June 13, 2006

Okay, So I Guess He Existed

A few days ago I was invited on to a radio show to discuss the hit on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I tentatively agreed to be interviewed with the caveat that I had visited parts of Iraq where Zarqawi used to live and, um, work, but that I have never been to the places Zarqawi had terrorized lately. I didn't want to be asked any questions from an interviewer who thought I knew more than anyone else who followed the Zarqawi story from far away.

Some people are experts, but I'm not. Thing is, neither are some of the experts. Some "experts" have a real command of the factoids but have a hard time with the basics.

Take Juan Cole, for example. He's supposed to know everything, at least compared with those of us who can't read Farsi (etc.). But he recently said he doubted Zarqawi even existed. (See also here.)

IraqPundit, an Iraqi living in exile, sends him up:
In the wake of the news that Zarqawi had been killed, something that everybody on all sides agreed was accurate, Cole seem to have decided that previous to his death, Zarqawi must have existed after all.
I did not have to visit red zone Iraq to know that Zarqawi existed. Some things you can just trust. I never trusted the existence of Zarqawi quite the same way I trusted the existence of, say, Nebraska. But it never occured to me that Zarqawi might be the Loch Ness Monster or the Bigfoot of the Terror War.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 02:11 AM

Comments

And this is the media darling everyone trusts implicitly on all things concerning the Middle East! I think that MESA should be renamed the Middle Eastern Hystrionics Department with Arabist Hubris Studies, though Robert Spencer and Martin Kramer prefer MESA Nostra....which after reading the above piece, isn't such a bad idea, after all. Keep up the good work, Michael.

Posted by: Jauhara at June 13, 2006 05:58 AM

Yes, Virginia, there was a Zarqawi.

Posted by: Doug Wade at June 13, 2006 07:19 AM

What is Nebraska? I think you are making that up.

Posted by: Fabian at June 13, 2006 07:55 AM

Well, Juan Cole recently lost the bid for the professorship on the contemporary Middle East at Yale. I think the reason had to do with a lack of serious academic work; he does spend an awful lot of time on his extremely partisan blog arrogantly named “Informed Comment.”

Tthe distinguished professor uses his superior knowledge and informed comment about the Middle East to come up with gems of scholarly wisdom like this: "If Israelis want to be a state, they, both genders, should take the criticism like men and stop being crybabies about 'anti-Semitism.'"

This was regarding the recent boycotts against Israeli academics.

Granted his blog is not a part of his academic work, the tone of much of his commentary about Israel and the US tends to be hyperbolic; not something one would expect coming from a supposedly dispassionate academic.

Posted by: semite1973 at June 13, 2006 09:28 AM

Michael,

This post is an example of the "blogosphere" at its absolute worst. For the 1 time that Cole made a sort-of cheeky comment about Zarqawi being a propaganda myth on his BLOG, Cole has been published in maybe 2 dozen or so print media outlets (including many publications that predated that blog post) discussing Zarqawi. Cole had even been compiling - through 2003 and 2004 - background material on Zarqawi and linking to it from his home page at UMich. Andrew Sullivan linked to those "informative" archives last week.

Further, with absolute seriousness, Christopher Hitchens had been publicly declaring Osama bin Laden dead for almost three years between the Afghanistan invasion and the time the OBL tape was released prior to the 2004 election. I wonder when you are going to make a post about Hitchens that mocks him in such a childish way. Or maybe you would just like to admit that you - a self professed journalist - have double standards and target specific people for ridicule.

You yourself have made stupid statements on your blog about Islamic religious symbols. You have freely admitted to "quote" long conversations with people from memory (as you did with the woman you met in Israel). To your credit, you have made corrections for these things, but I cannot remember a single instance when Juan Cole made a post along the lines of "HAHA Michael Totten doesn't know the origins of the 'Hand of Fatima.'"

You can be like a 5 year old some times. I'm not even a fan of Cole, but I can guarantee you that if you were to take the stage with him and debate something to do with the Middle East, even something of your choosing like Lebanon, he would absolutely clean your clock. Get over yourself.

Posted by: Chris at June 13, 2006 10:50 AM

Actually, it's fairly easy to find a large number of statements of error from other leading lights in the bloggodome, like, ferinstance, Glenn Reynolds, who a couple of years ago had semi-daily posts that excitedly declared the discovery of WMDs in Iraq. Unfortunate that they are not examined in the same light as Cole is.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 11:34 AM

Chris,

If Michael and Juan were to go debate about Lebanon I'd put my money on Totten all the way. I think MT is much more informative.

