Saturday, June 17, 2006

Juan Cole and argument by motive 

Juan Cole snarked up a storm over the revelation that al Qaeda in Iraq was trying to provoke conflict between the United States and Iran:

Remember all those times Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld came out and said they suspected that Shiite Iran was somehow aiding the Sunni Arab insurgency? You remember how baffled I was at this bizarre allegation? You wonder whether they were being fed disinformation by a Zarqawi agent, and falling for it.

After they fell for the biggest whoppers of the 21st century, as retailed by Ahmad Chalabi, have Bush administration officials been gullibly swallowing an al-Qaeda black psy-ops operation intended to mire US troops in the Dasht-i Kavir? For people who think of themselves as tough as nails hardheaded realists, the Bushies seem awfully easy to fool.

American hawks tied to the Israeli Likud Party, such as Michael Ledeen and Michael Rubin, who are also trying to get up an American war on Iran, turn out to have the same goal as Zarqawi!

I'm not sure what "tied to the Israeli Likud Party" is supposed to mean -- that Ledeen and Rubin have friends who support Likud? -- but I do know that Michael Ledeen has never advocated war with Iran. He absolutely believes that Iran has been waging war on the United States directly and by proxy since 1979, and he also believes that we should be supporting Iranians who resist, or would resist, the regime of the Islamic Republic. There is no evidence, however, that Ledeen supports war with Iran, however extensive our moral or legal justification for war might be. Worried that I might have missed a call for war in Ledeen's voluminous writings, I confirmed his position by email this morning, something that Cole, who takes great umbrage when others (allegedly) mischaracterize his position, obviously did not do.

Cole would be vastly more persuasive if he did not mingle ad hominem attacks -- false or otherwise -- with his analysis. Unfortunately, Cole often impugns the motives of others rather than engaging them on the merits. When combined with his signature paranoia -- Cole believes that "there is some sort of Karl Rove-type campaign of disinformation out there in which I am being attacked on my strengths" -- it becomes very easy to write Juan Cole's opinions down to zero.


By Anonymous Alex Bensky, at Sat Jun 17, 08:12:00 PM:

This "Likud" reference is fairly common and the purpose is obvious, I should think.

"We're not anti-Israe, not us. We are with the nice, liberal, progressive Israelis who only want peace. It's those nasty Likudniks who are spoiling everything."

Cole seems to have failed to notice that the Likud isn't the ruling party any more. On the other hand, any day he'll be referring to people supposedly "tied to Kadima." Won't have quite the same resonance, though.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jun 17, 10:09:00 PM:

I dont quite understand these two points.

1. Ledeen "absolutely believes that Iran has been waging war on the United States directly and by proxy since 1979",

and 2. "Ledeen has never advocated war with Iran."

Whats going on here? I am a lib-close-to-pacifist myself, but if I were to conclude that a country was waging war against us, then I would have to go along with the notion of waging war right back.

Can it really be the case that Ledeen believes that we should not respond in kind when another nation is warring against us? I don't think you, or he, is making much sense here.  

By Blogger mledeen, at Sat Jun 17, 10:38:00 PM:

I have always opposed the use of military force against Iran. I've argued that it's better to support revolution in a country where the overwhelming majority of a very young population hates the regime.

I certainly want to respond, and I want to bring down the mullahcracy--it's a matter of how and with what instruments.  

By Anonymous Howard, at Sat Jun 17, 11:20:00 PM:

I'm not too surprised to see Juan Cole indulging in a classical logical fallacy in putting Michael Ledeen and Michael Rubin in league with Zarqawi (accuracy of the actual claim notwithstanding).

Of course, this approach could be profitably used on our dear professor with enlightening results. Let's try...

1) Juan Cole opposed the US invasion into Iraq. Saddam Hussein also wasn't too keen on the idea of having his dictatorship toppled. Turns out that Cole and Saddam Hussein had the same goal!

2) Juan Cole believes that Al Jazeera is an excellent source for news. Osama bin Laden makes sure that his video recordings always find their way onto Al Jazeera - he must think that the network is excellent too. Cole and Osama... peas in a pod!  

By Anonymous Armed Liberal, at Sun Jun 18, 12:03:00 AM:

My favorite thing about Cole's comment is that he pins the antiwar analysts like Marc Lynch - it has to be a legit letter to support Cole's claim. But then all the bad news in the letter must be true.

Or Cole's wrong, and it's disinformation, in which case conflict with Iran isn't something we're being led to by the jihadis.

I love forks in chess...


By Blogger Judith, at Sun Jun 18, 02:12:00 AM:

"I'm not sure what "tied to the Israeli Likud Party" is supposed to mean -- that Ledeen and Rubin have friends who support Likud?"

That's one of Cole's stock phrases. You could create a Cole rant by setting up a random phrase generator and stocking it with this kind of soundbite. It is also a standard trope of the anti-israel left.  

By Blogger quantum, at Sun Jun 18, 05:34:00 AM:

Judith, anti-Israel left is close to a redundancy.

Also, I believe Cole didn't completely oppose the Iraq war from the beginning..  

By Blogger RJ Schwarz, at Wed Jun 21, 01:30:00 PM:

Motives are very important to most on the left while results are important to most on the right.

It doesn't matter if the end results are good, if your motives are impure your actions are bad. It doesn't matter if your policies wreck havoc on those they are intended to help, if your motives are pure your actions are good.

This is one of the major differences between the left and the right who will turn a blind eye to bad motives if the result works out (Pinchet for example).  

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