Thursday, February 03, 2005

Al-Jazeera's From Washington Program hosted Fouad Ajami, Ghassan Atiyyah (an Iraqi opposition figure whose support for US war has been decreasing), and Juan Cole of the University of Michigan. Juan Cole was excellent. It was also respectful of him to apologize, in Arabic, to Arab viewers for not speaking in Arabic. As I told him, I wished he had more speaking time but he managed to make all the important points in the program. Ajami had nothing to say in response to Cole's well-made arguments excpet to brag that he has been to Iraq. He basically said (and he has made that point in an interview on AlARabiyya) that nobody can talk on Iraq unless he/she (Ajami does not speak or write in gender-neutral language) has been there. Does that then not nullify anything he says about Arab countries that he never visited, or about Iraq prior to his visit? He kept talking about his communications with Gen. Petraeus and his one-month stay in Iraq. The very able, and very objective moderator, Hafidh Al-Mirazi--and I do not know personally or as a viewer what his views are--, asked him: "so you were embedded?" Ajami said:"No, I was free lance." But on AlArabiyya Ajami had said that he went with Wolfowitz. I was glad that Cole reminded Arabs that the Bush administration was opposed to elections in Iraq, and that Iraqis insisted on elections. He also made the point that the insurgency was the product US actions, misdeeds, and mistakes in Iraq.