Posted by: semite1973 at June 13, 2006 11:43 AM

If Michael and Juan were to go debate about Lebanon I'd put my money on Totten all the way.

Well, much as I enjoy MJT's blog, I'd put my money on the guy who lived in the Arab world for six years, speaks Arabic and Farsi, is president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in the subject matter.

I mean, jeez, come on already.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 11:51 AM

You forgot Urdu. Cole is also fluent in Urdu and can read Turkish.

Posted by: Chris at June 13, 2006 12:05 PM

Chris: Christopher Hitchens had been publicly declaring Osama bin Laden dead for almost three years between the Afghanistan invasion and the time the OBL tape was released prior to the 2004 election. I wonder when you are going to make a post about Hitchens that mocks him in such a childish way.

Lots of people thought Osama bin Laden was dead. There was reason to think that. He vanished after the Tora Bora raids. It's one thing to be wrong, and another thing to be paranoid and stupid.

Or maybe you would just like to admit that you - a self professed journalist - have double standards and target specific people for ridicule.

When was the last time I ridiculed another blog? Eight months ago? Try to calm down, Chris. It's okay.

Anyway, if I ridiculed Ann Coulter instead of Juan Cole (which would be easy enough to do) would you make the same complaint? That I targeted a specific person for ridicule? Somehow I doubt you would, but tell me if I'm wrong.

I can guarantee you that if you were to take the stage with him and debate something to do with the Middle East, even something of your choosing like Lebanon, he would absolutely clean your clock.

Depends on what the argument was about. I know things he doesn't. And vice versa. You can't learn everything from books, and you can't learn everything from experience and the street. This should be obvious.

Someone like Michael Young would clean both our clocks because he has both kinds of knowledge. (And he thinks Juan Cole is an ignoramus about Lebanon who thinks it's still the mid-1990s in that country, for whatever that's worth to you. Probably not much.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 12:20 PM

Lots of people thought Osama bin Laden was dead.

Lots of people thought that al-Zarqawi's importance and influence were overstated as well.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 12:45 PM

Or maybe you would just like to admit that you - a self professed journalist - have double standards and target specific people for ridicule.

When was the last time I ridiculed another blog? Eight months ago? Try to calm down, Chris. It's okay.
---------------------------------------------------
I don't keep track of when you ridicule other blogs, but I remember the one from August, in which the target was, well, Juan Cole, with your "Fisking Juan Cole".

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/000894.html#pictures

and Cole's response,

http://www.juancole.com/2005/08/fisking-war-on-terror-once-upon-time.html

Posted by: Seth at June 13, 2006 12:57 PM

DPU: Lots of people thought that al-Zarqawi's importance and influence were overstated as well.

Maybe they're right. I don't know. Opinions on this matter are based primarily on what is written on one's voter registration card. Liberals think his influence was overstated. Conservatives don't. These are useless opinions.

The knowledge of Zarqawi's existence, I'm pretty sure, was non-partisan. Even though partisans of one persuasion and not the other will now defend Juan Cole when this error is pointed out to them.

All this is hilarious. Last night I saw a Republican hack on TV defending Ann Coulter's bitchy tirade against the 9/11 widows. I somehow doubt she defended the leftist Ted Rall when he said almost the exact same thing she did. But that's politics for you, and that's why I hate it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 01:17 PM
From your second link to Cole:
Zarqawi leads a social movement of several hundred persons, if he exists at all. If he is killed, the social movement will just go on.
What exactly is objectionable about that? Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 01:42 PM

DPU,

That "if he exists at all" bit is totally off the wall. Juan Cole knows a lot of things that you and I don't know and probably never will, but he does not process information like a normal person. He seems to have absorbed a bit too much of the conspiracy-riddled mindset of the region he studied.

It's an occupational hazard. I absorbed quite a bit of the Lebanese mindset myself, and I still find myself struggling to eject aspects of it that I did not wish to acquire. I believe my writing is free of it (I could be wrong), but my thinking isn't always. Maybe I'll write an essay about this soon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 01:56 PM

It's one thing to make the mistake Hitchens made: thinking that an individual that released videos left and right and then suddenly goes silent for three years might be dead.

