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Cole and Smith (Winston Smith)

| 28 Comments | 2 TrackBacks
I was going to just walk on by Professor Cole's latest attack on his own credibility and then I read this:
US troops in the neighborhood attracted the interest of children. At first the soldiers tried to wave them away, but then gave in and handed out candy. Presumably Baath or fundamentalist intelligence already had the US convoy under surveillance, and they saw this moment as an ideal time to act. A bomb-laden SUV slammed into the scene, killing over 30 persons, mostly children, and at least one US soldier. It also left over 25 wounded. The dead were immediately taken to the Shiite holy city of Najaf for burial.

I heard a report on National Public Radio on Wednesday quoting one of the bereaved mothers as blaming the Americans for the childrens' deaths (insofar as they were the occasion for the bombing).

(emphasis added)
So no matter how heinous the act of the terrorists, it is, of course, the American's fault.

OK, that's annoying. So let me take a minute and make sure you've caught up on The Professor's latest. It's not like I haven't taken my own swings at Professor Cole, but this is just embarrassing (that is, embarrassing for him). It appears that he:

1. Made a gross error (link is to a grab of his site by Martin Kramer) in his post - a la Pape - blaming Islamic terrorism on Western occupation (he suggested that 9/11 was a reaction to the massacre at Jenin...which not only never happened, but didn't happen in 2002, well after 9/11/2001);

2. When Martin Kramer gutted him on his mistakes, Cole "Winston Smithed" his mistake (changed it without note or comment) and then posted a lame apologia when he was caught out. I like the term "Winston Smithed" - or just "Winstoned" and encourage people to use it often when appropriate;

3. When Kramer busted him for doing that, he posted this request to the Kossaks:
Please do up an oppo research diary on Martin Kramer. Who is he? Where did he come from? When he was head of the Dayan Center in Tel Aviv, to whom did he report in the Israeli intelligence community? Who funded his work on Hizbullah? Was he fired from heading the Dayan Center? How does he suddenly show back up in the US after a 20-year absence with a book that blames unpreparedness for 9/11 on US professors of Middle East Studies instead of on the Israeli Mossad and the US CIA/FBI? What was his role in getting up the Iraq War and in advising the US on the wrong-headed policies that have gotten so many Americans killed? Who pays his salary, now, exactly? What are his links with AIPAC, and with the shadowy world of far-right Zionist think tanks and dummy organizations?
Basically, he asked the mob to go burn Kramer down. Note that I'm aware of Kramer's interest in compiling a dossier of writings by Cole and others; I think there's a big difference in compiling a catalog of someone's work - for which they are responsible, as I'm responsible for my words here - and digging into the career of an opponent with the clear intent of unearthing damaging information.

When called on that bad behavior, he simply edited it out of existence.

Kramer, on the other hand, did a hysterical job of creating a 'research diary' on himself, while skewering the pretentious professor.

Look, I think I've learned my own lesson on tone from my meeting with Adam Bellow (and note that I've got a draft post tying him to Valentino Rossi, so watch out). I read Cole every day, and I'm sure that I've learned a few things in the time I've been reading him.

Sadly, one of those is that he's not really a very nice guy.

Another is that he deserves to be mocked - primarily because of his claim to authority in his arguments. Look, there are people in the blogs who are real experts in things (Daniel Drezner, Larry Solum), and what's interesting is how seldom (if ever) they wave the flag of their academic authority, and how often Professor Cole waves his.

As another voice in the gentle babble of the blogosphere, Cole's as entitled to his positions and arguments as the rest of us. Let's just leave it at that.

But it would be nice if he played by the rules the rest of us play by - and cut out the attacks on people rather than arguments, and most of all realized that when he Winstons, the thing that gets erased first is his own credibility.

2 TrackBacks

Tracked: July 17, 2005 3:01 AM
Excerpt: Juan Cole, if you are unfamiliar with his work, is a History Professor at the University of Michigan, and a blogger for many years at Informed Comment. His specialty is the Middle East, and he's a harsh critic of the Bush Administration's policy in t...
Tracked: July 17, 2005 7:14 AM
Reliably Bad Punditry from Dean's World
Excerpt: I keep saying I'm not interested in the Plame affair but I have to admit, the story is getting more and more entertaining all the time. As the evidence that Karl Rove did anything wrong gets weaker and weaker (and it was always w...


"Winston" is not the word I'd choose, because of the overload on Winston Churchill's name--it's bad enough that Ward Churchill is an extant collision.

"MemHole" is suitably NewSpeak for me. And it might serve as an amusing appellation: "Hey, don't be such a memhole®!"

The Web's own Million Memory Hole March makes me wonder about some sort of a "quickie" snapshot that can be submitted to the Wayback Machine.

But how do you keep from letting bogus pages be indexed? Cf this item from the July 15th Crypto-Gram by Bruce Schneier:

A recently published book claims that Himmler was murdered by the British Special Operations Executive, rather than committing suicide after the Allies captured him. The book was based on documents found -- apparently in good faith -- in the UK's National Archive, which now appear to have been faked and inserted. It seems that the security effort at the National Archives is directed towards preventing people from removing documents. But the effects of adding forged documents could be much worse.

