Juan Cole @ YearlyKos 2007:
Referring to his new book, and sounding quite pretentious: "Western invasions and occupations of Middle Eastern countries often haven't gone very well...this is not a new thing."
Later in the interview: "This (YearlyKos) group has been a major force for rethinking the early tone of the coverage of the Iraq situation. If you wanted to go back to 2003, and check who was saying what, you know, 95% of press commentary was of the cheer-leading sort. And it was the left bloggers who raised questions that began to see problems and who opposed the war in the first place."
Indeed, Juan - let us go back to 2003 and check who in fact was saying what.
"My mind and heart are, like those of so many Americans, focused on the Gulf and Iraq tonight. I am thinking about all those brave young men and women in the US and British armed forces whose lives are on the line, and send them my warm support. And I am thinking about all the innocent Iraqis in the line of fire, who fear what awaits them. I remain convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides."
Juan Cole, 3/19/03
I once emailed Professor Cole, asking him about this quote. He said he had taken the position in question 'before he knew that Bush was incompetent'. His explanation doesn't satisfy me for two reasons.
1. Nothing in war is a certainty; a historian like Cole should know this better than anyone. It is reprehensible to cheer-lead the march to war and jump ship at the first time of trouble, as Cole did. After failing to stop Saddam's slaughter of the Shia and Kurdish rebels after the '91 war, did America not owe it to the Iraqi people to at least give their elected government a chance to succeed? Our invasion of Iraq opened the gates of hell; did we not have a moral obligation (not to mention strategic imperative) to help close them?
2. Cole constantly speaks retrospectively of reasons why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq. Al Qaeda wasn't linked to Saddam, civil war was inevitable, "Western invasions of the Middle East don't go well". But even if Cole was wrong about Bush, he still should have known all of these things before the fact. He certainly pretends that he did.
I read Cole's blog regularly. He is almost as biased as Fox News, but to the opposite side. That being said, he still does know a lot, and so I will continue to read his blog (as much as I despise his incessant pessimism). Still, to see him pretend to have known all along what would happen in Iraq is too much for me to handle.