It’s another thing to speculate that a well documented individual EVEN EXISTED AT ALL. Doing so without a shred of evidence when suck speculations feed into anti-American conspiracy theories is just despicable.

The two aren’t even remotely comparable.

Posted by: Nick at June 13, 2006 02:00 PM

That "if he exists at all" bit is totally off the wall.

Again, I'm not sure why it's okay for Hitchens to speculate that Bin Laden no longer existed, but Cole cannot do the same with al-Zarqawi. At the time, he hadn't been seen, and there was much speculation that he had died, that he only had one leg and was crippled, that he had left the country because he was at risk. It was well within the realm of speculation that he was a figurehead being kept going for propeganda reasons.

He seems to have absorbed a bit too much of the conspiracy-riddled mindset of the region he studied.

From Cole on Sunday:
The US is sending a forensics team to do an autoposy of Abu Musaba al-Zarqawi. Al-Hayat reports that his family is demanding to know the results [Ar.] , after a local villager at Habhub near Baqubah told a story to a Western wire service and other Western news sources about Zarqawi's death. He says that after the bombing, villagers rushed to the site, and found a survivor, putting him in their ambulance. US troops then arrived, said the villager, and pulled the man out of the ambulance and beat him to a pulp or in one version, strangled him with his headscarf. This story is implausible, but may gain purchase in the Arab world after the Haditha massacre and the news that Guantanamo prisoners were found hanged.
(My bolding) I think that Cole is aware of the conspiracy-mindedness of the region, and maintains a healthy skepticism. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 02:11 PM

About the comparision above between "conservatives" and "liberals" contrasting opinions on the importance of Zarqawi.
I'm not sure how applicable the terminology is anymore,what with half of self-identified conservatives having thrown in the towel on the war. And with conservatives like Mike Schueur
saying Al Qaida BENEFITS from his demise.

But in conventional terms, one must note
the conservatives who are still pro-war
are at protracted disadvantage precluding such
comparisions: they have faith in an Administration whose key members predicted a months-long war at worst, with a new Iraqi government stabilized by end 2003.

Posted by: Ken Hoop at June 13, 2006 03:26 PM

From your second link to Cole:
Zarqawi leads a social movement of several hundred persons, if he exists at all. If he is killed, the social movement will just go on.

What exactly is objectionable about that? Posted by double-plus-ungood

If Cole said that, well, for starters I think it is objectionable that anybody would describe Zaraqwi and his crew as a “social movement” instead of what they are—a blood thirsty terrorist organization. Why on earth would anybody feel the need to dissimulate the nature of Zarqawi’s terrorist network?

And while Cole may be fluent in more languages than most, it doesn’t mean his interpretation of the day’s events are going to be more perceptive than others. In fact, it appears, as somebody wrote, that he has imbibed some of the Middle East conspiracy theory Kool-aid. He certainly doesn’t sound very hinged when the topic is Zionism or the Likud or Neconservatives.

And as stated above, in at least one instant he tried to soften Zarqawi’s image.

Posted by: semite1973 at June 13, 2006 03:31 PM

++, Cole was not doing 'the same with Zarqawi'. He was speculating that the guy was ficticious.

It's nice that he recognizes the 'strangled with a headscarf' story as unlikely, but he's jumped on the Haditha bandwagon. Maybe the Marines will turn out to be guilty, but Time has had to back off of some details of their reporting, and the widely-circulated picture of bound, dead Iraqis predates Haditha. How a few suicides at Guantanamo makes the story of Zarqawi being killed while in captivity more likely is beyond me.

Posted by: bgates at June 13, 2006 03:35 PM

If Cole said that, well, for starters I think it is objectionable that anybody would describe Zaraqwi and his crew as a “social movement” instead of what they are—a blood thirsty terrorist organization.

Your objection is that his terminology not being sufficiently disapproving? Isn't that a bit P.C.?

And while Cole may be fluent in more languages than most, it doesn’t mean his interpretation of the day’s events are going to be more perceptive than others.

Your statement leaves off several reasons that I stated aside from his linguistic abilities, thereby creating the impression that was my sole argument. I urge you to reread my comment.

He certainly doesn’t sound very hinged when the topic is Zionism or the Likud or Neconservatives.

That may be an interesting topic of discussion, but it has nothing to do with the topic of this discussion.

And as stated above, in at least one instant he tried to soften Zarqawi’s image.

