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Juan Cole: How Muslims Became the Enemy
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Here’s a story that’s never left my mind. Back in 2011, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis was the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversaw the war on terror across the Greater Middle East, and he was obsessed with Iran. He cooked up a scheme to launch a strike to take out either an Iranian oil refinery or power plant in the “dead of night,” an act of war meant to pay that country back for supplying mortars to Iraqi insurgents killing American troops. And in those years, when asked by President Obama to “spell out his top priorities” in the region, the general reportedly replied: “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.” His Iranophobic obsession finally unnerved the Obama administration enough that, in 2013, he was removed from his CENTCOM post five months early.

I bring up this ancient history only because these days Mattis, reportedly in danger of being ditched by the president after the mid-term elections, has proven to be just about the only “adult in the room” in Washington when it comes to Iran — and doesn’t that just speak worlds about the Trump administration? After all, the president’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has wanted to bomb that country since something like the dawn of time, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are both Iranophobes (as well as Islamophobes) of the first order, as is the president who has already torn up the nuclear pact the Obama administration negotiated with Iran and seems to be careening toward some kind of a conflict there. If so, given the American experience of the last 17 years in the region, what could possibly go wrong? As British journalist Patrick Cockburn ominously pointed out recently, “The exaggeration of ‘the Iranian threat’ by the Trump administration this week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York was very like what was being said about Iraq 15 years earlier.”

As the redoubtable Juan Cole, whose iconoclastic new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires, has just been published, makes clear today, Donald Trump and the congressional Republicans have wielded Islamophobia domestically the way the anticommunists of my childhood once did McCarthyism. When you stop to think about it for a moment, they might be considered addicts on the subject: they just can’t keep away from it or get enough of it. And here’s the weirdest thing of all: yes, their Islamophobic program is to keep you know who out of this country, and that’s often noted, but it seems, as well, to have another goal: to keep us in the Greater Middle East, militarily, until hell freezes over. After all, even under a president who once decried the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve never made it out of either place. We’re now more or less permanently in Syria as well and seemingly no less permanently enmeshed in the Saudi war in Yemen. Next stop: Iran?

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump 
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  1. As the redoubtable Juan Cole, whose iconoclastic new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires, has just been published, makes clear today, Donald Trump and the congressional Republicans have wielded Islamophobia domestically the way the anticommunists of my childhood once did McCarthyism.

    Maybe I’ll look this one up and read how Muhammad, an Arab supremacist and tribal chief who brutally homogenized numerous cultures from North Africa to sub-continental Asia, was the “Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires.” Maybe I’ll find out about the friendly relations between Arabs and Persians and how much Levantines love their Peninsular fellow Muslims as well. Or maybe I’ll just read the “Arabian Nights” and other myths.

    • Replies: @Oleaginous Outrager
  2. ‘Next stop: Iran?’

    An Iran war would be the end for us: morally, economically, spiritually, strategically, practically. That it wouldn’t do Iran much good either won’t help us.

  3. But…McCarthy was right.

    • Replies: @Saxon
  4. G. Poulin says:

    Muslims have been the enemy ever since Mohammed declared war on the entire human race outside of his sect.

  5. @The Anti-Gnostic

    Jesus and the apostles were renowned for the slaughter of their enemies too, right?

    The battle also established the position of Ali ibn Abi Talib as the best fighter among the Muslims, as he alone killed 22 Meccans, while the rest of the Muslims combined killed 27 Meccans.

    I’m guessing the ‘peace’ Muhammad was ‘prophesying’ was the same as the one Tacitus lamented in Agricola.

  6. Ignore the Islamophobes. Thanks for the piece.

  7. Lin says:

    No religions are particularly violent or peaceful and they all meshed with tribal and racial politics but some are more obvious:
    –Judaism: Does ‘chosen people’ ring a bell?
    –Hinduism: An apartheid pyramid scheme that places the brahmins at the top with all ‘spirituality’ sugar coating like reincarnation, ‘meditaion’ … You’re a dalit sewage diver and life is miserable?Too bad you had done evil in your past life and the best way to avoid similar fate in your next life is to worship the brahmins and the holy cows.
    –(Sunni)islam is basically a vehicle of arab power and had been very successful until recent centuries. Through Islam, arabs have emerged from uncohesive tribes in the Middle East to form a major civilization.
    All the Islamic taboos,halal diet, polygamy,dos and don’ts are originally arab cultural components.
    (Being said,I’m NOT against Islam bcos arabs are entitled to their tribal/racial aspiration..)
    The main difference between Judaism and islam is that the former could be just racial, so even atheist jews are counted as tribal members while apostasy in islam is like race treason. Because such exposition of arab nationalism is sanctified or (made)holy, so it’s difficult to reform; there has been no successful de-arabisation movement of islam. It’s impossible for the arabs to leave (sunni)islam behind. It’s their only major civilizational pillar.

