February 18, 2007

Unreliable

Martin Kramer busts Juan Cole. (Thanks to Noah Pollak.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 10:18 AM
Comments

Martin Kramer does not have any credibility as an academic. He is a rabid Zionist and a racist. He failed miserably in his own career so he spends most of his time slandering respected academics like Juan Cole. He is pathetic.

Posted by: Jay at February 18, 2007 11:26 AM

Jeepers, I rely on you and Cole heavily for deep coverage on the Middle East. You because you go there and Cole because he relies on the primary local sources, which are largely ignored by mainstream media.

Historically I've tended to think attacks on the credibility of either of you are evidence of a hidden agenda.

Thus, the above is disturbing.

Posted by: Tim Bray at February 18, 2007 11:44 AM

Jay, you accused Martin Kramer of "slandering" Juan Cole without addressing the substance of what Kramer wrote after you yourself slandered Kramer as a racist with no evidence whatsoever. You're going to have to do better than that if you want adults to take you seriously.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 11:45 AM

Tim Bray: Historically I've tended to think attacks on the credibility of either of you are evidence of a hidden agenda.

I don't view "attacks" on myself this way, so I don't suggest you do either. I'm not right about everything, and most people who attack me do so because they disagree with my opinions and are rather up front about their reasons for doing so.

Martin Kramer doesn't have a hidden agenda against Juan Cole. Kramer thinks Cole is often wrong on the facts, and he calls him on it. Both Kramer and Cole are academics, and this is what academics are supposed to do to each other.

Thanks for the support, by the way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 11:50 AM

Poor Jay. He remembered the pre-packaged line, only he forgot whom it's supposed to cover! Hell, all them Jews are the same! Pipes, Kramer, makes no difference. "He failed miserably in his career"!? Really!?

And here's an advice, you know for the next time you want to regurgitate the pre-packaged line. When you are accusing someone of slandering someone else, you should pay attention to two things: 1- one that the person you're attacking actually engaged in slander. And 2- that you don't slander the person you're accusing of slander, such as throwing around words like "racist" and such.

Now go back and relearn your lesson so that you can go and hang around comment sections to regurgitate them and show the world how much of a brainless jackass you really are.

Posted by: Tony at February 18, 2007 01:36 PM

Poor Jay, indeed. His worst piling on here comes from a man who hails from a country that is supposedly at war with Israel.

Find a new narrative, Jay.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 01:47 PM

Tony,

Remind me not to piss you off, or you for that matter Michael! That's about as thorough a take as I've ever seen. BTW, Michael, thanks for the recommendation about Michael Oren's book. Excellent!

Posted by: Chad at February 18, 2007 02:21 PM

Takedown is what I meant to write above.

Just read the Arabic line myself, and it says exactly what Kramer says it does. Does this mean I "command" Arabic better than Cole? Oops, shouldn't have said that...Jay might accuse me of rabid Zionism and racism.

Posted by: Chad at February 18, 2007 02:35 PM

Jay, you gave Pacifica's well known "flagship program" "Democracy Now!" as your website. Are you really affiliated with "Democracy Now!" or do you just appropriate other people's work and authority whenever you post a comment?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at February 18, 2007 04:01 PM

Don't see what the big fuss is about; it is a factual piece, plain and simple.

Posted by: Jeha at February 18, 2007 06:04 PM

Tony and Jeha are both apparently rabid Zionists from Lebanon. Funny world we live in.

Have you two forgotten your own prepackaged lines? :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 06:46 PM

Did you guys actually read the report?!??!
The report literally claimed " that he is present near the Iraq-Iranian border in the AlAhwaz region"
AlAhwaz is generally accepted as being in Iran,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahwaz
There is no question that is what the Hayat meant,
the map references another area, this is the correct map:
http://www.satelliteviews.net/cgi-bin/w.cgi?c=ir&FC=&DG=&AF=P_A&FD=ahw&sdb=Go

Posted by: M. S. at February 18, 2007 06:49 PM

"They are in an area of Iraq that borders Iran and which serves as a smuggling route between the two countries, which may have given rise to the idea that Muqtada was on his way to Iran. He more likely is holed up in the marshes. This is the most plausible story I have seen yet on Muqtada's disappearance."

from juancole.com

Doesn't seem that big of a deal to me. I would actually agree that if Sadr is at the border he's right at the border, than he's more likely to be on the Iraqi side given that he's

A) an Iraqi
B) has supporters there

Posted by: NM at February 18, 2007 08:09 PM

NM, you are missing the point that Cole's exagguration was obviously aimed at enhancing Sadr's prestige. That sort of thing is in character for Cole, though isn't it. He's strangely concerned with spinning for the worst people.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at February 18, 2007 08:26 PM

Josh Scholar,

I don't see the above at all trying to enhance Sadr's prestige. It seems to me anyway that Cole was disputing the certainty that Sadr was in Iran.

Personally, seeing the headline "Sadr flees to Iran" gives me the image that he's hiding in Tehran keeping company with high level government officials. If the Al-Hayet article is correct, than at best he's only a few miles inside Iran and at worst he's still in Iraq.

Posted by: NM at February 18, 2007 09:01 PM

"Only a few miles inside Iran" is kind of like being a little bit pregnant. Doesn't matter if he's ten miles in or 500 if he's in.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 09:09 PM

I have been literally on the border between Iraq and Iran, six inches from Iran. But I was still in Iraq. If I stepped across that line it would have been a big deal if an Iranian soldier saw me.

