August 19, 2004
Sadr, but not wiser
What happens when you earn degree after degree after degree, then accept a tenure-track faculty position? You get a constipated academic who can pontificate but has no real world knowledge or experience. Juan Cole is an example. He's educated but that's about all that can be said for him. I have friends who get their political notions from his blog. While I usually just shake my head and find a credible source, sometimes a reaction is necessary. Here's an excerpt from a blog link that was sent to me. It is Cole's reaction to a New York Times report.
"I studied colonial history with John S. Galbraith of UCLA, who was known for emphasizing the "Man on the Spot." That is, colonial officials and military men out in Malaya or Africa often made policy without reference to London. (Much of India was acquired in this way. It is amusing to go back and read the cautions of the British cabinet to British governors-general of the 18th century not to conquer more territory without permission).
If Berenson and Burns are right, American Men on the Spot are making crucial policy decisions that have the potential to affect the lives of all Americans and all Muslims. The Marines in Najaf were acting like just another militia, engaging in a local turf war with Muqtada and his men, and giving no thought to the consequences of behaving barbarically in the holy city of Najaf.
Helena Cobban subjects the NYT article to a searching analysis that is well worth reading. She argues that the Najaf attack shows a Marine corps out of control and a command structure that is a "tangled mess" and in which US Ambassador John Negroponte played a sinister role, supporting the initial Marine miscalculation in the Najaf attack. [addendum 10:45 am].
Readers sometimes complain to me that Muslims seem to have lots of holy cities and lots of mosques, so is Najaf really all that special? O.K., here are the holy cities in order of holiness: Mecca, Medinah, Jerusalem, Najaf, Karbala. Najaf and Karbala are especially holy to Shiites. There are other holy sites and cities, of course, but they are mostly sacred because of association with later saints. The five I just mentioned are sacred because of their direct association with the Prophet Muhammad, his son-in-law and vicar, Ali, and his grandson, Husain.
The Shrine of Ali is a tomb, and although it has a mosque attached to it, it is not just a mosque. It is a Shrine. Like the shrine of the Prophet Muhammad in Medinah or the shrine of Imam Husain in Karbala, it is a sacred resting place of holy remains. A lot of mosques could be damaged with impunity. These shrines cannot.
The ignoramus Marines in Najaf clearly don't know all this, and since they don't know it they don't have any business making military policy there. They have endangered all Americans profoundly by potentially spurring a whole new wave of Shiite terrorism against us, recalling the bad old days of the early to mid-1980s (when some of our present allies in Iraq, like al-Da`wa and SCIRI were attacking US targets like the embassy in Kuwait or helping take Americans captive in Beirut)."
I wonder if Cole has ever stood face to face or conversed with a U.S. Marine. I have. I've talked with a number of Marines from all ranks and I've never met an "ignoramus" yet, especially at the Battalion Commander level. The Marines who are on the ground and in the middle of the battle have a perspective that someone who stays safely in an ivory tower will never realize.
If Cole is an expert on Islam, he should realize that when a mosque or a shrine is used as a base for staging battle, it loses its protected status. The revered Ayatollah al-Sistani has implicitly concurred with this assessment. Even so, the Marines have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid damaging shrines and mosques in all holy cities.
The 1/7 Marines who spent 7 months in the An Najaf province last year effectively contained and neutralized Sadr. They realized that he was a wanna-be cleric who was at most tolerated and mostly disliked by the Shiite Muslims in Najaf, a power-hungry punk who is most likely responsible for the murders of potential rivals Abdul Majid al-Khoei and Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim. When 1/7 Marines left for home last September, they knew that Sadr's quest for power and influence would continue to be a problem. But, the Army took over control of the region and ignored Sadr for months as he built his militia and power base, much like they did with Fallujah. When the 11th MEU arrived on the ground, they found a mess, much like that in Fallujah. And, like Marines have done for nearly 229 years, they cleaned house. It's long overdue. Sadr needs to be removed - one way or another - now.
Grousing by the Army should be taken with a very large grain of salt. If they had done their job, arriving Marines would have had a much easier time. And carping by an academic far removed from the battlefield is absurd.
Cole's vitae states "I also offer with fair regularity an upper-level class, History 542 Modern Iran and the Gulf States." His word choice is unfortunate; he is so full of it that regularity seems to be an ongoing problem for him.
Posted by Deb at August 19, 2004 01:02 AM
Juan Cole is an elitist intellectual pantywaist. He's never had to earn a real living getting his hands dirty let alone has the intestinal fortitude to stand watch with an A-2 in his hands like the very people he derides.
The man is a coward and intestinally bankrupt. You can add intellectually dishonest to the list. He's the kind of guy I wish we could get "embedded" but he'd pass out after 100 feet of moving in 115 degree heat. Probably break a nail too!
This folks is the "sensitive" approach to warfighting. Welcome to the New World Order according to Juan "Gump" Cole! Calling him an idiot would be doing a disservice to the word!
Mental image of the day: America comes under attack from jihadists everywhere and Juan Cole is our last line of defense!
Hate to say it Deb but if your friends believe anything this asshat espouses I'd be looking for new friends! :-o
Posted by: JarheadDad at August 19, 2004 07:51 AM
You gals KICK ASS!!!! Capt J. Chris Smythe, 4tMAW ALD PLANS OFFICER here, and, being a convert from the MSM to the Blogosphere, I cannot tell you how incredibly heartening it is to see this blog OOH RAAHH!!!!
I am currently trapped behind a desk (a REMF...ask your sons what that means if you don't already know) but I keep up as much as I can. As a member of the Wing, things have slowed down for us compared to the ground side, but I do have some time with the grunts, and I can't tell you how much I'd like to pick up a weapon and start walking east.
No matter what, no matter how much hatemail you get, cowboy the f**k up and keep on keepin' on. You are part of the family, and we take care of our own. Anything I can do for you, just get me at my email address. It's my home address, but I check it every evening. Again, congrats on the blog and DONT. EVER. STOP.
Capt Chris Smythe
Posted by: Capt Smythe at August 20, 2004 11:14 AM
WOW! I love reading these responses! Makes designing this site all worth while! You go girls!! Thanks for the the response Chris!
Posted by: Sean (site webmaster) at August 24, 2004 01:14 AM