

John Emerson 02.08.05 at 7:04 pm

I think that there’s a bit of a pattern that young draft-age hawks, including liberal hawks like Yglesias and Adesnik, see no problem at all with being very hawkish while at the same time never even thinking of the possibility of entering the military.

Having a volunteer Army is partly for that purpose, to disengage most people from the costs.

I come from an area with very high military participation (National Guards were regarded as draft dodgers in my day). When I think of war I think of people I know possibly getting killed. (And yes, I have two relatives who are at risk).

It’s just too obvious nowadays that most of the game planners are all people who are careful never to be at risk, and that’s what the chickenhawk thing is all about.

McCain is very hawkish, and while I disagree with him, he has credibility in this respect.

25

BigMacAttack 02.08.05 at 7:19 pm

Cole really doesn’t come across all that great in this extended exchange.

Ted H points out one such example.

Uncle Kvetch, please provide an example where Goldberg equates opposition to the war with treason. Or bashes anti-war supporters, who are not sympathetic to terrorists, as sympathetic to terrorists.

How much knowledge? How many economics classes must you have taken before you comment on Bush’s economic policies? How many economic books must you have read? Does Jaun Cole really want to go there? I doubt he does. He really isn’t laying out principles so much as using what appears to be a principle to bash Goldberg.

Climate change? Do I need a degree before I can comment in an intelligent manner? Do you?

How much Arabic must you speak before you can comment intelligently about Iraq? How many books about Iraq must you have read? How much can you speak? How much have you read? Has every member of CT read a book about Iraq?

Etc.

Cole makes some decent points and so does Goldberg.

But much of what Cole does is just repeatedly appeal to himself as a higher authority while engaging in ad hominem attacks.

And sums it up with some silly rhetoric about my plans to destroy the Constitution. Drats foiled again! How did Cole find out!?!

26

catfish 02.08.05 at 7:25 pm

I think that there should be a police and fire department in which individuals put their lives at risk to benefit me and the rest of society. I have not intention of ever joining either department. I am never going to join the military, either, but I think that there are situations in which military force is necessary. Many people agree with me. Therefor, the chickenhawk argument is a waste of time. I am also unsure that I want many of the unthinking jingoists to join the military either. The kinds of things that we ask our military to do requires expertise and sound judgement under trying circumstances.

27

Davis X. Machina 02.08.05 at 7:57 pm

I think that there should be a police and fire department in which individuals put their lives at risk to benefit me and the rest of society

I do, too.

But then, I’m not a career criminal, or a repeat arsonist.

And that’s the position analogous to the one in which Goldberg finds himself.

28

Davis X. Machina 02.08.05 at 7:59 pm

I think that there should be a police and fire department in which individuals put their lives at risk to benefit me and the rest of society

I do, too.

But then, I’m not a career criminal, or a repeat arsonist.

And that’s the position analogous to the one in which Goldberg finds himself.

29

neil 02.08.05 at 8:09 pm

I don’t see where this arguement goes – some one I agree with says that some one I disagree with is wrong, and I agree.

30

Jaybird 02.08.05 at 8:24 pm

Over on the corner, everyone is clapping Jonah on the back for delivering a knockout punch to Cole. Emails galore talking about what a great argument he had.

Goldberg made a good point a few days ago when he said “For the most part, folks who were introduced to me through him, agree with him and vice versa.”

As for the whole chickenhawk argument style, it makes as much sense to me as someone who says “You oppose the war but you’re not going over to Iraq as a human shield?”

It’s a lame argument. There are any number of military bloggers who give the same “talking points” as are given on the Corner and yet it’s always the person who did not join the army who are being attacked for giving those arguments.

Let’s say that someone like Lt. Smash or Cpt. Hook gives an argument identical to the one given by a so-called “chickenhawk”. Does the argument now floor you? Are you left with no counter-argument and left to hang your head in quiet shame?

No?

Then why not give the arguments you’d give back to a Lt. Smash/Cpt. Hook to the Chickenhawks?

It’s not like your arguments against the war are lessened by the fact that you aren’t chained to an Iraqi orphanage.

31

mg 02.08.05 at 8:31 pm

Climate change? Do I need a degree before I can comment in an intelligent manner?

IME, yes, though that is not a sufficient condition.

32

mg 02.08.05 at 8:42 pm

How many economics classes must you have taken before you comment on Bush’s economic policies?

More than two. I know that because that’s how many I’ve taken, and most of the discussion is over my head.

Does Jaun Cole really want to go there?

Why not?

Climate change? Do I need a degree before I can comment in an intelligent manner?

IME, yes, though that is not a sufficient condition.

As for the whole chickenhawk argument style, it makes as much sense to me as someone who says “You oppose the war but you’re not going over to Iraq as a human shield?”

No it doesn’t. A person who opposes the war might say that under their preferred policy, no one has the need to go to Iraq. A person who supports that has no such options.

“Why don’t you move to Iraq/Cuba/etc if you like them so much” is a closer analogy. Of course, a person who opposes a war needn’t hold the opinion that the status quo is ideal, so that doesn’t work either.