If Sadr is ten miles inside Iran he certainly left Iraq a lot more completely than I did.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2007 09:12 PM

What an ugly thread. Cole mistranslates an article to spin for Sadr, and the first post ignores the fact that the post consisted of nothing more than a factual correction - either there was a mistranslation or their wasn't - and attacks the source as "rabid Zionist" "racist", "pathetic" "miserab[e]" "failed academic", and called a simple correction of fact "slander"

He only forgot to write "dirty Jew"

The only question left is whether he really is associated with "Democracy Now!" to their shame or whether he's such a loser that he's stealing other people's web sites and claiming them as his own.

Then we get "NM" missing all of the context and saying that it doesn't matter if Cole deliberately mistranslated an article, because the mistranslation may or may not place Sadr far from his actual position, and that the politically important question of whether Sadr is in the country of Iran doesn't matter because he might be near to the border.

There's nothing useful about this discussion. We're arguing with a bigot and an idiot.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at February 18, 2007 09:39 PM

Nobody seems to actually know where al-Sadr is.

So, isn't where you say he is a good measure of your biases?

Posted by: alphie at February 19, 2007 02:45 AM

To M.S.: The text doesn't say Ahwaz--it says Al-Ahwar, the marshes.

Posted by: Marshes at February 19, 2007 02:59 AM

Alphie,

The degree to which a person is willing to mis-translate and distort existing evidence in order to achieve a better "spin" on the story is CERTAINLY an indicator of unreliability.

The discussion is about what the news report SAYS, and the reliability of a pundit whose claim on our attention is based on a supposed will and ability to accurately translate reports from Arab sources like this one.

Posted by: Zvi at February 19, 2007 03:12 AM

Regardless of who is right how does it change the fact that Al-Sadr had split?

Even if he tries to stay on Iraqi side in the marshes, it is just quick hop to Iranian side.

Posted by: leo at February 19, 2007 06:19 AM

I just did copy-paste translation through Google
http://translate.google.com/translate_t

Here is what I got:

Source:
"
وعلمت «الحياة» من مصادر مطلعة ان الصدر وعدداً كبيراً من قادة «جيش المهدي» موجودون على الحدود العراقية - الايرانية، في منطقة الأهوار، التي كانت ملجأ الجهات المعارضة للنظام السابق٠
"

Translation:

"
Al sources said that al-Sadr and a number of Kep Lira leaders located on the border pw high-Iranian, in the marsh area, that was the refuge of the opposition to the former regime 0
"

Posted by: leo at February 19, 2007 06:30 AM

Woops.

THere were few things dropped during post because they were interpereted as HTML tags:

'life' - in Al 'life' sources

and

'Mahdi Army' - in leaders 'Mahdi Army' located

<testing, testing, testing ...>

Posted by: leo at February 19, 2007 06:36 AM

The comments here remind me of the Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing". People talk a lot without much background knowledge of Cole or Kramer.

Juan Cole is an idiot, who proved himself an ass on many occasions. This particular instance is nothing relative to all the crap that he disseminates.

In fact, I myself had an "exchange" with him, in which I link to other opinions about him.

As to Kramer, he shouldn't let Cole clean his toilet.

JUAN COLE: PROFESSOR OF REWRITING HISTORY
with Fabian Pascal

A lot is being made these days about the “intellectual stature” of Juan Cole and the efforts against his being hired by Harvard University. Then this:

The Cole Report. When it comes to Iran, he distorts, you decide

Juan Cole is 10th rate...he is the embodiment of the mediocre...his sentences are syntactical train wrecks...it's illiteracy, simply

Hitch vs. Cole

So here is in an old exchange with him where I challenged some of his arguments on the Middle East.

From: FP
To: Juan Cole

Have you ever heard of logic? [not to mention history].

It's hard to believe that a purported academic expert on the middle east can make the absurd argument that "if Syria is supposed to leave Lebanon, why not Israel from Gaza and West Bank". Did ever Lebanon threaten the existence of Syria? Or fought to destroy it? Do you happen to recall the circumstances under which the territories were occupied by Israel? Were the circumstances of Syrian occupation anywhere near those?

You are an arabist pure and simple.

From: Juan Cole

Yes, the Syrians invaded Lebanon because they believed it had become a threat to their existence.

The circumstance under which Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank was a war which the inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank did not declare, and over the course of which they never had any say. I don't believe there was even any serious terrorism coming from those territories in 1966 and 1967.

From: FP

And the Soviet government believed itself to be democratic. Give me a break. Lebanon a threat to Syria's existence? How exactly? Syria was and is a dictatorship and if they claim they were threatened, you just accept that at face value?

Unbelievable. 1984-style history rewriting.

Israel was attacked by Egypt and Jordan and it occupied the territories rebutting the attack WHICH EXPLICITLY AND PHYSICALLY THREATENED ITS EXISTENCE!!!! Had nothing to do with terrorism, although even then there was some. I know, because I lived there.

At that time Gaza was under Egypt and the West-Bank under Jordan. So if you want to blame anybody for the lack of say of those populations, blame those two governments, as well as all Arab governments who wanted nothing to do with and for [those populations that were later labeled] Palestinians [as a new nation to replace Israel]. They owned those lands and didn't do anything for those populations for decades because they preferred to have the refugee camps as breeding grounds for enemies of Israel. They were more interested in exterminating the state of Israel than providing those populations with a decent life/country of their own (see In a Ruined Country).

So please.