The Telegraph shares the news and an opinion.

So no matter how heinous the act of the terrorists, it is, of course, the American's fault.

But it is in this case. They wouldn't be surrounded by a human shield of little kids if the soldiers didn't give out candy.

ps. Your link is wrong

One of the first thoughts I had after I heard about the bombing that killed all those children was, "I wonder how long it will take for someone to claim that the Americans were using the children as human shields?"

Well, now I know.

Well, the idiots Cole and a have only themselves to blame. Their only defense would be to simply stop writing public comments and opinions. But they can't help themselves, so they dig themselves deeper holes. They are what they are.

Hmmm. Some of Cole's (revised) talking points made into my paper this morning. Congressman Paul Findley wrote an editorial complaining how he suffered when he blamed 9/11 on U.S. foreign policy. Still feeling the martyr, he repeats the complaint re 7/7:

In my statement after 9/11, I noted the long festering grievance of the worldwide Muslim community against Israel's crimes against Palestinians, as well as Lebanese and Syrians - crimes financed by the U.S. government. . . . These crimes have rarely appeared in U.S. headlines or newscasts, although Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, has plainly and repeatedly stated that 9/11 was a payback for these crimes. Now 7/7 can be added to the payback list.

What's to be done? Cut off financial aid to Israel:

At the least, suspension of aid would liberate America from further complicity in Israel's misdeeds. At best, it would quell the insurgency in Iraq and prompt Israel to vacate stolen territory. But Bush seems totally detached from reality. So does Blair.

Findley dares to reference reality? Wow.

As for "a", my disgust meter is so overloaded that I can no longer rationally respond to his vile statements.

Victor Hanson has a post up somewhere that details the main flaws of the Left's response to reality. Among them are:

1. Moral relativism, aka "who are we to say evil is evil."

2. Utopian pacifism which dates back to the aftermath of WWI, when Neville Chamberlain assailed Winston Churchill as a "warmonger," and praised "Mr. Hitler is someone we can do business with." War of course never solves anything, except of course when it always does.

3. Multiculturalism. Refusal to acknowledge Western society's superiority in social utility to all other models. Vibrancy of London or NYC is not any better than tribal butchery in West Africa. that sort of thing.

To this I'd add #4.

4. Nihilism. It's been clear to me for a long time that the Left (comprised of pampered middle class or upper class folks) are in love with violence and the people who do it. It's why the UN and chattering classes LOVE their terrorists, from Yasir Arafat strutting around with his pistol in the UN, to Pol Pot, to dictators like Fidel (Oliver Stone loves Castro).

The statement above probably reflects all four aspects, but most of all #4. The left just loves their killers, from Manson and Mumia to Mugabe, Che, and bin Laden.

That's something we'll just have to understand. The Left is the enemy of the future, and an ally of the past.

Passing out candy = killing little kids? I rest my case.

Please don't use "Winstoned." It might be mistaken for Winston Churchill. "Winston Smithed" is a much, much better idea.

I think that Juan's insinuation that Kramer is some kind of Mossad agent based solely (near as I can tell) on the fact that he's critical of Middle East studies and/or the good doctor tells you far more about the man's warped conspiratorial mindset than anything than anything it does about Kramer.

You disagree with Juan Cole? You must be Mossad!

Add to the fact that he edited the whole thing out without so much as an apology to the man he smeared with such a ridiculous accusation and it becomes clear that "Informed Conspiracy" might be a better name for his blog.

I have heard this mother's comment about Americans on several media sites now. They all seem to get the exact same quote. But none go into detail as to who translated it into English for the Western news media (I assume she said it in Arabic not English)

Is she somehow or other being quoted out of context? Could it be 'wishful' thinking on the part of those in the media to somehow or other blame Americans? Does anyone know of a clearer, more extensive quote?

Please do up an oppo research diary on Martin Kramer.

Will the Kostapo save Prof. Cole from Kramer the Sinister Jew?

Probably not. Kos just mass-purged all the regulars who were embarrassing him by posting conspiracy theories about the London Bombings, which means that their best and brightest intellects have been flushed.


I hope you were being sarcastic, but if not, condsider this:

The area where the incident took place just so happens to be the same place that I served at in Iraq from March 04 to March 05. I know what the conditions are like, including the behavior of the people in the area. Swarms of kids were a HUGE problem during daytime patrols. It was our policy to NEVER give out candy (or anything else) until right before we left. This policy was an attempt to reduce the size of the mob that always surrounded soldiers on patrol, and it was only marginally effective. We quickly learned that the only way to make a group of kids disperse was to grab the biggest male in the group and beat the s**t out of him. The rest would then scatter. Would you prefer that this be the standing operating procedure for patrols?

until right before we left

So we got the most human shield for our buck. If you don't give candy the kids will disappear very soon.

a, your logic is cold, but from a certain angle, crystalline.

People want to be liked. Especially well-meaning soldiers. "Lessons learned" is one thing the US Military has managed to implement as a policy just a wee bit better than some other forces (historically).

