Why We All Need to Read Juan Cole

My friend and tireless man of conscience Cotty Chubb forwarded me this article by Juan Cole and I agree with Cotty that the Democratic leadership desperately needs to heed this expert’s advice. Professor Cole’s call for an intelligent withdrawl (not to be confused with “intelligent design”) strikes the necessary balance between compassion for the plight of Iraqis after we’ve gone and an understanding that we are more part of the problem than the solution in Bush’s ungodly Middle-Eastern mess.

Of course I was also delighted to see that Professor Cole basically agreed with my post on the subject, but I’m just a lowly civilian who once wrote a cable movie for Whoopi Goldberg (as my most strident HuffPost detractors delight in reminding me) and not a well-respected international- affairs expert. What is key about Professor Cole’s argument is that a withdrawl of most of our troops on the ground is in no way cutting and running and does not need to weaken our (already miserably low) standing in the court of world opinion. With air power nearby we can insure that any Baathist thugs massing any significant amount of troops anywhere in the country would be decimated just like we did at the start of the war. Of course Shiites will have to do a much better job appeasing Sunni moderates, however we need to make it clear to all parties concerned that we will never ever allow an unreconstructed Baath party to again terrorize that nation.

In this regard Professor Cole and I are more moderate than some who have called for an immediate withdrawl out of Iraq without, I feel, taking into account how horrible the Sadaam regime really was and how horrible Iraqis might suffer if we don't withdrawl intelligently. Still, I draw a sharp line between where I stand and where moderates like Christopher Hitchens, Michael Ignatieff, Thomas Friedman (and the rest of the New York Times), Hilary Clinton and Joe Lieberman stand. They all stand in a pool of Iraqi and American blood. I blame them more than I do the Bushies because the former are not supposed to be either card-carrying imbeciles or toadies for international conglomerates for whom a good war is great business. Without the help of these Democratic moderates many of whom were trying to out-hawk the hawks for future political capital, Bush would not so easily have cakewalked us into this catastrophe.

On the other side, though I was adamantly against invading in the first place, and of course realize that Sadaam's Iraq was only one of about a dozen truly awfully repressive governments around the globe, I nevertheless get more than a little creeped out when some of us on the left call the insurgents "the resistance" and glamorize these Baathist death squads murdering hundreds of Iraqis a week.

That old chestnut is false. The enemy of my enemy isn't my friend. If we want to pull the center in with us we need to remember that.

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