Note: First, the territories were occupied in response to a war initiated by the Arab countries intent on destroying Israel. They lost so, in principle, the territories are spoils of an imposed war of extermination and, in principle, Israel does not have to return them. Second, Israel would have returned them right away in exchange for recognition and peace. So, whatever moral corruption has developed in Israeli policies over the years, the Arab states and the Palestinians ensured it by rejecting a two-state solution, and by constantly demonstrating murderous intentions. It is that which maintained the occupation with its inherent morally corrosive character, and the Arab side has mainly itself to blame for it.

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 02:10 PM

Last week I was listening to a Wisconsin Public Radion program. A female guest, a head of some legal institute (I forgot her name and title), was painting Iran in as best a light she could while painting the US in the most nefarious. The host asked her about Ahmadinejad’s remarks about destroying Israel and the guest replied that Juan Cole proved Ahmadinejad didn’t actually call for Israel to be destroyed. Later in the program an Iranian called in. He said, “I speak fluent Farsi, and I will tell you that Ahmadinejad vowed to destroy Israel that time, and many, many other times …”

Josh Scholar is right; Juan Cole has an amazing tendency to shill for the most unsavory characters. He is also hysterically anti-Israel. Not just critical, but hysterical. He calls Likud fascists, etc.

Posted by: Zak at February 19, 2007 02:43 PM

He is also a fool, an ignorant, an ant-semite and absurd conspiracy theorist. If you search trhough Kramer's site, there are several documentations of him making idiotic claims and then deleting them from his site. They are worth the entertainment.

Yale knew pretty well why they rejected him.

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 02:48 PM

Speaking of wacademics, I tried to engage Prof. Robert Jensen in a discussion about Israel and its right to exist. If anybody is interested, here's how it went:

A letter to Jensen : http://semite1973.blogspot.com/2005/09/letter-to-prof-robert-jensen.html

Part II
http://semite1973.blogspot.com/2005/09/letter-to-professor-jensen-part-ii.html

Part III
http://semite1973.blogspot.com/2005/09/jensen-dialoguedebate-over.html

Posted by: Zak at February 19, 2007 02:51 PM

Zak,

I used to believe myself in exchanges. I don't anymore (and I hate the likes of Cole and Jensen for bringing me to that situation).

When academics who are supposed to base their arguemnts on knowledge and reason fail so miserably, any attempt of a dialogue is a waste of time. And what can we then expect of the average person? Particularly if whatever education he/she gets is from these profs?

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 03:17 PM

I hear ya FP, but I just had to take him to task, I just had to ...

I guess, if anything, the exchange made me feel better.

Posted by: Zak at February 19, 2007 03:20 PM

well, ignorance and inability to reason are sad things which don't make feel better. but you'll have all your life to learn that.

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 03:27 PM

Juan Cole, supposedly: Syrians invaded Lebanon because they believed it had become a threat to their existence.

That is absolutely completely and utterly false. Syria invaded Lebanon to plunder it, to use it as a battleground against Israel, and because Syria insists Lebanon has no right to exist. Lebanon is considered a breakaway province of Syria, even though the modern state of Lebanon was never attached to the modern state of Syria.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 19, 2007 03:39 PM

Michael,

But of course. The guy is a prof and claims expertise in the ME, yet either hasn't gotten a clue, or he's just an apologist for west's enemies. I would guess both.

But then he's quite representative of ME faculty in the west, while people with serious research like Pipes and Kramer are called rabid and racists. If that does not tell you of the decline of the west, nothing will.

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 03:58 PM

fp, you're referring to the decline in Middle East Studies departments, not "the West."

Let's see what those departments look like after the 1968 generation retires. College students these days have a very different world view from their professors, and this has been extensively documented. Wait.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 19, 2007 04:31 PM

The decline of the ME depts is an indicator of, contributor to and consequence of the decline of the west. It is an integral component of the collapse of the educational system (if you wondered why more than 50% of americans believe in creation rather than darwinism, there it is.

Given the radical left/islamist indoctrination that passes for academic education these days, the chance of reversing the collapse is nil. The problem is that even the right is not much better educated than the left. As you can see from some of the LGF-like comments on this your site.

As I stated before, westerners get schooled, but not educated.

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 04:40 PM

fP: if you wondered why more than 50% of americans believe in creation rather than darwinism, there it is.

This is nothing new, so can't be used as evidence of a decline.

And the decline of the Middle East Studies Departments is a temporary phenemenon that will die with the Baby Boomers, when the 1968 experience passes out of living memory.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 19, 2007 05:12 PM

Sure it's nothing new, but then a proper education had a considerable amount of time to lower this statistic significantly and it obviously failed.

The difference between you and me is that I can compare education in my time and today and see the decline clearly, while you can't see the difference.

We'll see how temporary it is. My take is that your position is more wishful thinking. And it's not clear to me what baby-boomership has to do with ME depts.

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 05:20 PM

Sheesh fp, how old are you? I am 33 going on 23.

Posted by: Zak at February 19, 2007 05:55 PM

Than the question is should I consider you mature or naive? :)

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 06:03 PM

Yes, the Syrians invaded Lebanon because they believed it had become a threat to their existence.

Boggle!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at February 19, 2007 06:39 PM

http://www.meforum.org/article/789

http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1782

http://sandbox.blog-city.com/israeli_plot_against_juan_cole.htm

http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2004_11_25.htm

http://www.mererhetoric.com/archives/11272399.html

http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/2668

http://www.proteinwisdom.com/index.php/weblog/entry/20228/

http://sandbox.blog-city.com/juan_cole_next_book.htm

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=17422

http://iraqpundit.blogspot.com/2005/09/cole-of-arabia.html

http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2005_07_14.htm

Posted by: fp at February 19, 2007 07:18 PM

.

