Juan Cole, U. Michigan’s infamous Middle East specialist, strikes again

Prof. Cole, whose regional specialty overlaps with terrorism, ought to know a thing or two about the subject.

Ought to.

But doesn’t.

His latest op-ed, written for The Nation (a small but influential left-wing publication) is entitled:

Ariana Grande Understands Counterterrorism Better Than Jim Mattis

Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis said in an interview on Sunday that US strategy toward ISIL has moved from attrition to annihilation. Since 2014, he said, the United States has been making it difficult for them to stay in one place, disrupting them and chasing them out of their strongholds (through airstrikes). Now, he said, the new strategy is to surround them and kill them all, to prevent the foreign fighters from returning home to foment more terrorism. –Juan Cole in The Nation

The problem with that strategy, says Cole, is that ISIL/ISIS seeks such “polarization.” This leads the hyperbolic Cole to metaphoric self-immolation:

The strategy of annihilation is sort of like fighting forest fires with gasoline hoses. –Juan Cole

Cole concludes by strongly endorsing Ariana Grande’s tweet, which favors  “compassion, kindness, love, strength and oneness,” which are “the exact opposite of the heinous intentions” of the Manchester terror bombers.



  • Ariana Grande’s compassion is wonderful. So is her bravery in returning to Manchester.
  • There are serious debates among counter-terrorism specialists about the right mix of lethal force and incentives, the right balance between restrained rules of engagement and permissive ones
  • But thinking that holding hands in a circle around Mosul, putting “COEXIST” bumper stickers on our drones, and singing “All we are saying is give peace a chance” is not a winning strategy.

If you think so, then drive through any of these extremist Muslim areas with a bumper sticker that includes a Star of David and a Cross. Drive around Europe or the US with that sticker, no problem. Drive around Saudi Arabia or Iran,no head.

And slinging mud at Gen. Mattis is disgusting. And it demeans Cole, not Mattis, to say the SecDef knows less about strategy than a pop singer in her early 20s.

Cole has earned a reputation for vitriolic criticism of the United States and even more vitriolic hatred of Israel. He is a poster child for everything that is wrong with Middle Eastern studies in US universities.

His latest op-ed burnishes that well-earned reputation.


1 Comment
  • Tim Favero
    June 2, 2017

    I really do not understand most academicians these days (no offense Charles, as I said “most” and my brother is one also), but Professor Cole seems like he is interested more in attention than making a case for such a specious argument.

    Well, now that his “opinion” is out there in cyber-space, it’s going to stay there and will be a constant source of ignorance and embarassment for him.

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