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November 30, 2005


Barry Meislin

Thanks to Juan Cole indeed.

the aardvark

Is Tony back to Juan Cole bashing? How sad. He's so much more interesting when he keeps his Cole obsession under control and writes about serious things.

Honestly, if Juan didn't exist we would have to invent him just to drive a certain class of people nuts.


Oh come on Marc, spare me the condescension. There was a very specific matter of news involved in that post that was left out entirely by Cole, and the conclusion he offered his readers had no resemblence to the article he quoted (without a link of course); a conclusion, I might add, that has morphed into truth for him as he's repeated it a couple of times since, and it has no basis in reality. I happen to think that telling your readers that the Iraqi government agreed in the Cairo statement that it was ok to blow up American soldiers (this is verbatim from Cole) is actually a "serious thing" and quite unrelated to any supposed "obsession."

Anyway, as you may have noticed, my Cole-related posts have dropped down significantly ever since he became relegated to his natural niche doing interviews for Kos-TV and such. In other words, ever since the MSM and PBS figured out that he's unreliable. (Poor David Ignatius learned that the hard way when made the mistake of quoting him on the Zarqawi "Shiite forgery" thing, where Cole insisted that the language was Shiite, only to find out that the quote he used was later deleted by Cole!)

But I guess I should thank you for the compliment embedded in there as well.

the aardvark

Tony, didn't mean to be condescending - more disappointed. You've got a lot of interesting things to say about Syria and Lebanon, even if I disagree with a lot of them.

But the Cole stuff... seriously, if you have something positive to say of your own (and you do), then blogging about another blogger should be beneath you. Wouldn't you rather be "the guy who knows everything about Lebanon" than "the guy who fisked Juan Cole" or "the guy who made fun of Asad AbuKhalil's hair"?

Or, god forbid, the guy who posts pictures of Haifa Wehbi and other nubile young pop tarts?


Again, though, you oversimplify what I do. A few cynical posts notwithstanding, when I do make fun of AbuKhalil it's always accompanied with a substantial counter argument (my critique of his Historical Dictionary, for instance, inter alia, all have substantive counter arguments about Lebanon). I use AbuKhalil as a launching pad (insert hair joke here if you must). He represents a particular outlook on Lebanon, one that's rather widespread I'm afraid, that is really faulty in several ways. It's a natural excercise really, you take a particular thesis and you set out to disprove it, counter it, disagree with parts of it, etc. The jokes are extra, and really they are triggered by one thing and one thing only, the nature and style of the person in question. The condescending tone of AbuKhalil gets him the sarcastic smack down.

Same applies for Cole. And again, it wasn't simply a matter of "fisking" Cole (as tempting as that may be). Cole poses as the be-all on Iraq (which is another reason why I NEVER present myself as the guy who knows everything about ANYTHING, let alone Lebanon. Not to imply that this is what you meant. But thank you, I respectfully decline!), and then throws something that's quite obviously false (but his audience doesn't have access to Arabic). It's part of the public debate. It's wrong, and I presented what the article actually said. Why that should be beneath me, I don't know. I mean I see your point when there's excess (and yes, I admit to the pleasures of excess!), but this shouldn't mean that legitimate criticism is off the table, especially when it's a matter of dishonesty (in AbuKhalil's case, I once happened on a review he wrote of William Harris' book on Lebanon. It was a veritable warehouse of falsities. I mean it was the weirdest thing. He criticizes him for supposedly saying something. Provides the page number. I go check it out, and it's not even close!! He made it up! So I use it as a hook.)

But finally, the thing that really annoyed me about your comment --and I must say I'm both hurt and incredibly shocked -- was that you had the audacity to say that you disagree with much of what I write about Lebanon and Syria. How dare you sir? Do you know that I speak Arabic!? (I just had to throw that in there!)

But your point is taken.


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