Posted by: leo at February 19, 2007 08:21 PM

[...]

You because you go there and Cole because he relies on the primary local sources, which are largely ignored by mainstream media.

[...]
-Tim Bray

Mm.

With regards to the 'primary local sources'... this is purely anecdotal, but I know an number of people who have been interviewed by either TV or print media*.

In every case, the person interviewed later read the story that the reporter wrote and found at least one factual error, sometimes major, sometimes minor, but always at least one. Usually more.

Take everything you read in the papers or see on TV with a grain of salt- as well as anything based on such reports.

Yes, that includes this website. Sorry, Michael, but anyone can make a mistake, as I'm sure you're aware.

.....

And the decline of the Middle East Studies Departments is a temporary phenemenon that will die with the Baby Boomers, when the 1968 experience passes out of living memory.
-MJT

I am less optimistic than you are, as university health plans tend to be quite good and medical technology advances at an ever-increasing rate.

There is a depressingly high probability that a large number of the "class of '68" will still be with us in 2050.

*various friends and relatives have/had a bit of involvement with media in Seattle in varying capacities. You'd be amazed at how many journalists use their social networks to do research, instead of a library.

Posted by: rosignol at February 19, 2007 09:05 PM

“You'd be amazed at how many journalists use their social networks to do research, instead of a library.”

‘Social networks’ are likely more influential in developing opinions than short-term classroom studies—unread books always irrelevant; the first media report for any event often the most faulty, pictorial propaganda the most memorable. Brain lock is a confounding social disease. Wisdom is rare.

Posted by: JAS at February 20, 2007 01:01 AM

'fp: But then he's quite representative of ME faculty in the west, while people with serious research like Pipes and Kramer are called rabid and racists. If that does not tell you of the decline of the west, nothing will.'

I fail to see yr point ... actually, I do. It's nothing to do with academic credibility, but with politics. Academically-speaking, I see little difference between Cole and Pipes, who both have strong credentials in Middle East studies. I also have no problem with academics who are engagé - engaged or involved in the public sphere and political debate, as both Pipes and Cole are. What I do have a problem is the assumption that not just Cole's political opinions but the whole basis of his scholarship must be wrong. Come back when you've read his whole oeuvre - he's very good on the history of Shia Islam IMHO

Posted by: Nick at February 20, 2007 05:44 AM

Wow, this is quite the fuss over a relatively minor point. Must be Cole-bashing season again.

Good thing that no one else around here either speculates or gets things wrong.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 08:59 AM

As I keep repeating over and over again, at the foundation of the western decline is the fall of knowledge and reason due to the collapse of the educational system.

Oeuvre, shmoeuvre. Even if I agreed that Cole had some knowledge -- and whatever little of it he has is mostly irrelevant to the claims he makes -- he certainly lacks reasoning ability. To repeat: he is an idiot. Most people who consider him as a ME expert are laymen who rely on his own claims of expertise without having really looked into it. Yale did and said thanks but no thanks.

Cole is following in the tradition of Said of substituting political activism for academic workmanship (that's also a component of the collapse). At least Said was an erudite, educated man. Cole is an hysteric asshole.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 10:16 AM

http://www.meforum.org/article/1655

But I am not optimistic as he is. On the contrary.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 10:19 AM

To repeat: he is an idiot. Most people who consider him as a ME expert are laymen who rely on his own claims of expertise without having really looked into it.

I generally consider analysts experts or not depending on whether their predictions come about or not. Cole has been more often right than not, especially on the big questions, which puts him well beyond most other experts in the field.

I also note that many judge him on ideological grounds rather than on his ability to assess what's going on in the ME.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 10:53 AM

What big questions? What predictions?

Anybody who expresses opinions such as those reflected in his exchange with me, and lacking the most basic intellectual integrity as has been demonstrated does not deserve consideration.

The only ideologist is Cole himself. There is nothing behind his claims but ideology, and a rather idiotic one at that e.g. Kramer is an israeli agent and the mossad is after Cole to kill him.

It is one aspect of the collapse of education in the west that the the public does not have the knowledge and reasoning capacity to judge academics on substance rather than ideology. That's why quasi-academics like Cole still exists, while real intellectuals are ideologues.
Upside down and backwards.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 11:16 AM

http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=26910

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 12:08 PM

What big questions? What predictions?

I guess you don't read him very much.

For a start, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, despite his support of the venture, he predicted that the lack of sufficient military personnel and the lack of a comprehensive post-invasion plan was going to cause severe problems.

He accurately predicted the support that al Sadr would receive, and the problems that would result from that.

He noted, quite early, that the growth of militias was a problem that would result in sectarian violence being a greater concern than and insurgency.

Etc. And that's just off the top of my head.

I don't think that Cole is beyond criticism, but give the man his due. He called the outcome of this disaster fairly early where a lot of others did not.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 12:56 PM

And THAT was a prediction that was based on his unique knowledge of the ME, stemming from his research?

The Bush administration was told this upfront by a multitude of people who did not even have a great knowledge of the subject. Even I knew that US arrogant ignorance about the ME would doom the endeavor, if not the initial war. Show me any significant american military victory since WW2?

Anybody with any superficial knowledge of American way of doing things and the ME called this disaster.

He also keeps ranting that the war was done for Israel's sake, which is obviously pure crap. Anybody who spews the kind of nonsense that was exposed by so many cannot possibly be taken seriously.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 01:10 PM

And THAT was a prediction that was based on his unique knowledge of the ME, stemming from his research?