Let’s say that someone like Lt. Smash or Cpt. Hook gives an argument identical to the one given by a so-called “chickenhawk”. Does the argument now floor you? Are you left with no counter-argument and left to hang your head in quiet shame?

It’s conceivable. However, demonstrating that your opponent doesn’t believe his argument is as good a way as any to win the argument.
Considering we can think of this particular argument as having real-world consequences, winning the argument is as much of a value as coming up with clever counter-arguments.

Then why not give the arguments you’d give back to a Lt. Smash/Cpt. Hook to the Chickenhawks?

I guess if you have nothing better to do with your time, that makes sense.

33

Pollie Anon 02.08.05 at 8:42 pm

Colour me not impressed with Cole’s arguments or his track record.

I mean c’mon, that book comment he leads off with. Did anyone honestly believe Goldberg hadn’t read a book on Iraq just cause he likes The Simpsons?

If that’s what all those intellectual credentials do for you, they’re not worth much.

Kieran was right — cole’s response does lack more calories than a muffin.

Plus it lacks substance, fibre and taste.

34

John Emerson 02.08.05 at 8:50 pm

Resentment of intelligence seems to be one of the basic values of today’s conservativism. Elitism is very very bad. Yes, bigmac, it’s true. People DO despise you because you’re ill-informed and not too bright. Live with it. Your friends control the government, but you still get no respect. Boo hoo.

What a shitty version of conservativism. What Cole said is that Goldberg doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Goldberg scarcely bother to deny it, and his ideological soul brothers are backing him to the hilt.

The chickenhawk argument, which is not intrinsically very powerful, was pretty secondary. I think that Goldberg especially attracts that argument because of his combination of loud hawkisness and egregious weeniness. Not a rare combination, of course.

35

Jaybird 02.08.05 at 8:53 pm

Mg, it seems to me that dealing with the argument on its merits is a better use of one’s time than ignoring the argument and instead attacking the person making it.

36

Jaybird 02.08.05 at 8:55 pm

Mg, it seems to me that dealing with the argument on its merits is a better use of one’s time than ignoring the argument and instead attacking the person making it.

37

Jaybird 02.08.05 at 8:57 pm

Mg, it seems to me that dealing with the argument on its merits is a better use of one’s time than ignoring the argument and instead attacking the person making it.

38

Jaybird 02.08.05 at 9:05 pm

Darn it, my apologies. I thought it didn’t take and I went out of my way to check the page again and refreshed and everything before trying a second time.

Color me stupid.

39

John Emerson 02.08.05 at 9:19 pm

Everyone does it, jaybird. CT needs a new techie.

40

John Emerson 02.08.05 at 9:21 pm

Everyone does it, jaybird. CT needs a new techie.

I got an error message the first time, if this is a second post.

41

mg 02.08.05 at 9:50 pm

Mg, it seems to me that dealing with the argument on its merits is a better use of one’s time than ignoring the argument and instead attacking the person making it.

No doubt, provided that dealing with the argument will take no more time than attacking the person. IME, the reverse is much more common.

42

Jaybird 02.08.05 at 10:19 pm

If time management is one’s highest priority, agreeing is much more conducive to having more time on one’s hands than resorting to personal attacks.

In my experience.

43

susan 02.08.05 at 10:20 pm

How many economics classes must you have taken before you comment on Bush’s economic policies? How many economic books must you have read? Does Jaun Cole really want to go there?

Dr. Cole does not suggest that one must have specialized expertise before developing an opinion. He does suggest, and he’s absolutely right, that when one does not have specialized expertise in a given subject, and in fact has an avowed lack of any knowledge at all of a given subject, one should probably not insist on being taken seriously as a professional commentator on that subject.

44

Uncle Kvetch 02.08.05 at 10:54 pm

Bigmacattack: Uncle Kvetch, please provide an example where Goldberg equates opposition to the war with treason.

OK, you got me. As of this writing, I have not found a post in which Goldberg does so.

Before I slink away in shame, however, I should point out that I did find a post on The Corner in which Goldberg refers to Patrick Stewart (who, as we all know, is second only to Michael Moore as a representative of the America-hating left) as a “traitorous crapweasel.” Stewart’s crime, apparently, is referring to contemporary Western civilization as “seriously flawed.” Which, as we all know, is tantamount to walking around with an “I [heart] Osama” t-shirt.

Link:
http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_02_01_corner-archive.asp#024487

45

mg 02.08.05 at 11:02 pm

If time management is one’s highest priority, agreeing is much more conducive to having more time on one’s hands than resorting to personal attacks.

In my experience.

:)

Well, the best option is just to avoid silly arguments alogether, in this case. But sometimes people can’t help it.

46

neil 02.08.05 at 11:46 pm

The argument about “specialized knowledge” and “being taken seriously” doesn’t amount to much. Some people take Cole seriously and some take Goldberg seriously. I’m sure both sides would argue that their positions are “informed”.

