To Juan Cole
to www.marxmail.org on
Dear Professor Cole,
I had a feeling that something was up when I discovered that
Chris Bertram had included a link to your article "The Third Baath Coup?" (http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/third-baath-coup-if-as-i-have-argued.html)
on the Crooked Timber blog (http://www.crookedtimber.org/).
It was intended to shore up pro-occupation opinion on the left, despite the
rapidly deteriorating situation. Bertram was cheered by your ambiguous
observation that in face of Baathist attacks on
government officials you fear that "the
Bertram also includes a link to "an open letter
circulated by Labour Friends of Iraq to protest
against the silence of
When you go to the open letter, you will discover that some
of the key figures behind it have been heavily involved in pushing for the
imperialist domination of
Bertram, of course, has a trajectory very similar to Magas and Hoare, who were both associated with the New Left Review before drifting off into Hitchensville. On the Crooked Timber website, we learn that Chris Bertram "was until recently the editor of Imprints: A Journal of Analytical Socialism, now (2002) in its seventh year of publication and before that was once on the editorial committee of New Left Review, before resigning, along with nearly everyone else." He adds, "These days I find the description 'egalitarian liberal' fits me better than 'socialist', but there's lots of complicated autobiographical, cultural and theoretical stuff there which I won't go into here." I'd say thank goodness he didn't go into all that "complicated" stuff, for at least to these ears "the god that failed" was a stale tune by the 1960s, although obviously good for career advancement in the intelligentsia.
On the question of Hadi Saleh, I am gratified to see that you have not jumped on
the bandwagon to condemn the antiwar movement for not having
"confessed" to the crime of supporting the CP leader's killing. If indeed
you are interested in reading a powerful defense of the antiwar movement, I'd
refer you to the
The recent spate of
attacks by Johann Hari, Nick Cohen and Labour Friends of
1) Proximity in time (choreography).
2) Repetition of false claims (reading from a script).
3) Hysterical tone (histrionics).
I just want to conclude with an observation about the need
for the left in general and leftist academics to eschew ambiguity. Turning to
your blog entry, you say, "The police chiefs of many cities have been
killed or kidnapped, or members of their family have, such that many more have
just resigned, often along with dozens of their men. The
Am I projecting too much into your analysis when I say that
you insinuate that the
In any case, I do hold you in the highest regard even when you are ambiguous or wrong.