Aside from the possible faux pas of suggesting that those who predicted success in Iraq lacked even superficial knowledge about the Middle East or the way that American do things, which I think unkind, your point only addresses the first of the items I mentioned. Even if accurately predicting failure in Iraq can be brushed off, that still leaves the many other things that he got right about Iraq.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 01:16 PM

Truth tends not to be always kind, which is why there isnt much truth around. Don't they say in the US "if you don't have anything positive to say, don't say it"? That's one of the reasons americans so much believe in their own superiority propaganda.

You sort of dismissed me for not reading Cole too much, but you seem to have read only Cole, given that you are unfamiliar with so many others who predicted quite well.

No wonder you think highly of him even in the face of counter evidence.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 02:34 PM

DPU,

All predictive ability aside, what say you to the cases where my read was that he had:

1. Badly fudged the translation of Ahminedijad's statement regarding removing/wiping Israel off the map
2. Mistranslated the item above

I don't have the qualifications to judge directly, but you frequently can judge from the scrum in these matters which side of zero the answer lies on.

Doesn't this lower his standing as a competent and honest translator of things Shiite?

Posted by: jdwill at February 20, 2007 03:34 PM

You sort of dismissed me for not reading Cole too much, but you seem to have read only Cole, given that you are unfamiliar with so many others who predicted quite well.

That's an odd assumption, and an incorrect one.

No wonder you think highly of him even in the face of counter evidence.

And a conclusion leapt to on the basis of your incorrect assumption. I think highly of his analysis because it has proven correct more than it has proven incorrect. I can't even begin to understand why you think that means I've read no other opinions, or other opinions that also accurate.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 04:42 PM

Because, despite all the evidence of his infantility, you seem to think that he is sort of unique in his correct predictions.

If others predicted as well, yet do not exhibit his idiocy, wouldn't you say they are preferrable, IF you were aware of them?

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 04:49 PM

All predictive ability aside, what say you to the cases where my read was that he had: ...

Both these items are quibbles about translation. As far as the first goes, I believe that MEMRI backed up Cole's translation. Regarding the second, it seems to me that the point rests on whether "on the Iraqi-Iranian border in the area of the marshes" implies inside Iraq or is undetermined. However, if I were reading a US report on, say, the presence of a criminal, and it indicated that he was in an area near the Canadian border, I think the assumption is that he would be on the US side of it.

Regardless, even were I a critic of the professor, I'm not sure that I would be trumpeting a potential misunderstanding of a minor item like this in this way. It's likely not a nefarious attempt at distortion, and instead a simple difference of opinion of the interpretation of a phrase.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 04:49 PM

Because, despite all the evidence of his infantility, you seem to think that he is sort of unique in his correct predictions.

Where did I say that? I said that he is more often right than wrong, and this places him higher in my estimation than those that do otherwise.

A lot of leaping to conclusions going on today.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 04:51 PM

I agree that it's minor. There are many more serious reasons to ignore him.

BTW, it was Cole who quibbled in his translation, trying to make Ahmedinajad not seem genocidal.

He is an apologist for islamists. Too bad you don't see the obvious.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 04:53 PM

For somebody who accuses others of leaping to conclusions, logic is not your forte.

If there are others who (a) predicted as well or better (b) they are not infantile and wrong about so many things, why would you want to pay attention to him?

(As an aside my guess is that if somebody were to take all his pronouncements and do a systematic and thorough analysis of his prediction, his accuracy would prove less then what you think it is, to put it politely). But my guess is that even then you would defend him.

Posted by: fp at February 20, 2007 05:00 PM

He is an apologist for islamists. Too bad you don't see the obvious.

I would be delighted if you would demonstrate what you think obvious. And quibbles about translation don't cut it, as far as I'm concerned. An apologist for Islamists must have a few translation-unrelated statements doing so, wouldn't you think?

Thus far, I have read his repeated condemnation of Bin Laden, al Qaeda, al Sadr, Ahmedinajad, and the House of Saud. Maybe he is praising them when I don't look at his blog?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 05:13 PM

...trumpeting a potential misunderstanding of a minor item ...

LOL - AhmenidiNutJob has done everything except take out an ad in Target declaring his intent to wipe out Israel. Juan Cole then jumps up like the blonde that will save the world from the monster by throwing a kiss at it. "He's only misunderstood". I forget the movie, wasn't she one of the first ones eaten?

Posted by: jdwill at February 20, 2007 05:14 PM

As an aside my guess is that if somebody were to take all his pronouncements and do a systematic and thorough analysis of his prediction, his accuracy would prove less then what you think it is...

Your guess? Unless you have already done this, I cannot think of a more useless statement to put into words.

But my guess is that even then you would defend him.

No, wait, I stand corrected. A statement guessing as to the outcome of a previous guess is even more worthless.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 05:17 PM

AhmenidiNutJob has done everything except take out an ad ...

I think you misread my comment. The quote you include is regarding the border issue. And regarding the blond throwing a kiss, sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about. Are you under the impression that Cole is a fan of the Iranian regime? Or is it just that he isn't denouncing them with sufficient vigor?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 05:21 PM

My impression is that Juan Cole is a pompous contrarian with a vindictive streak who is getting fact checked often enough to possibly deserve his own Internet verb. I don't pretend to know why.

I could gather some links, but its time for a swim. Must. Shake. Off. Lethargy.