Let’s face it, fans of Cole and fans of Goldberg are just not going to have much common ground. And that comes down to different judgments on the available information. Information does not lead automatically to any one political point of view, those are essentially moral choices.

47

Cheryl 02.09.05 at 12:01 am

Walter Cronkite recently said on C-Span that he didn’t understand why more people were not filing lawsuites with regard to be personal attacks.

And it appears to be Goldberg’s Fault- his negligence or malice. Negligence is failure to exercise reasonable care. What would a reasonably prudent person do? Trusting an untrustworthy source? Failure to check statements not understood? Misreading a file? Leaving out pertinent facts? Simple carelessness?

It’s has NOT been okay for Dan Rather but it’s okay for Goldberg. And it has also been okay for Bill O’Reilly too.

The NYT says it’s sorry about not demanding more information before the build up to war in Iraq and yet the newspaper still does nothing to find the truth now.

I believe Bush is guilty of lying about this war in Iraq. Bush is guily of the “knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of whether the material was false or not,” and surely this is incontestable by the very way Bush smeared the UN inspectors before rushing to war least the UN inspects find NO reason to pursue war.

I wonder why more family members of those who have died in this war or whom suffered injury are not more interested in finding out if their lose is due to financial reasons for a few rich individuals the rush rather than security reasons that Bush insisted on. Remembering that someone call Wesley Clark right after 9/11 and encouraged Clark to say that Saddam/Iraq was behind the 9/11 attack.

Cole writes this:

—“One US embassy official said that it wouldn’t be possible for Iraq to have a prime minister of whom the US disapproved. Judith Miller just last week on Hardball let slip that the US is offering people cabinet posts in the new Iraqi government.—” This is NOT real FREEDOM for Iraqis.

—-“Contrary to Goldberg’s assertion, the UN weapons inspectors did not substantiate the Bush administration’s rationale for war. By early March of 2003, the weapons inspectors had visited 100 of the 600 sites specified by the CIA and found bupkes. Bush pulled them out and went to war anyway, over their objections. Goldberg ridiculed the Europeans for asking for the inspectors (who had just gone in) to have more time to complete their task. But if they had been allowed to do so, as the French suggested, we might have avoided this war. Even before they went back in, Scott Ritter was saying the vast majority of the stuff had been destroyed. And Imad Khadduri, who is, like, a real Iraqi nuclear scientist, was saying there was nothing there, which I cited in February 2003 before the war. Where was Jonah’s judgment then?”

And this…

Khidir Hamza appears to have been paid by someone (and got big royalties from the American Enterprise Institute) to spin a web of complete lies about the Iraqi (non-existent by then) nuclear program.

This war has been one big lie right after another and Bush, his administration and hired Republican pundits have pressed these lie without impunity.

The evidence is mounting that this war in Irag had nothing whatsoever to do with national security but everything to do with money and control of resources.

48

John Emerson 02.09.05 at 12:14 am

Someone should take Neil’s most recent post, pickle it, put it in a bottle, and take it around to high school classes as an example of deliberately missing the point. He just parrots Goldberg’s lame rejoinder: “It’s a free country and everyone has a right to his own opinion, and anyway, it’s all opinion and no one really knows for sure”.

Someone tell the New Criterion about the new conservative standards. And the new conservative “anything goes”.

49

neil 02.09.05 at 1:15 am

I don’t think my post is quite worthy of preserving for prosperity. I was merely pointing out that the tribal loyalties of both sides win out in the end. It’s an observation of the way the the argument goes not a justification for anything like “anything goes”.

Is anyone who agrees Cole or Goldberg actually going to change their minds?

50

Kieran 02.09.05 at 2:06 am

The argument about “specialized knowledge” and “being taken seriously” doesn’t amount to much. Some people take Cole seriously and some take Goldberg seriously. I’m sure both sides would argue that their positions are “informed”.

Let’s face it, fans of Cole and fans of Goldberg are just not going to have much common ground.

Neil, do you really think there is no fact of the matter about whether Juan Cole is more knowledgable than Jonah Goldberg about Iraq, and Middle Eastern politics in general?

It’s an observation of the way the the argument goes not a justification for anything like “anything goes”.

The correct conclusion from your argument isn’t “And so this is essentially a moral choice”, it’s “People who think Goldberg’s opinions about Iraq are better-informed than Coles are deluding themselves” — whether anyone changes their minds or not.

51

Gus diZerega 02.09.05 at 2:15 am

Neil’s argument removes any reason for an effort to actually find the truth. It is the same argument that holocaust deniers and intelligent design people make – it’s all opinion after all. So reasons are secondary.

I doubt he believes what he says. Does he take his act to a person without “specialized knowledge?” Are car mechanics’ judgments just opinions? Or doctors? What silliness.