The most generous thing that could be said about that is that it is poor mindreading. Cole is on record as being very much opposed to terrorist tactics and thiose who would use them, as well as being repeatedly on record as thinking that the fundamentalists are goons and thugs.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 03:53 PM

How a few suicides at Guantanamo makes the story of Zarqawi being killed while in captivity more likely is beyond me.

He very clearly didn't say that it made it more likely.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 03:55 PM

Michael noted an Iraqi quoting Juan Cole's statements doubting that Zarqawi ever existed at all. For this, double-plus and chris have attacked Michael for not knowing as many languages as Cole, roped in Christopher Hitchens and Glenn Reynolds to attack them too, called Michael a five-year old -- a child, in other words -- and said that even if Zarqawi did in fact exist he really wasn't very important.

Why don't the members of this tag-team go after the Iraqi? What's stopping you there? Or Omar, of Iraq the Model? Take a shot (so to speak).

Posted by: Todd Grimson at June 13, 2006 04:57 PM

Your objection is that his terminology not being sufficiently disapproving? Isn't that a bit P.C.?

Look, if Zaraqawi and his ilk aren’t terrorists, than nobody is; but we know there is such a thing as terrorism and terrorists. If Cole can’t see that, his moral compass is screwed up. It leads one to wonder what else Cole is wrong about.

Now, inasmuch as we were talking about Juan Cole, why is it all of a sudden a problem if I add that his views on Israel, Zionists and Likud, et cetera are a little whacked? We were talking about Cole, about his comments on Zarqawi, others added Hitchens’ name to the debate, and somebody else added Cole’s linguistic gifts… I add one other point about the man and all of a sudden, “it has nothing to with the topic of this discussion.”

Not directly, perhaps, but indirectly. Excuse me for getting too far off track…that was double plus not good of me to have gone off track.

Posted by: semite1973 at June 13, 2006 05:10 PM

For this, double-plus and chris have attacked Michael for not knowing as many languages as Cole...

Excuse me, I haven't attacked anyone.

...roped in Christopher Hitchens and Glenn Reynolds to attack them too...

Nor have they been attacked. It has been pointed out that others have occasionally gotten things wrong, yet they have not been subjected to the same criticism levelled at Cole. That is not an attack.

...called Michael a five-year old...and said that even if Zarqawi did in fact exist he really wasn't very important.

Where did I call Michael anything? And where did I say that Zarqawi was not important?

I don't think you're reading these comments very carefully, that is a large number of errors to make.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 05:14 PM

Todd,

Some people think it's inappropriate to criticize an elite professor even when he is obviously wrong. (Notice how no one here says Juan Cole was right.)

Some people also think you're automatically right-wing if you criticize a single leftist for any reason, even when the leftist in question is obviously wrong.

It's a combination of sneering elitism and the "football game" political mentality.

I think that about sums it up. It doesn't matter that Juan Cole was wrong and that I am right.

We're all right. We all know Juan Cole was wrong. That isn't the issue here.

Some people must exist in a state of permanent antagonism with those who don't agree with them about everything, even when disagreement does not exist at a given moment about a certain topic.

Juan Cole gets a lot of things right. I'm not going to give him a bunch of crap when he's right. Only when he's wrong. Some people operate differently.

DPU doesn't usually play this game with me, and I don't think what I just wrote applies to him. So we can still be friends.

Chris, though, routinely argues with me about the silliest of topics. Several times he accused me of leaving out important details that were not, in fact, left out at all. It shows that he does not even read what I write. He just reacts to a caricature of me that he invented in his own head. He responds to what he thinks I wrote without actually reading and comprehending it. Not much you can do with such people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 05:21 PM

Look, if Zaraqawi and his ilk aren’t terrorists, than nobody is; but we know there is such a thing as terrorism and terrorists. If Cole can’t see that, his moral compass is screwed up. It leads one to wonder what else Cole is wrong about.

Are you under the impression from the single quote that I posted that Cole has never called Zarqawi a terrorist? Why would you make such an enormous leap in logic?

From today's blog alone: The Zarqawi terror group in Iraq has named a successor on the internet, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. ... The Jordanian regime and the majority of the Jordanian public despised Zarqawi as a terrorist who killed fellow Muslims in the hotel bombings in Amman. ... Zarqawi would just have been a serial killer if he had lived in normal times... That anyone at all, much less a highly educated intellectual, could speak of him in these glowing terms sends chills down my spine. Because it means he has a legacy. ... Baghdad citizens had to walk on Friday, as a ban on vehicle traffic was enforced to stop any campaign of car bombings by supporters of the slain terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The fact that these erroneous assumptions are being made is simply fueling the impression that the critcisms are based more on preconceptions than actual problems with his blog.