Posted by: jdwill at February 20, 2007 05:43 PM

DPU, the reason I find you so annoying is because I can't tell what you are for, or conversely, what you are against. What’s your vision? Where do you stand regarding the issues we discuss here? I really don’t know because you spend your time being a sophistic contrarian, smugly picking apart other peoples’ comments but not contributing any view of your own. That said, you force people to defend their points of view, which is important. But that’s all you’re good for, and you do it ad nauseam.

Posted by: Zak at February 20, 2007 06:04 PM

My impression is that Juan Cole is a pompous contrarian with a vindictive streak who is getting fact checked often enough to possibly deserve his own Internet verb.

I'd say that's fair comment.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 06:54 PM

Where do you stand regarding the issues we discuss here?

As the issue at hand is the nitpicking of Cole, I think I've been pretty clear. I think much of the criticism here is out of line, and that ideological axes are being ground.

I really don’t know because you spend your time being a sophistic contrarian, smugly picking apart other peoples’ comments but not contributing any view of your own.

Well, smug is not my aim, and I regret it if I come across as that to you. I'm not sure which issues you want me to clarify my position on. Israel? For it. Zionism? For it. Islamism? Think it's bad. Hezbollah? Against it, but hope that it reforms itself away from extremism because I don't see any other positive road forward. Hussein? Bad guy. Invasion of Iraq? Bad idea. Invasion of Afghanistan and overthrow of the Taliban? For it. Pakistan? Concerned about it. Bush administration? A cruel joke played on the US at the worst possible time.

Anything I missed?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2007 07:05 PM

DPU,

I'm back. And you're right, I crossed up your quotes. But it was fun while it lasted.

As to the movie, I'm thinking it was Mars Attacks, but I can't be sure.

And maybe the beef here with Juan Cole starts with the fact that he is an ideological axe (man).

Posted by: jdwill at February 20, 2007 07:33 PM

As to the movie, I'm thinking it was Mars Attacks...

Ah, as played by the delightful and lovely Annette Bening. Or you may be recalling the ditzy roommate trying to welcome the aliens in "Independence Day".

And maybe the beef here with Juan Cole starts with the fact that he is an ideological axe (man).

Everyone has their own ideological turf. Cole may certainly be criticized for some things that he's postulated (the source of funding for certain Iraqi bloggers, for example), but this border issue is pretty small potatoes, at least to my eyes.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2007 06:44 AM

An ideology is not necessarily an axe to grind. The point is not to confuse ideology with knowledge and reason and not to substitute the latter former for the latter.

Cole is an academic who promotes himself as an expert of ME, but in reality is an hysterical conspirational theorist, anti-semite, and islamist apologist.

What evidence, you ask? Nitpicking, you say. I posted an exchange in which he exhibits either utter ignorance, or stupidity, or dishonesty, or all three. I posted quite a few links which document the same. Any notion that this is nitpicking is ridiculous and, as somebody else has rightly argued here, sophistic. Seems to me you and Cole are similar in hearing yourself talk rather than address substance.

I understand why you focus on the mistranslation.
Why don't you explain why all the evidence I posted is just nitpicking, or ideologically motivated.

Posted by: fp at February 21, 2007 04:03 PM

I posted an exchange in which he exhibits either utter ignorance, or stupidity, or dishonesty, or all three.

I'd be eager to see his apologizing for Islamism, as you assert. I didn't see it in the exchange you posted.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2007 04:46 PM

You are mixing two distinct subjects.

The exchange I posted is evidence for his ignorance/stupidity/dishonesty on a ME subject. Here he was an arabist, as I clearly stated in the exchange.

The Ahmadinajad episode was an example of an islamism apology.

There is more evidence for the same in the links I posted and which I can only assume you did not read.

Here our exchanges ends -- I've already spent too much time on it and I'm not convinced it's worth it.

Posted by: fp at February 21, 2007 08:21 PM

At this point I find it embarassing for Michael to continue grinding his axe with Juan Cole. In terms of pernicious influence, shrillness, ideological blindness and basically just getting everything wrong time and time again, Cole is not even in the same league as academics like Victor Hanson or Glenn Reynolds. If MT is trying to build credentials a "centrist", linking to right-wing hack jobs is an odd way to do it.

Posted by: vanya_6724 at February 22, 2007 03:18 AM

The Ahmadinajad episode was an example of an islamism apology.

By that standard, you would also classify MEMRI as an Islamist apologist, as they had a similar translation. I can only conclude that if you take issues like this as evidence of being soft on Islamism, you and your writings can be quite safely dismissed.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 22, 2007 07:09 AM

Vanya,

Perhaps, but neither of them is an academic Prof. who is his own promoter (real intellectuals don't do that because they don't need to), neither is an hysteric conspiratory theorist, and neither has been proven with evidence that he is ignorant/stupid/dishonest.

Posted by: fp at February 22, 2007 12:25 PM

dpu,

Well, what I knew about MEMRI's recotd were similar to Cole's, you would be right. But since we both know the difference between them, you're wrong.

It's not the translation per se that is the problem here, but rather the interpretation that it was given.

The point is this: even if the translation were 100% correct, would that be a sensible reason to try to argue that Ahmedinajad meant anything else?
Are we seriously gonna to quibble about what his attitude towards israel really is? Is syntax gonna excuse him?

Posted by: fp at February 22, 2007 12:30 PM

The point is this: even if the translation were 100% correct, would that be a sensible reason to try to argue that Ahmedinajad meant anything else?

As the debate at the time was regarding what had been said and the accuracy of the translation, that was all that was discussed. And to extrapolate from the discussion that somehow Cole, who has called the Iranian regime despicable, approves or excuses them is simply, well, bizarre.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 22, 2007 01:50 PM

The guy who told you that you're just a sophist was obviously right. You're not engaging the real issue, you just try to force your being right whether it's relevant or valid. That's why I said I am finished with you.