52

neil 02.09.05 at 2:20 am

Yes Cole is more knowledgable than Goldberg on the Middle East. But that does not lead to agreeing with Cole’s point of view. Look at the whole war debate. There are very informed and intelligent people on all parts of that spectrum. At some point it comes down to a judgement call

53

Thomas 02.09.05 at 2:43 am

Kieran, I can think that Cole’s opinions about Iraq are better-informed than Goldberg’s, without thinking that Cole’s opinion about Iraq is better than Goldberg’s opinion.

If someone has extensive factual knowledge by makes logical errors in their argument, then the fact that they have extensive factual knowledge is irrelevant. Similarly, if one is entirely ignorant of the facts but guesses the right answer, the process is irrelevant to the quality of the opinion.
Goldberg makes a reasonable case that Cole’s arguments on the Iraqi election are contradictory. Cole didn’t bother to offer a reasoned response to Goldberg’s argument, instead choosing to call names. Cole did that very well, and without contradiction, and to that extent we should be proud of him.

54

BigMacAttack 02.09.05 at 4:13 am

Uncle Kvetch,

:). I don’t want this to come wrong but it probably will.

Nice job. Stand tall and make fun of Goldberg for quoting his wife’s opinion that Cole is a dummy partisan.

But please a little slack on the the Goldberg as an evil blood thristy monster thing.(Or at last quote the actual post when he sidles right up to the drawing line between brutal and humane.)

55

Michael 02.09.05 at 7:00 am

Does anyone else think that Goldberg’s offer to bet on the likelihood of a civil war in Iraq was incredibly revealing of his attitude towards the Iraqi people as being pawns of no consequence in a game staged for his amusement?

I mean, would he be willing to bet on the likelihood of a major terrorist attack in an American city in 2005? On the likelihood of an American president being assassinated? On the likelihood of American casualties in Iraq passing a certain number?

I’m sure he would denounce such a bet as being incredibly tasteless and offensive, and yet he expects Juan Cole to bet in favour of a civil war in Iraq?

Seems like he was trying for a clever gambit to shift the focus away from his perceived lack of expertise, but revealed a bit too much about his attitude in the process.

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bad Jim 02.09.05 at 9:07 am

Bigmacattack, didn’t you notice Goldberg’s remark, about the bet he proposed, that “[Cole] can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is”?

He suggested that Cole might be inclined to give financial aid to the enemy. Treason is certainly implied.

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MFB 02.09.05 at 11:01 am

It is probably true (evident in these comments) that those who agree with Goldberg will disagree with Cole, and vice versa.

However, there is an objective reality out there. Goldberg and Cole disagree on Iraq in a large number of areas, in general. In these areas they cannot both be right.

So far as I see, Cole’s track record is immensely better than Goldberg’s; that is, Cole has made vastly fewer wrong predictions, and where he has made wrong predictions these have at least been justified by facts on the ground. Goldberg seems to be almost entirely driven by fantasies.

In the end, therefore, Cole seems objectively preferable to Goldberg, and those people line up with Goldberg and who deny this are showing their lack of concern with reality, even when it may soon bite them on the bum-cheeks.

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Thomas 02.09.05 at 3:26 pm

Michael, the proposed bet reminded me of the Simon/Ehrlich wager, so, no, I didn’t find it revealing.

bad Jim–al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is not at war with the U.S. They aren’t an “enemy” of the U.S. in the sense that it would be treasonous to support them. (It might be illegal to support them, but not treason.) Don’t let Juan know of your ignorance–he’ll post again and again.

mfb–the exchange between Goldberg and Cole raises two questions: has Cole been consistent, and is he willing to make predictions that can be judged? Goldberg offered good reasons, which Cole didn’t respond to, for thinking that Cole has been inconsistent, and Goldberg offered Cole a chance to make a prediction, which chance Cole declined.

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Functional 02.09.05 at 5:14 pm

Far be it from me to recall the actual issue that started this whole debate. Nonetheless: As Goldberg pointed out quite plainly (scroll down to the paragraph beginning “let me appeal to one more expert”), Cole wrote an article a year ago in which he praised the Iraq election plan to the high heavens, and hoped that it would be a democratic model for theocratic Iran. But suddenly, as soon as Bush went along with the Iraq election plans, now Cole purports to think that the Iraq election is a “disaster,” and that Iran’s election was much more democratic.

Cole never even deigned to respond to Goldberg on why he so blatantly contradicts himself. Cole’s ability to hide any real argument under a cloud of invective and ad hominems is impressive to people who are impressed by that sort of thing, but anyone of ordinary intelligence will see that Cole is being exceedingly evasive on the very issue of disagreement.

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Eddie Thomas 02.09.05 at 5:16 pm

Susan writes:
“Dr. Cole does not suggest that one must have specialized expertise before developing an opinion. He does suggest, and he’s absolutely right, that when one does not have specialized expertise in a given subject, and in fact has an avowed lack of any knowledge at all of a given subject, one should probably not insist on being taken seriously as a professional commentator on that subject.”

