Juan Cole Points at Failures in United States
|Professor Juan Cole
In his lecture entitled "The Great Unraveling: United States Foreign
Policy in the Post-Cold War Middle East," Professor Juan Cole argued
that United States foreign policy failures largely outweigh the successes
of the Bush administration's war on terror in the Muslim and Arab East.
Held on December 18 in West Hall, the talk was arranged by the Prince
al Waleed bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR).
Cole, who is a professor of history at the University of Michigan, said
there are two misconceptions that the United States has systematically
disseminated about Islam in "an insidious attempt to demonize the
Muslim world as a breeder of terrorism." He pointed out that contrary
to their portrayal in the American media, Middle Eastern regimes are actually
opposed to radical Muslim fundamentalism, even if their Muslim citizenry
has become "a recruitment pool" for terrorist organizations
like Al Qaeda. He also pointed out that as 2007 closes, the world's Muslim
countries, with the obvious exceptions of Syria and Iran, are either pro-American
conservative or pro-American secular countries. Therefore, for the United
States to view the Middle East as "a menace to American security"
rather than as "a region bristling with friends" is holistically
Cole reminded the audience that America's only enemy in the world today,
Al Qaeda, was once supported by the United States. at the peak of its
cold war with Russia in a bid to curb Russian influence in Muslim Afghanistan.
He delineated the tactical victory of the Bush administration in Afghanistan
and said this victory has been severely compromised by the continued impunity
of Al Qaeda leaders Bin Laden and Al Zawahiri, as well as by the immediate
emergence of warlord rule and large-scale poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
The American-led war on Iraq was waged on "extremely shaky pretenses",
according to Cole. He explained that this war stirred a wave of Sunni
Muslim anti-United States sentiment worldwide, resulting in incidents
of "Iraq-related terrorism" like the attacks on Spain in 2004.
Cole concluded that the deadly blow to United States credibility came
with the American announcements of American national intelligence in the
fall of 2007 regarding Iran's nuclear research program.
In clearly stating that Iran had ceased all nuclear weapon research since
2003 and was only interested in creating a nuclear reactor to produce
an alternative to its rapidly depleted petroleum reserves, American intelligence
dissipated the "George Bush and Dick Cheney hoax" aimed at garnering
public support for a war against Iran.
Professor Cole has written extensively about modern Islamic movements.
His most recent book, Sacred Space and Holy War, was published in 2002.
He has also written prolifically about modern Egypt, including a book,
Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East: Social and Cultural Origins
of Egypt's 'Urabi Movement.