Posted by: fp at February 22, 2007 03:21 PM

The problem isn't Juan Cole. The man has opinions, but more importantly, he has facts, lots of them, more than most people. He deliniates pretty clearly between what he puts out as fact, vs. evidence, vs. speculation, vs. opinion.

The problem also isn't Martin Kramer. Well, mostly not. Actually, he comes off as a jerk with a lot of unnecessary attitude, but he's attempting to make, at least and thankfully, some sort of specific point regarding some piece of evidence that J.C. brought up.

The problem is with the thugs on every Web political weblog under the sun, including here, and their hysterical, demonizing, invective-filled denunciations of people like Juan Cole, on the basis that he has different opinions than them about right and wrong, guilt and blame. People like some people on this blog, except in higher positions of power, contribute to J.C. - and through people like him, relevant information - being marginalized.

As for the case itself, Mike, you overplay and sensationalize your link to call it a "bust". How the heck should I know if the article says that Sadr is in "Iraq" or "on the Iran-Iraq border"? Frankly, for all I read - constantly - about Iran and Iraq, I was also under the impression that the marshlands are exclusively or nearly exclusively on the Iraq side. I've been rereading The Longest War several times in the past month and the only time marshland fighting is mentioned are while the Iranians are on the Iraqi side of the border (84-86).

Even if the Arabic does say the Iran-Iraq border, which nobody here, as far as I know, can verify, there's nothing wrong with Juan Cole stating, effectively, "this report, while attempting to cover its a**, still basically constitutes evidence that Sadr is in Iraq, not Iran." That would be his analysis of the relevance of the article. It's an opinion, but it's hardly a bust.

J.C.'s not always careful enough, and it's not farfetched to imagine that he has or might swing at a US claim and miss, but this isn't the occasion.

Well, I'm off to go make a positive statement on some other post. :-)

Posted by: glasnost at February 23, 2007 08:40 AM

DPI, you're a nice guy to waste so much of your time justifying yourself to some rather warped people. It never works, dude.

Posted by: glasnost at February 23, 2007 08:42 AM

The problem is with the thugs on every Web political weblog under the sun, including here, and their hysterical, demonizing, invective-filled denunciations of people like Juan Cole, on the basis that he has different opinions than them about right and wrong, guilt and blame.

Welcome to the marketplace of ideas, where everyone can say what they think, regardless of if you (or I) agree with them- or even if their facts are correct.

This is a feature, not a bug. People who consistently present reliable information and quality analysis will gain a reputation for doing so. People who present speculation and flawed analysis will also gain a reputation. Eventually, so few people will take the source of bad information seriously that they will become irrelevant to the debate.

People like some people on this blog, except in higher positions of power, contribute to J.C. - and through people like him, relevant information - being marginalized.

Be careful with that line of reasoning. Conspiracy theory causes brain rot.

Posted by: rosignol at February 23, 2007 02:04 PM

rosignol,

That's how the world SHOULD work. Unfortunately, that's not how it does.

I am forced to repeat over and over that the root of the problem is the collapse of education in the west, with the US leading the pack. The obvious result is ignorance and inability to reason; everything is an opinion, ignoring inconvenient facts, etc. Thus, you've got tons of people who have no clue on the subject matter and cannot think straight populating the web and spitting opinions left an right. I label those vociferous ignorami, and they are the rule, not the exception. Glasnost is just one specimen.

Consequently, your "time will expose the truth" process is currently an illusion, a leftover from the good old days when intellect, knowledge and reason were were at the core of communication.

And things are getting worse, not better. That is, in fact, one reason for the current idiotic left, and why islamism is effective against the west the way it is.

Posted by: fp at February 23, 2007 03:22 PM

I have reiterated several times around here that the root of the problem for the west is the collapse of the educational system. In the US this is producing ignorance and inability to reason, but who can gain prominence because in such an environment everything is a matter of opinion and everybody's is his own expert. That's how Cole became a prof and an expert on the ME.

But you don't have to be even a prof to have expertise. All you gotta do is have a leftwing blogger. You can then assess quality of "scholars" and their consensus without an iota of knowledge of your own.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/2/24/105932/990

Opinionated ignorance has proven extremely dangerous in the past, and it is what is brining the US (and the west) down the drain.

Posted by: fp at February 24, 2007 11:41 AM

Interestingly, this is not much different than what the islamists produce:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/02/how_do_they_train_scholars_in.html

They dk any better, what's the west's excuse?

Posted by: fp at February 24, 2007 01:16 PM

Welcome to the marketplace of ideas, where everyone can say what they think, regardless of if you (or I) agree with them- or even if their facts are correct.

Yeah, Ros, it's a beautiful thing, isn't it? People with genuine knowledge get to speak, and then the thugs get to insult and threaten them, and whatever available anti-thug forces such as are available get to insult and threaten right back, and everyone..... learns... something. Or not. If their behavior is wrong, so is mine: or if theirs is acceptable, so is mine.

By the way, your schematic of the marketplace supposes that the people in it suffer real consequences for being wrong. If America is so overwhelmingly strong in narrow, critical areas that it can afford to believe ridiculous, simplistic exaggerations, flawed logic, and hateful rantings and still basically skate by, then its citizens have no real incentive to differentiate flawed information and speculation from accurate information.

It takes a lot of overlooking of the dark side of the human condition to even pretend that most or even many commenters are even interested in whether their beliefs are "true" or "correct". A lot of people are simply interested in validating their emotional status quo, because they suffer few or no directly attributable consequences of being completely, utterly wrong.