I agree that Cole is making this claim, but I disagree strongly. Pundits are a dime a dozen, but whatever value they have is in cultivating public opinion. That cultivation, however, need not, and should not, be left to experts. Goldberg doesn’t have Cole’s credentials, but he does give more thought to these matters than many, and so he is potentially a benefit to them. Goldberg has a degree of trust from like-minded people, and he has earned that trust not simply by being an echo-chamber but by challenging their self-understanding of what it means to be a conservative and how that might play out with regard to different issues. He doesn’t challenge you? So be it, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t doing something of value. (I don’t usually find myself challenged by him, by the way.)

I think some self-examination is in order for anyone who isn’t viscerally disturbed by Cole’s rhetoric, whether you agree with his views on Iraq or not. He is the perfect image of why people outside the academy take the academy so unseriously.

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Uncle Kvetch 02.09.05 at 6:03 pm

I just have to say that I’m positively giddy with excitement at the possibilities offered by this groundbreaking epistemological advance.

I’ve always wanted to be a fluent speaker of Spanish. Now, am I going to let some pointy-headed, elitist college professors tell me what is and isn’t “Spanish,” just because they’ve read some books and been to a Spanish-speaking country? Why should their opinion count more than anyone else’s?

(Let’s not even get into the fact that what they call “Spanish” is probably just a stalking horse for some discredited goofball left-wing theory, like Marxism or postmodernism or evolution.)

No sir: I’ll decide what is and isn’t “Spanish,” thank you very much. And I’ve decided that it is, in fact, indistinguishable from English. Why, I’m writing in Spanish right now! And if you disagree, there’s no point in discussing it, because we’re never going to convince each other. Case closed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go update my resume.

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John Emerson 02.09.05 at 6:43 pm

Eddie, I’m afraid that the finger points the other direction. I think that the prevalence of the kind of rampant anti-intellectualism represented by Goldberg at high levels in this country will have really adverse consequences soon enough.

Gildberg types can win elections, and Cole types can’t. But Goldberg types are harmful when decision-making needs to be done.

When Cole criticized the election plan a year after he had praised it, the new plan had been changed in ways Cole specified.

The original issue raised by Cole was that Goldberg ridicule a comparison Cole made between the Iran and the Iraq elections. Cole pointed out that Goldberg knew NOTHING aabout the Iran election. He went from there to surmise, accurately IMHO, that Goldberg knows almost nothing about those countries at all.

This reminds me, again, of the Red Chinese telling peasants to ignore the capitalist-road experts build homemade steel mills in their back yards.

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Functional 02.09.05 at 7:06 pm

When Cole criticized the election plan a year after he had praised it, the new plan had been changed in ways Cole specified.

That’s not true, as far as I can tell. As I said, in all of Cole’s responses to Goldberg, he never managed even to mention the fact that he had lavished such praise on the Iraq elections last year, nor that he had compared Iraq’s democratic plans so favorably to Iran. Are you thinking of something he’s written elsewhere? If so, citations and quotations please.

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JRB 02.09.05 at 7:06 pm

“He does suggest, and he’s absolutely right, that when one does not have specialized expertise in a given subject, and in fact has an avowed lack of any knowledge at all of a given subject, one should probably not insist on being taken seriously as a professional commentator on that subject.”

The type of commentary offered by pundits does not rely on the specialised knowledge Juan Cole possesses. Goldberg’s initial comments did not address anything related to Cole’s expertise.

Goldberg’s comments addressed Cole’s pattern of carping and moving goalposts. They did not address much less question his knowledge of Arabic or mideast history. He isn’t bashing Cole’s academic competence, he’s bashing his judgment.

Goldberg complained that Cole was ‘appalled by media cheerleading.’ Not contested by Cole. Re: Iranian vs. Iraqi elections , the sterile facts of both elections have been widely reported in the anglophone media, including all the points mentioned by Cole in defense of his own remark. Goldberg remarks that Cole seems upset that his own advice re: Sistani is being followed by Bush (also accurate, and not addressed by Cole.)

Cole’s acknowledged expertise (in language and history) and Goldberg’s obvious lack thereof is irrelevant to any of Goldberg’s 3 original comments, even to much of what can be considered punditry. To the limited extent Cole’s knowledge of Shi’ism bears on the political issues, his advice has for the most part been followed.

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JRB 02.09.05 at 7:17 pm

I think some self-examination is in order for anyone who isn’t viscerally disturbed by Cole’s rhetoric, whether you agree with his views on Iraq or not. He is the perfect image of why people outside the academy take the academy so unseriously.

True. Cole is routinely demolished on Tony Badran’s blog at beirut2bayside.blogspot.com . Worth reading, and not just for the Cole stuff, I promise.

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Functional 02.09.05 at 7:18 pm

It truly is amazing that Goldberg found an article where Cole made the opposite point last year, and even more amazing that Cole can’t (or won’t) respond. Let me put it this way: Jonah Goldberg could have written his entire original column by filling it with quotes from Juan Cole’s article last year praising Sistani’s election plans and denigrating Iran. And Goldberg’s overall point would have been exactly the same: Cole (version 2005) does not remotely give a satisfactory explanation for why Iraq’s election is such a “disaster” compared to Iran. Which leaves the question: Why is Cole so full of insults towards someone who is merely paraphrasing what Cole himself (version 2004) said?