And, of course, it demands the question that if you're wrong about that, what else are you wrong about?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 05:23 PM

DPU: The fact that these erroneous assumptions are being made is simply fueling the impression that the critcisms are based more on preconceptions than actual problems with his blog.

It's a common problem.

You're pretty good about avoiding it, and that makes you a much more pleasant debating opponent.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 05:27 PM

It's a common problem.

Ah, but I read your blog carefully every day. I think that very few of Cole's critics actually read his. For example, there is a consistent impression among many of his critics that he is soft of al-Sadr, yet he HATES al-Sadr.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 05:32 PM

DPU: Ah, but I read your blog carefully every day.

I know you do. It shows, and I appreciate it. That's why we're online friends of sorts and Chris and I are not and won't be.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 05:35 PM

I know you do. It shows, and I appreciate it.

We'll see how much you appreciate it when I publish my 10,000 word blog post entitled "All the things Michael Totten Has Gotten Wrong in the Last Four Years." I've been bookmarking them as I run across them.:-)

Thanks for the kind words.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 05:59 PM

++, I should have been more clear. I was responding to Cole's suggestion that the story of Zarqawi being killed would be more believable to Arabs after the suicides at Guantanamo. Cole may well be right that people think that way, but I couldn't follow their logic.

It's not 'poor mindreading' to say that Cole's description of Zarqawi's band of thugs as a 'social movement' constitutes softening Z's image. 'Social movement' is a positive sounding phrase, the wikipedia entry for which is adorned with a picture of Martin Luther King. It may well be true that a close reader of Cole will form a different opinion of how Cole views terrorists. Nonetheless, in at least that one instance, he softened their image.

I'm glad I could convince you that Hitchens and Cole were doing different things.

Posted by: bgates at June 13, 2006 06:45 PM

Cole may well be right that people think that way, but I couldn't follow their logic.

Sometimes people need very little reason to believe the worst, and I think that is what Cole was getting at. And for confirmation, you just need to read a few Iraqi blogs.

It's not 'poor mindreading' to say that Cole's description of Zarqawi's band of thugs as a 'social movement' constitutes softening Z's image. 'Social movement' is a positive sounding phrase, the wikipedia entry for which is adorned with a picture of Martin Luther King.

Or he could have been being dismissive of their politics and tactics. But either way, the description of Zarqawi as a serial killer leaves little doubt as to how Cole feels about the man.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 13, 2006 07:04 PM

I never trusted the existence of Zarqawi quite the same way I trusted the existence of, say, Nebraska.

Whoa, hold on there Michael. Can you prove Nebraska exists? I have it on good authority that your so-called "Nebraska" is actually just Iowa (they change the signs when no one's looking). It's all part of a psy-op.

Posted by: TallDave at June 13, 2006 07:12 PM

As for Cole, he's a fact-challenged Arabist propagandist with a weird predilection for conspiracy theories. Its amazing he's taken seriously at all anymore, after his "9/11 was inspired by Jenin" howler (which he then tried to hide), his prediction that the United States was lying about holding elections and would install a frendly dictator instead, his implication that ITM was a CIA front, his well-documented translation problems, and his public expression of doubt as to whether Zarqawi existed. There was absolutely zero basis in fact for any of those. The guy is a poster child for foot-in-mouth disease.

His appointment to Yale was smacked down by what is normally a rubber-stamp committee for good reason. I would wager any halfway sensible person in this thread who reads the news on a regular basis could knock him out easily in a debate.

Posted by: TallDave at June 13, 2006 07:29 PM

Chris: "I'm not even a fan of Cole, but I can guarantee you that if you were to take the stage with him and debate something to do with the Middle East, even something of your choosing like Lebanon, he would absolutely clean your clock. Get over yourself."

Like it or not, even George W. Bush has far more firsthand knowledge regarding the war in Iraq (and more) than any of us, but no one's asking you or anyone else to regard him with due reverence or to refrain from questioning his sanity or intelligence.

Cole is harshly criticized by many bloggers due to a long string of ridiculous remarks he's made on his blog. His expertise doesn't exempt him from having to earn people's respect for his opinions and for his moral judgement.