Thus, people who offer speculation and fear-feeding gain reputations for "accuracy" from an audience that knows to use that word, but doesn't care about it. "Accuracy" is code for "says the things that make me feel good".

Pushers and junkies.

Posted by: glasnost at February 26, 2007 08:54 AM

Let me guess: you are the knowledgeable and the insulters are the others, right?

Posted by: fp at February 26, 2007 04:30 PM

BTW, wanna see a pusher/junkie. Guess who?

http://www.juancole.com/2007/02/american-jews-blacks-fiercest-opponents.html

Posted by: fp at February 27, 2007 01:15 PM

Yeah, Ros, it's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

:-)

People with genuine knowledge get to speak, and then the thugs get to insult and threaten them, and whatever available anti-thug forces such as are available get to insult and threaten right back, and everyone..... learns... something. Or not. If their behavior is wrong, so is mine: or if theirs is acceptable, so is mine.

Threatening with what? Name-calling?

Too many on the left seem to think that 'free speech' means 'speach that is free of consequences', and that's not the idea at all.

'Free speech' means the government will not penalize you for your words. Everyone else is free to decide the one speaking is an idiot, to express that opinion.

That's not 'oppression' or 'marginalization', it's free speech, just as much as the original expression was an example of free speech.

Now, threatening violence is something else entirely. MJT and numerous Lebanese can give you some perspective on that if you really want it... but being called an idiot (or something else uncomplimentary) doesn't even begin to register on that scale.

By the way, your schematic of the marketplace supposes that the people in it suffer real consequences for being wrong.

They do. People using inferior logical processes (either reasoning or incorrect facts) will make more errors than people using superior reasoning and factual information. Over time- and I freely admit it can take quite a bit of time, just as it took 70 years or so for Marx's broken economics to run the Soviet Union into the ground- being wrong too often will have very real consequences.

If America is so overwhelmingly strong in narrow, critical areas that it can afford to believe ridiculous, simplistic exaggerations, flawed logic, and hateful rantings and still basically skate by, then its citizens have no real incentive to differentiate flawed information and speculation from accurate information.

Sure we do.

IMO, a big part of the reason we're not having more trouble due to this is because most of the rest of the planet is even more screwed up than we are.

We don't have to be perfect, just better than the competition.

It takes a lot of overlooking of the dark side of the human condition to even pretend that most or even many commenters are even interested in whether their beliefs are "true" or "correct". A lot of people are simply interested in validating their emotional status quo, because they suffer few or no directly attributable consequences of being completely, utterly wrong.

Hm. If they are not experiencing negative consequences, perhaps you should consider the possibility that they might be more correct about something than you think?

Thus, people who offer speculation and fear-feeding gain reputations for "accuracy" from an audience that knows to use that word, but doesn't care about it. "Accuracy" is code for "says the things that make me feel good".

Pushers and junkies.

Mm. That's not a bad description of the environmental movement, IMO.

Posted by: rosignol at February 27, 2007 10:45 PM

I must admit, Ros, conversation with you is more interesting now that you've apparently decided to lump me in with that second category of leftists with some remaining brain function who can still be saved, rather than the first category of hopeless ones to be mocked. :-P

(At least you have a category two).

You're right - somewhat right anyway - there are worse things in the world than being called a whole bunch of names. What a bunch of blog commenters think about you matters less than many other things. This is to some extent an exercise in spare time. However, from another perspective, in some small way, the invisible web of American popular opinion is being shaped here, like everywhere else. We're all combatants in the ongoing internal information war that helps make this country marginally more efficient than others, for the moment.

However, the enemy of that efficiency is ideological conformity. The biggest smack-talkers on this blog or any other are always seeking to shut down debate. That's why you call someone names instead of just challenging their assumptions. Also why you agitate to have them banned, as happens on here regularly. Unbalanced, the system eats itself alive and rots.

Posted by: glasnost at March 2, 2007 07:25 AM

I must admit, Ros, conversation with you is more interesting now that you've apparently decided to lump me in with that second category of leftists with some remaining brain function who can still be saved, rather than the first category of hopeless ones to be mocked. :-P

The impervious-to-logic-and-reason types are a waste of my time, doesn't matter if they are on the left or the right. So long as you can think and analyze for yourself, instead of merely regurgitating dogma ad nauseum, you'll be worth talking to.

[...]

However, from another perspective, in some small way, the invisible web of American popular opinion is being shaped here, like everywhere else. We're all combatants in the ongoing internal information war that helps make this country marginally more efficient than others, for the moment.

That's part of the problem. Information war is the wrong approach to take on this issue.

You wage war on the enemy, not your countrymen.

The appropriate approach is one of consensus and constructive criticism of how to do the job better, not arguing over if the job should be done (that debate was over when the authorization to use force was passed), or casting aspersions on the motives of those supporting the action. That's attacking the person, not the argument, and it doesn't work. If doing X is a good thing on it's own terms, it is a good thing regardless of if the person proposing it is Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

However, the enemy of that efficiency is ideological conformity. The biggest smack-talkers on this blog or any other are always seeking to shut down debate. That's why you call someone names instead of just challenging their assumptions. Also why you agitate to have them banned, as happens on here regularly. Unbalanced, the system eats itself alive and rots.

Balance isn't the problem. The problem is that entirely too many people seem to have decided that the proper reaction to losing a debate is escalating from debate to information war.

Posted by: rosignol at March 2, 2007 04:26 PM
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