One of the Main Street Media's causes celebres is that the Coalition is forging a better scimitar for its foes by giving them a tougher time than the Soviets did the Taliban. But co-evolution is, so to speak, double-edged. We get a sharper scimitar, too.

Everybody learns--if they are paying attention. What they learn depends on what they pay attention to. The questions become--Who can learn something really new? and What will that be?


"So we got the most human shield for our buck. If you don't give candy the kids will disappear very soon."

Talk about a no win situation. I suppose your next argument would be how arrogant and inhumane we would be if we ignored the children all together? Try as we might children are conditioned to rely on their elders. They are conditioned from an early age that their survival depends on it. Along with that conditioning comes an undeniable and unquestionable trust in their innocence and ignorant youth. Who, more than any parent understands this role and expects it from society in total. Parents expect it even of those with false pretenses that mean to harm our progeny. I don't know whether to feel pity or disgust for you and the warped minds that dream up this conjecture.

Were the minds of our soldiers so warped they would have mowed them down themselves and saved the perpetrators the effort. Many of our uniformed personnel have families of their own and understand all to well the joys of delight in child's eye. A respite from the tribulations and monsters under the bed that children perceive is their only crime.

1. Moral relativism, they can't invade countries but we can.

2. Utopian militarisme. If we invade they will love is and give away their oil to us.

3. Refusal to aknowledge that religion is the problem. Not only Islam but all religion.
It was just as bad here fifthy years ago but it is now here better because the churches lost their power. You can see the same happinging in the Muslim world except in places where there is a lot of instability as religion feeds on that

4. One word.
Shock and awe.


"It was just as bad here fifthy years ago but it is now here better because the churches lost their power."

Now I'm wondering where you are from and if you are an American citizen. Since the inception of the United States churches and religion have never had the power over citizenry that was wielded throughout Europe and the Middle East.

I'm with USMC on this one. I think a is Dutch, but you'd have to go back quite some time to find anything on the order of the hadd punishments being carried out in US and certainly not in the 1960s.

I can think of no world that matches 'a's.

"a" is going to find that karma works. Living his life by his philosophy will be his personal hell on Earth.

a wrote:

"So we got the most human shield for our buck. If you don't give candy the kids will disappear very soon."

No. We'd have LOVED it if the kids would have disappeared "very soon." If you don't hand any out, they stand around and beg for water, soccer balls, food, whatever. The reason we didn't want them around is that they clog up a soldier's field of vision, limiting his ability to discern a threat. It's very easy to spot a hostile on an empty street, but try doing that when there are hundreds of people around, some of them as close as a foot away (1/3 of a meter to all the non-yanks out there) from you. Thus our occasional harsh methods of clearing the crowds out. The men who replaced us in Al-Thawra District clearly hadn't (until recently) come to the realization that nothing good comes from having crowds around, especially kids. I can say with 100% certainty that the soldiers were passing out candy because they wanted to do something nice for the kids. They won't be doing much more of that, I imagine.

I just realized that I'm being far too civil with a person who accused myself and my comrades of using children as "human shields." A, if you are indeed serious (and I'm not totally convinced that you are), then might I suggest that you perform an excercise in self-fornication?

a: 4. One word. Shock and awe.

That's three words, of course, and here's a bunch more:

1. Existential Nausea
2. Spiritual Exhaustion
3. Cultural Collapse
4. Moral and Intellectual Bankruptcy
5. Historical Dotage
6. Just waiting around to die, hopefully before the welfare, the oil, and the hashish run out

You don't have to pick just one, of course. You can have the whole set.

The thing that really upsets me about Juan Cole is that he is a member of an academic depatment (UofM History) of which I am an alumnus (MA 71). They send me appeals for money from time to time. I will not be sending them any money as long as Cole is on the payroll.

a. connects from the Netherlands, yes. This may in part explain his ignorance of America and Americans.

As for worlds that match a's... Osama's and Chomsky's both do.


That the Churches didn't have an official power from the state doesn't mean that they were without it. They were always very powerfull in American politics and could influence, maybe even decide an afwul lot.

Divorce was not easy to get 50 years ago and you couldn't buy a playboy anywhere. And if you look a bit further back you had prohibition which also was religious based. Or if you want a more rcent example you can look at how the black churches helped Charles Taylor stay in power.

And in Canada, France, and many other countries of Europe, the display of American television programs and movies is surpressed by the goverment.

I leave to you to expound on what pornography and American Pop culture have in common, but no more lessons from you on freedom of speech if you don't mind.

"a", your view of America simply doesn't match the reality. "The Churches" did not "decide a lot" in this country. While religion has always been an important part of American life, no one church has had enough influence in the US, especially in the last century, to run anything nationwide. Outside of the state of Utah, no one state has been all that influenced by a church for that matter. Playboy was first published in 1953 and sold 50,000 issues ... oddly for a magazine that one could not buy anywhere.

Frankly, you have a very strange understanding of America, not unlike someone who has read Alexis de Toqueville in a bad translation and have formed some wierd opinions thereby.


1. Doesn't know a damn thing about war.

2. Is totally ignorant about American fighting men.

3. Hates religion and the self examination it requires.

4. Does some pretty strong dope.

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