Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I don't get him either

I like to think I'm an intelligent guy. Not the smartest guy in the room necessarily, but neither am I the biggest dolt in the neighborhood. I make a conscious effort to remember that I don't know everything about everything.

Having said all that, I'm perfectly comfortable admitting that there are some things--and people--that I don't 'get.' Whether or not it's a matter of intelligence, I just don't 'get' why people think they need to read Kos, Billmon or the subject of this post, Juan Cole.

Cole is a professor of History at the University of Michigan, and at least for a time, was some lefties favorite Middle East expert to cite during discussions on Iraq. He's had a couple of famous (a relative term in the blogosphere) dust-ups with the likes of NRO's Jonah Goldberg and most recently with Martin Kramer, senior associate of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University and self-described "authority on contemporary Islam and Arab politics."

Today, Cole has decided to address the plight of women worldwide under George W. Bush. In a post titled The Roberts Nomination and the Iraqi Constitution: Bush's War on Women, Cole loses all focus and seems to think that the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court is somehow related to the war in Iraq:

George W. Bush's nomination of John Roberts, Jr. is a setback for American women, just has his policies in Iraq have produced a setback for women's rights in the Arab world. Indeed, Bush has been bad for women all around the globe.

I guess when you're what is rightly described as an Arabist who has spent 3 years blasting the Bush Administration at essentially every turn, everything is related to the war in Iraq. Like I said, I just don't 'get' it.


Simian Logician said...

I don't see how you can argue that Bush's policies in the Arab and Muslim world have been anything but positive. Without critique? Certainly not, but Cole's grasping.

jpe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jpe said...

Cole didn't seem to be positing an internal connection between Bush's Iraqi adventure and his nomination of a anti-choice judge (something a Hannah Arendt devotee might posit); it seemed like more of a literary device.

That said, the Arendtian notion of an internal link between the two is intriguing. For example, there was quite a lot of talk about bringing freedom to Iraq, but little to nothing about the possible negative effects a de-secularized Iraq could have on the rights of women (something plenty of people, myself included, were deeply concerned about). The upshot? Freedom for Iraq seems to amount to freedom for Iraqi men. The women? They really didn't figure into the calculus.

That's the way the Arendtian critique would proceed. Cole is undoubtedly familiar with her work, so maybe he did mean to allude to her. Possible, but not likely.

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