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JRB 02.09.05 at 7:20 pm

I think some self-examination is in order for anyone who isn’t viscerally disturbed by Cole’s rhetoric, whether you agree with his views on Iraq or not. He is the perfect image of why people outside the academy take the academy so unseriously.

True. Cole is routinely demolished on Tony Badran’s blog. beirut2bayside.blogspot.com . Worth reading, and not just for the Cole stuff, I promise.

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John Emerson 02.09.05 at 9:41 pm

Sorry, guys. Cole enumerated the problems with the recent Iraq elections and sexplained how the Iran election in which Khamenei wa elected was, in those respects, superior. Go to his site, for Christ’s sake. Read everything, from the beginning.

There were specific things wrong with the recent actual election. For wxample, candidates unknown to the voters who couldn’t campaign. These things were not part of the planned election proposed a year ago. Is that so hard to understand? Time had passed, things had changed.

The fact that Goldberg is no worse than most pundits doesn’t comfort me.

“Judgement” here means ideology. Like I said, backyard steel mills.

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Joey 02.09.05 at 11:29 pm

“Sexplained?”

Sounds hot!

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Kevin Donoghue 02.09.05 at 11:43 pm

“But suddenly, as soon as Bush went along with the Iraq election plans, now Cole purports to think that the Iraq election is a “disaster,” and that Iran’s election was much more democratic.”

This is not an accurate summary of Cole’s view. He said, amongst other things, that although it would be impossible to hold satisfactory elections, it would be a bad idea to call them off.

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JRB 02.10.05 at 12:10 am

john emerson, maybe you agree with Cole’s judgment that Iran’s 1997 election was more democratic than Iraq’s recent imperfect poll? I don’t think a reasonable examination of the facts supports this. I don’t even believe Cole thinks so, and I read his site every day and have done for a while.

‘Khamenei ‘ wasn’t elected. Khatami was elected, after having been hand-picked from among 238 candidates to run by Iran’s Guardian Council. He ran against 3 other clerics selected by the same council. Moreover the Iranian president commands no real authority as Khatami’s supporters have learned. Both the Majlis and the presidency are subordinate to the guardians and the infallible supreme leader (khatamei). Sure, it’s a matter of judgment, but if he thinks Iran’s election was ‘more democratic,’ his judgment stinks. I don’t believe for second that he does. I think he was just trying to smear the outcome no matter what and grabbed for a hasty disparaging comparison.

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Functional 02.10.05 at 12:41 am

Cole enumerated the problems with the recent Iraq elections and sexplained how the Iran election in which Khamenei wa elected was, in those respects, superior. Go to his site, for Christ’s sake. Read everything, from the beginning.

I’ve read all of that. None of it seems remotely plausible, for precisely the reasons that Cole himself (version 2004) listed in his article last year. To wit, the “hard line clerics” (his term) decide who gets to stand for election, and then the election is basically meaningless because the clerics still hold all the real power. Cole (version 2005) has NEVER explained his stunning reversal of opinion.

If you can’t read Cole’s 2004 article for yourself, let me summarize: He claimed that Sistani was the equivalent of Rousseau and Jefferson. (!) He hoped that Iraq’s election would be a model for the Middle East, particularly theocratic Iran, where elections don’t mean very much at all.

But we’re supposed to imagine — and “imagine” it is, because Cole certainly doesn’t explain it — that because the Iraqi elections were held without a complete and public list of the candidates, therefore Iran is no longer theocratic. Instead, its elections are “much more democratic,” in Cole’s words.

Bull. I think the real reason that Cole switched sides is that he is determined to oppose anything that Bush supports. Back in 2004, Bush supported one model for the Iraq election, and Sistani supported another model. So Cole wrote an article lavishing praise upon Sistani and lumping the Bush administration in with the “hard liners” in Iran. But by now, Bush agreed to go along with Sistani’s plan. What is Mr. Cole to do? Aha, he’ll switch positions based on transparently specious reasons, and instead argue that Iraq’s election is no big deal; that it is “appall[ing]” that people are praising it; and Iran is “much more democratic.” Upon my word, if Bush announced tomorrow that he was opposed to the Iraq election after all, Cole would suddenly decide that the Iraq election was the greatest thing in the history of the world.

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Eddie Thomas 02.10.05 at 2:22 am

“Goldberg types can win elections, and Cole types can’t. But Goldberg types are harmful when decision-making needs to be done.”

John,

I wasn’t attempting to defend Goldberg on the points (although I think some reasonable claims have been brought up in the comments in his defense), but to criticize the notion that only experts have a legitimate role in public discourse. I suspect you are right that Goldberg’s influence is greater than Cole’s. You seem to draw the conclusion that, since Goldberg is obviously less qualified to give opinions, this is wrong and Goldberg should stick to things he knows well, like his couch.