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at June 13, 2006 07:57 PM

Again, I'm not sure why it's okay for Hitchens to speculate that Bin Laden no longer existed, but Cole cannot do the same with al-Zarqawi.

It's very simple. Thinking someone doesn't exist is very different than thinkng someone is dead. The former is tinfoil territory, the latter is not.

I like the way you phrased it though-- Hitchens thinks Osama "no longer exists". Therefore it must be ok if Cole doesn't think Zarqawi exists! See, no difference! lol!

Really nice try, dude.

Posted by: Carlos at June 13, 2006 10:26 PM

Just when I decide this discussion is so ridiculous I never should have written about it at all, Carlos makes me laugh.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 13, 2006 10:36 PM

When will people learn ? How can I beleive the news published by biased mainstream media that was originated always from the single source that is CIA/US Army/Bush Administration. How can I beleive in chronic liars.Every statements from Washington, I will aways take it with the gain of salt.

Posted by: Topo at June 13, 2006 10:42 PM

Thank you Michael for continuing to provide an oasis of considered thought in the web. And thank you again Michael and you Mr. Double Plus guy for providing an example in this comment thread on how to disagree while still communicating.

I am loathe to read the comments section of most blogs, even blogs that have a more moderate tone in the main post area. The problem is they are loaded with nicknames like "rethugs" or "moonbats" and partisan digs at anyone who might disagree. It all becomes kind of one note after awhile. This applies especially to any conversation that includes the Middle East, Muslims, Jews, Christians or the American Military. I seem to recall that it was more common at one time to discuss such things intelligently, even with strong partisan difference, without implying that the person who disagreed with you was a nut, a moron or a threat to the country. Maybe that's just wishful thinking...

Anyway, sorry to get on my soapbox about people on soapboxes, but I just wanted to say thank you for providing a good place to discuss some very difficult topics. OK, I'll stop now and try not to invade with all this Kumbaya talk again...

Posted by: Tony S at June 14, 2006 12:14 AM

More Uninformed Comments on the person who may or may not have existed.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 14, 2006 12:20 AM

Go visit Topo's blog for an example of the Middle East Reality Distortion Field™.

If you're looking for "root causes" I think that's it.

Posted by: Yafawi at June 14, 2006 12:28 AM

test

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2006 01:14 AM

Yafawi, you diverted from the subject that I wrote, meaning you agree with what I said but is ashamed to admit? Thanks anyway for promoting my blog. The more bigots visit my blogsite the better, cause I provide a mirror in which they can see their true faces..shalom....

Posted by: Topo at June 14, 2006 01:47 AM

I suspect Topo's blog is a hoax to make leftists look stupid.

Lord knows I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. Any of you remember this one and this one? Topo reminds me of those.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2006 02:00 AM

Yafawi, you diverted from the subject that I wrote, meaning you agree with what I said but is ashamed to admit? Thanks anyway for promoting my blog. The more bigots visit my blogsite the better, cause I provide a mirror in which they can see their true faces..shalom....

Posted by: Topo at June 14, 2006 02:02 AM

This was probably the funniest blog hoax ever. Click the link and spend an hour laughing your ass off.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2006 02:03 AM

Does it hurts you Totten when reading my blogs. No, I don't mean to hurt anybody, just speaking up the fact you don't want to hear. By the the way you sound like one of those Lieberman schoolars, right wing zionist pig pretending to be a leftist.

Posted by: Topo at June 14, 2006 05:03 AM

Topo: "How can I beleive the news published by biased mainstream media that was originated always from the single source that is CIA/US Army/Bush Administration."

That only used to be true. The people who used to do it have now all been let go because of US Dept budget cuts. The news is now outsourced to foreign countries were it can be created at only half the cost. I understand its a growth industry in other parts of the world.

Posted by: johnny eck at June 14, 2006 06:56 AM

I'm not even a fan of Cole, but I can guarantee you that if you were to take the stage with him and debate something to do with the Middle East, even something of your choosing like Lebanon, he would absolutely clean your clock. Get over yourself."

Cole has a comments section on his site, and he regularly deletes any comment that disagrees with him in any way. I don't think he can handle debate.

I know this because I've disagreed with him often, and I've offered curse-and abuse-free proof that he's wrong (with links and everything). My comments never appear. Neither do the comments of other, relatively polite dissenters.

