Jonathan Chait may at times be smarmy and annoying, but credit where it is due; when he is on, he is on. Chait’s evisceration of Juan Cole is a must-read.
Of course, it shouldn’t take the likes of Chait to point out that if all one has on the likes of Jeffrey Goldberg is that he once volunteered to serve with the IDF, then one cannot really be said to have cornered Goldberg in any debate. Indeed, there is something a little pitiful in Cole’s constant harping on the fact that Goldberg served in the IDF; the effect of that constant harping is to signal to readers of even average intelligence that when all is said and done, Cole has nothing more to offer against Goldberg than to bring up this non-issue.
The rest of Cole’s efforts at argument fare no better, of course. When he is not busy trying to remind people that Goldberg served in the IDF, Cole resorts to deliberately misleading his audience about Goldberg’s arguments and motives. I know that there are plenty of people on the Left who like Cole’s views, and who therefore are predisposed to presenting Cole as an expert on the Middle East. But that doesn’t mean that they ought to be allowed to get away with it.