Goldberg going into retirement, however, is not going to increase Cole’s influence, or even the influence of conservatives in the academy. The crowd drawn to Goldberg (or some similar level pundit on the left) is not going to consider these as replacements. This is not anti-intellectual, though it does point to the lower demands that some make. Democracy ain’t pretty.

What Cole and other experts should be doing is what they usually do, which is influence and guide the more popular writers. Goldberg may not have Cole’s expertise, but he is capable of understanding the points Cole puts forward. For Cole to flaunt his credentials is just silly. He should either ignore Goldberg or argue with him on the points.

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kevin donoghue 02.10.05 at 11:30 am

“[Cole] should either ignore Goldberg or argue with him on the points.”

What he does is to demolish Goldberg’s “point”:

“[Goldberg’s] current response is that once Khatami was elected, he was unable to make substantial changes in Iran. But that was not the issue at debate. The issue was a narrow one. It had to do with the democratic character of the elections themselves, not with the aftermath. We can’t compare the aftermath of the two elections because we don’t know how the situation will evolve in Iraq.”

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kevin donoghue 02.10.05 at 11:37 am

Functional,

Where does Cole say that “Iran is no longer theocratic”?

Although I regularly read Cole, I must have mised that bit. Since you “have read all of that” no doubt you can provide a cite.

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Functional 02.10.05 at 2:45 pm

He doesn’t say that explicitly. But his new position implies it. You have to use your head.

I’ll explain. In the 2004 version of himself, Cole wrote the following:

“Sistani’s position that legitimate government must reflect the will of the sovereign people echoes Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau and Jefferson, and promises a sea change in Middle Eastern politics.”

“Elected parliaments are common in the Middle East, but they often have more of the form than the substance of democracy. . . . In Iran, the clerical Guardianship Council has excluded thousands of candidates from running, including sitting members of parliament.

“In Iran, the electorate is free to vote as it pleases, but candidates themselves must be vetted by the clerical Guardianship Council. That council declared thousands of candidates ineligible to run in elections originally scheduled for late February, questioning their commitment to Islamist ideology. The ruling threw Iran’s politics into chaos, with its reformist President Khatami suggesting elections would be postponed. On February 1, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Islamic revolution, some 40 percent of members of parliament angrily tendered their resignations, raising the stakes in a tense game with their hard line opponents.”

“If the United States insists on stage-managing Iraq’s elections, it will miss a historic opportunity for Iraq to serve as a showcase for democracy that could contrast with Iran’s legacy of authoritarianism and deadlock.”

OK, did you read all of that? Pretty harsh on Iran, no? Iran has a “legacy of authoritarianism and deadlock.” It has more of the “form than the substance of democracy.” And Cole repeatedly emphasizes the theocratic nature of Iran.

Now, have you noticed that in Cole’s latest tirades, he rarely gets around to discussing the actual point of dispute, namely, whether Iran is more democratic than Iraq? And have you noticed that on the one occasion when Cole finally interrupted his ad hominem attacks to address that subject, he suddenly FORGETS to mention that Iran’s elections are, by his earlier account, fairly meaningless? No, suddenly he pretends to believe that Iran is “much more democratic” for a flurry of trivial reasons, such as voter turnout, voter security, and a public list of candidates. He even pretends to suddenly believe that although the hard-line clerics were in control both before and after the 1997 election, this doesn’t matter because there wasn’t much vetting in 1997 and a so-called “liberal” slipped through.

Boil it all down: In 2004, Cole (correctly) recognized that when theocratic clerics control all the real power, both before and after elections, then the elections are merely the “form” and not the “substance” of democracy. And in 2004, Cole said that Iraq should serve as the democratic model for Iran. In 2005, Cole purports to believe the opposite, and that nothing about Iran’s theocracy really matters, because a so-called “liberal” was elected in Iran in 1997.

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Kevin Donoghue 02.10.05 at 6:03 pm

If Cole “rarely gets around to discussing…whether Iran is more democratic than Iraq” then it is hardly surprising that the assertion that “Iran is no longer theocratic” cannot be extracted from his statements.

His position does not imply it. You are not using your head, Functional, you are misrepresenting the man.

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Functional 02.10.05 at 7:37 pm

OK, Kevin, let me put it in simple terms.

Cole, version 2004: Iran is theocratic. It is NOT democratic. Democracy doesn’t work there. Iraq will hopefully be a model.

Cole, version 2005: Never mind what anyone says about Iran being theocratic. They let a so-called “liberal” through! (Never mind that this “liberal” wasn’t given enough power to accomplish anything; let’s just forget about that.) And they had high voter turnout! That’s proof that Iran is more democratic than Iraq!

Again, use your head: Cole 2005 is completely inconsistent with Cole 2004’s insistance that Iran’s theocracy was preventing any real democracy from taking root there. You have a choice: Either Cole 2005 doesn’t believe Iran is really a theocracy anymore, or else he still does secretly believe it but is just lying about Iran in order to be able to bash Iraq.