Nearly every popular blogger has had to edit their comments section, but most see polite dissent as a way to encourage an interesting debate. Cole doesn't. I have to guess that this is because Cole can't handle any form of disagreement or debate. Even DPU-style debate is censored from his blog. When he is openly challenged by other bloggers, he panics, deletes his own posts from his site and begs the Kos kids to help him.

Cole is a sad, silly person. His only appeal is that he tells some people what they want to hear.

Posted by: mary at June 14, 2006 09:15 AM

Cole has a comments section on his site, and he regularly deletes any comment that disagrees with him in any way. I don't think he can handle debate.

I believe you guest-blog at a site that frequently bans delightful commenters that disagree with the host, Mary, so that may not be the best tactic to use in a Cole slapdown.

Even DPU-style debate is censored from his blog.

While I'm delighted that I now have a commenting style associated with niceness named after me, I should remind you that particular style got me banned at the aforementioned blog.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 14, 2006 09:58 AM

While I'm delighted that I now have a commenting style associated with niceness named after me, I should remind you that particular style got me banned at the aforementioned blog.

Just to nitpick. The use of the word "aforementioned" implies that the fore-mentioned object was mentioned by name

Cole doesn't ban commenters as far as I can tell, but he never allows any dissenting words to see the light of day. Most bloggers allow the dissenters to have their say for awhile before banning them or deleting comments. Cole doesn't.

I'm not saying that this use of selective editing is better or worse than others, I'm just saying that it implies that Cole avoids debate. His actions indicate that he knows his weakness, and now we know his weakness too.

Posted by: mary at June 14, 2006 10:23 AM

I suspect Topo's blog is a hoax to make leftists look stupid.

With his calls for more killing of Americans, his conspiracy theories and his celebration of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, he looks to me more like a Jihadi himself than a leftist.

Posted by: Josh Schoalr at June 14, 2006 10:39 AM

Not to mention his adultation of Al Qaeda

Note what he said about this Al Qaeda man:
Abu Jandal, a former Bin Laden’s closest bodyguard now living in Yemen. Abu Jandal is a man of dignity, a brave man who risk his life for what he believe

One reason that Jihadis can be mistaken for leftist is that in their economic opinions they are somewhat left. Qtub wasn't Adam Smith.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 14, 2006 10:50 AM

The use of the word "aforementioned" implies that the fore-mentioned object was mentioned by name.

No it doesn't. It referes to "the blog" that I mentioned above. I'd rather kleep the name out of it.

I'm just saying that it implies that Cole avoids debate. His actions indicate that he knows his weakness, and now we know his weakness too.

Well, I have to agree that Cole is sometimes fairly thin-skinned, and often comes across as pompous. There are also stories that he has modified posts after the fact, which is an ethical no-no in bloggostan.

But look at Francis W. Porretto abruptly shutting down his comment section a few weeks ago when some polite commenters were doing a decent job in critiquing his views on Christianity and wealth. Or the blog-that-shall-remain-nameless that consistently bans polite-yet-dissenting commenters. Also very thin-skinned. It's probably a trueism that certain personality types that are drawn to blogging are desperate that others see them as smart guys, and therefore react poorly when effectively challenged. That would include Cole, IMO, but also a large number of others on both the left and right.

It's to your credit that you haven't ever banned my gadfly ass from your blog, Mary, I've been pretty unrelenting over the years. And kudos to you as well, Michael, you have many regulars who strongly disagree with your views on certain subjects, yet you hold your own, and I know that you loath banning anyone, even the worst trolls.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 14, 2006 10:56 AM

Juan Cole is a disgusting piece of crap.

Posted by: Stankleberry at June 14, 2006 11:18 AM

My problem with Juan Cole is that he pontificates all about the history of Iraq and the Iraqi people. Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model took his historical view of Iraq and tore it to shreds by showing how almost every fact Juan Cole cited was false and they gave chapter and verse to do it. If you go back in their archives you will find a couple of postings where they absolutely tore Juan Cole to pieces for what he had to say about Iraq. It even came donwn to fisking the translations from Arabic that he made as being totally wrong.

He strikes me as being a lot like Noam Chomsky in that he makes the statements he wishes were true and just acts as if they were. Then when he cites his facts he cites the statements that he made. If those statements were false, which Iraq the Model shows they were, then the whole rest of what he had to say is questionable. What does he doe then? He just blithely goes forth still pontificating as if nobody dared to question his statements. The man is a blithering idiot. Unless he takes on those who question his citations, then why should we pay any attention to what he has to say. He has been wrong so many times that he makes Robert Fisk seem rational.

