You Heard it Here First
by Alex Joffe • November 2, 2005
The other day I commented on Juan Cole's Grand Unified Theory of Conspiracies to Invade Everywhere in Order to Defend Israel. And so today, in an example of Life imitating Art, we have the following from the man himself:
That the Likud Party under Ariel Sharon is actual contracting Israel's boundaries, and the fact that Valerie Plame's name appeared in Joseph Wilson's Who's Who entry for a number of years, and above all that Bush himself has articulated Middle East policy from the top down, are no obstacles to the intrepid professor's theorizing.
As I said before, this is bad historical analysis. It begins with a premise that all things are causally connected to a single motivation – American protection of Israeli "expansionist ambitions" - and then proceeds to connect every conceivable item regardless of other contingencies. Obviously American support for Israel cannot be explained on the basis of shared values or interests, as opposed to, say, American relations with Saudi Arabia, based on a much narrower set of high octane interests, and virtually no values. Pluralism and tolerance, the democratic process, free speech, freedom of religion, women's rights, stuff like that.
As to the intelligence failure over Iraq, the fact that everyone got it wrong, in different countries and over different administrations, is too puzzling for Cole to try and understand rationally. The short answer is that we predict the past and remember the future (thank you Sir Lewis Namier), but this equation is too hard for most university professors to understand. Only a conspiracy will do.
But most of all, the fact that the key policies were made by elected officials is agonizing. Bush was elected (at least once), and that is one of the things Cole simply can't stand. Clearly in his mind Bush is so empty a vessel that policy could only have been made by whisperers and prevaricators in the Office of Special Plans. Hence the insults and conspiracies by dark Jewish forces. How Cole fits Saudi whisperers into the picture is unknown, but why didn't America simply invade Saudi Arabia in response to 9/11? Why choose a hard target? Any secret deals to give Saudi Arabia a pass? Of course not. Cole's analysis is so weighted to one side, with so many corresponding voids, that it it makes no sense.
As with a broad swath of the Middle East Studies class, Cole believes that Israel is the only world issue, that America is the only world culprit (largely for its support of Israel), and that these Great Truths are so clear that only Dark Forces inside and outside the government can be keeping the word from getting out. No other explanations will do. What kind of teacher does this make him, and the others? One wonders.
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