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Kevin Donoghue 02.10.05 at 8:11 pm

Cole: “The issue was a narrow one. It had to do with the democratic character of the elections themselves, not with the aftermath.”

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Functional 02.10.05 at 8:59 pm

Do you have a point? Or are you just trying to help me emphasize the fact that Cole (version 2005) is blatantly contradicting his 2004 opinion that Iran had the “form” but not the “substance” of democracy?

Sure, if you put on blinders and pretend that all that matters is “the election itself,” you might be fooled into thinking that Iran was democratic. But Cole himself knew better, as of a year ago. It is much more important to consider whether the election is taking place within a system that gives elections any respect or weight.

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Functional 02.10.05 at 9:11 pm

I take that back. Cole wasn’t contradicting his earlier opinion. Rather, he was acknowledging that the Iranian election was more “democratic” only if you focus ONLY on the “election itself,” i.e., on the fact that a bunch of people got together and filled out slips of paper on a particular day. But as I said above, Cole himself is undermining his current pretense that an “election” in an overwhelmingly theocratic country is more “democratic” than the recent election in Iraq.

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JRB 02.10.05 at 9:32 pm

It had to do with the democratic character of the elections themselves, not with the aftermath.

According to Cole’s dippy criteria any of Hussein’s sham elections were more democratic. Security? Check! High turnout? Check! Actual name on the ballot? Yes indeed!

No ‘surprise outcome,’ I guess (why that matters is a mystery.) Still, 3 out of 4!

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Uncle Kvetch 02.10.05 at 9:50 pm

Rather, he was acknowledging that the Iranian election was more “democratic” only if you focus ONLY on the “election itself,” i.e., on the fact that a bunch of people got together and filled out slips of paper on a particular day.

Yes. And we were subjected to a grotesque barrage of smug triumphalism, chest-beating, and “take that’s” from the warhawks after the election, all of it based ONLY on the fact that a bunch of people got together and filled out slips of paper on a particular day. I think that’s Cole’s point, or at least a part of it.

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JRB 02.11.05 at 6:04 am

And we were subjected to a grotesque barrage of smug triumphalism, chest-beating, and “take that’s” from the warhawks…

I’m sure that made you and Juan Cole feel just awful, all that triumphalism.

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Kevin Donoghue 02.11.05 at 8:58 am

Cole: “We can’t compare the aftermath of the two elections because we don’t know how the situation will evolve in Iraq.”

My point: you understand a man’s viewpoint better if you read what he writes.

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x 02.11.05 at 12:52 pm

So if deeper knowledge of a country’s politics is not that important to pass judgement on it and to establish if that judgement has a valid basis, I suppose it is perfectly fine with everyone if some foreign pundit who’s never been to the US, cannot read English fluently, and has never actually bothered to read up extensively on US politics, expressed the view that no Americans are interested in social security, public health care, or any form of welfare at all because they’re all rich and plump and too independent-minded to want any of that even if they needed it. There are bound to be some people for which this will “make sense” and fit in with their ideological framework; so we can discard the little fact it’s totally inaccurate, right?

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Functional 02.11.05 at 2:52 pm

Kevin —

Yes, I read that sentence from Cole. It does nothing to justify his self-contradictions. It was utterly predictable that the 1997 election in Iran would have the “aftermath” of being irrelevant, because as Cole himself acknowledges, the clerics hold all the real power there. How any election could be “democratic” in such circumstances is beyond me.

Cole himself never tries to reconcile his 2005 opinion with his 2004 opinion. If even he, with all his purported expertise, can’t even pretend to justify his switch in positions, why are you being such a flack for him?

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Kevin Donoghue 02.11.05 at 6:15 pm

“It was utterly predictable that the 1997 election in Iran would have the “aftermath” of being irrelevant, because as Cole himself acknowledges, the clerics hold all the real power there.”

Whereas the aftermath of the Iraqi election is not predictable. Cole has considered various possibilities: a weak Iraqi government dependent on American power, an American withdrawal followed by intensified civil war, a state run by laypeople but with sharia law. He does not pretend to know the future. So, being an intelligent man, he restricts his comparison to the elections themselves.

Functional, the contradiction you refer to is the work of an imaginary Juan Cole, a straw man of your own creation, which you are happily chopping to pieces.

IMHO the following statements are all true, and Juan Cole also believes them to be true:

1) Iran has been a theocracy since the overthrow of the Shah.

2) Iran’s last election was conducted in a more orderly manner than Iraq’s election and it produced a result that the mullahs did not desire.

3) Iraq may become a more democratic country than Iran, or it may degenerate into chaos. It is too soon to tell and therefore too soon to celebrate.

Juggle these any way you like; you will not derive from them the proposition that Iran is no longer a theocracy – the ludicrous claim made by your Straw Cole, just so that you can have fun chopping him up.

Chop away. Your only victim is yourself. Slashing straw men is bad for your mental development.

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mp3s 02.15.05 at 6:45 pm

mp3NUT is cool

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