Posted by: dick at June 14, 2006 12:33 PM

Well, I wouldn't go that far....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 14, 2006 12:41 PM

I know I am entering this discussion a bit late, nevertheless, I wanted to stick in my two cents.
Michael, your reply yesterday at 5:13PM is part of what makes me coming back here every day. You can stick up for yourself and be rational as well.
Also, I am beginning to wonder, did DPU become a little more toned down after that complement you gave him, I don't mean to be boring I just couldn't help but notice that DPU continued posting, but with a lighter tone, and Chris just bolted out the side door.

Posted by: Brooklyn at June 14, 2006 01:06 PM

I just couldn't help but notice that DPU continued posting, but with a lighter tone,...

You thought I had a not-lighter tone before? Where?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 14, 2006 01:49 PM

Brooklyn,

If by "bolted out the side door" you mean "has a full time job and limited amounts of time to read/respond," then you are correct that I "bolted out the side door."

But, to be honest, after reading most of the comments I don't really know what to say. My point that Cole has been - for over two years - compiling archives about Zarqawi on his website went untouched. As did my point about the dozens of opeds discussing Zarqawi that he's authored for some pretty legit publications. You can cherry-pick 10 month old quotes from his blog if you like, but it's not like Cole has been going around shouting "Zarqawi isn't real" from the rooftop, which is what the original blogger was insinuating, and what Michael was insinuating by linking to him. Granted, everything on the internet is in print forever and easy to cite, but for some reason holding Cole's feet to the flame on this one seems like holding Madeline Albright's feet to the flame for the toungue-in-cheek remark she made in either a green room or off-the-record dinner party about Osama, Rove and a "November surprise." Take a look around Cole's site. You'll find plenty of anti-US arabist spinning, but you'll also find plenty of reality-based acceptance of the (former) existance of Zarqawi.

Michael and the original poster come off as awful petty, immature and childish in this one- going out of their way to insult and pick a fight with a guy who has devoted so much of himself (at a great personal and professional cost) to make a substantial contribution to the "blogosphere." I'll cop to being childish and immature, as well, but I'll draw and defend the distinction between being the author of a blog post and an angry commentor.

Posted by: Chris at June 14, 2006 02:07 PM

Chris: I'll cop to being childish and immature

Okay, we're even then. I copped to being lazy, mentally exhausted, and writing a filler post.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 14, 2006 02:29 PM

It does seem like a waste. Filler, good point though, light blow. What ignorance! Cole made a mistake who ever he is! What a joke! So many people represent him! The fables continue no matter who it hurts! One thing Abu is dead and he trained in Afghanistan and now Abu is the new leader. Abu-(Mohammed)! people like Cole are playing a dangerous game for it is like the boy who cried wolf!

Posted by: Peg at June 14, 2006 04:29 PM

Cole knew that Zarqawi existed as his own writings demonstrate.
But he suggested Zarqawi didn't exist so that he could zing Bush.
It's a wonderful example of what's wrong with Cole.

Posted by: maor at June 15, 2006 05:07 AM

I suspect Topo's blog is a hoax to make leftists look stupid.

lmao! The best parody is where you can hardly tell the difference. That is some amazing parody. Or is it?

Posted by: Carlos at June 15, 2006 01:53 PM

Carlos, as I posted before, I don't see any sign that Topo is left as opposed to Jihadi.

Do you have any evidence?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2006 03:59 PM

Topo has a picture of Hugo Chavez on this blog in place of a portrait of himself. Huge Chavez is an infidel.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 15, 2006 04:21 PM

Looks like Topo is yet another sockpuppet of someone who desperately needs a living leftist strawman.

Someone needs counselling, I think.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 15, 2006 04:43 PM

Topo has a picture of Hugo Chavez on this blog in place of a portrait of himself.

I knew that picture was some kind of joke, but I didn't recognize who it was.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2006 07:38 PM

Looks like Topo is yet another sockpuppet of someone who desperately needs a living leftist strawman

I wouldn't jump to conclusions.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 15, 2006 07:40 PM

By the way, the Al-Zarqawi wasn't real theory has considerable traction here in Europe. Several big papers and websites have links to "thoughts" on that subject. I'll dig up some links, but Pravda is one for sure.

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