  8. TheJester says:

    Having spent 14 years associated with or working one-on-one among Muslims in the Middle East, my conclusion is that Juan Cole’s description of Islam is a chimera. If the “prophet of peace” is what Muhammed intended, it never took root. There are plenty of references in the Koran documenting Muhammed’s brutal conquest of the Arabian peninsula … similar to Old Testament references highlighting the brutal Jewish conquest of Canaan:

    Old Testament — Numbers 31:17-18 KJB
    Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Koran Verse (9.5)
    And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

    Both citations are excused by adherents as being taken out of context. Moses and Muhammed were not serious. For example, these were only exhortations to encourage men before battle … or, something like that.

    The “facts on the ground”, however, tell us otherwise when one takes a historical look at the ideologies, behaviors, and policies of Jewish and Muslim communities. Their contempt for non-believers — men, women, and children — is abominable.

    In my years in the Middle East, I made it a challenge to try to find ONE pious Muslim who took his religion seriously as a formula for righteous living. I found ONE. His most notable attribute: he refused to take bribes and despised those who did. For the rest, religion was a thin cover for financial and personal self-aggrandizement.

    As a generalization, contemporary Muslim communities in the Middle East are held together by “Mafiosos” sanctioned by religious authorities … the “Mafiosos” who control the guns and the liberal distribution of oil-generated cash to their supporters.

  9. Saxon says:
    @donald j tingle

    Don’t let that pesky fact stop you from drinking the same kool-aid as this deranged author who’s here to tell you why things like demographic imperialism against your in your country as well as Islamic sex slavery gangs in England are wonderful and how only goose-stepping, swastika tattooed neo-nazi thugs would be against such a development.

    Nobody would care about these people if they weren’t in our countries posing a physical existential threat, and if a hostile alien elite didn’t have control over our governments to wage wars in their lands for their own interests.

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
  10. Not much point in readingJuan Cole’s article if it is based on

    their Islamophobic program is to keep you know who out of this country

    This statement alone demonstrates Engelhardt is a globalist shill. The question is why should “you know who” and a myriad of other “you know whos” be here in the first place? The issue is immigration policy, not necessarily immigrants, and phobia has nothing to do with it. Former British colonies, including the US, were never meant to be multiracial or multicultural, and the early immigration laws enacted reflected that. Globalists want cheap labour and an end to people who can think for themselves. There is a reason globalists want Muslims pouring into the West. They are smart enough to train for many laws, but are obedient to the imams, who are easily controlled through baksheesh. Who are the masters of baksheesh? Well, here’s a hint: they own the US Congress.

  11. @Saxon

    Don’t let that pesky fact stop you from drinking the same kool-aid…

    Flavor Aid actually ; )

  12. Jason Liu says:

    Leftists are far bigger enemies. See: The author

  13. George says:

    Juan Cole senses the times have changed. If I remember right Cole thought replacing Saddam Hussain was just dandy, still does. The rumors that Saddam could have been paid off to liberalize Iraq or even abdicate doesn’t get discussed much. Cole seems to me to be an apologist for the Iraqistan fiasco.

    Back when Trump was against foreign wars Cole wanted to let you know Iraqistan was a better alternative to Hussain:

    No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn’t be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators

  14. Christo says:

    Must be young. First off , it is “Moslems” , should not be concerned that some pc nut group got it changed and the deep state went along. Except to realize that was when the deep state started to use terrorism as a propaganda weapon , largely covering up terrorism unless it furthered the goal of the deep state.

    Second as your knowledge of “ancient history” seems to only go back 16-17 years the demonization of Moslems started when Iran had their revolution, throwing out the Shah. It has since only been used to apply to Iran, i.e. Shia Moslems , aka Persians.

    You are either too young, or have a memory problems , so your ignorance is to be excused unless you are presenting such misinformation on purpose . The only “Islamophobia” presented in the MSM is to cover the the crimes of Sunni terrorists and Moslem rapists as talking bad about them is racist. However “Iranophia” is presented as totally justified, given Iran is an enemy of Israel, excuse me , the United States – lackeys of the aforementioned.

    Love how Google says Moslems is misspelled,as if before 25 years ago never happened, except for slavery and the Holy H .

  15. How Muslims Became the Enemy? Cole begins his answer in 2011. He should have reached back a bit farther, to oh, lets say Battle of Badr or earlier. Islam has always been the enemy, of all humanity. Apologists like Cole have some heavy lifting to do sweeping 15 centuries under the rug.

  16. yehway says:

    Had an interesting interaction last night in my kick-boxing class. Bill–who seemed to have a better than average grasp of the political situation–when asked what he thought about the demise of Haley–responded that “her toughness was a necessary factor in trump’s negotiations”. I responded that perhaps some of that was true– but then cited her blocking of any condemnation of Israel’s murdering and maiming of unarmed Palestinians during the Jerusalem issue: He then looked at me with the confused look of lost child, which was replaced with a look aggression: He said nothing.

    Bill had gone over to the other side. You have probably noticed a growing condemnation of Islam creeping in to the public discourse. So if the Jews can’t stop the rapidly growing so-called “antisemitism” [see Jordan Peterson at Balfour dedication with his protegee Erza Levant: both complain of growing antisemitism as the primary issue on today's college campuses] so they have decided to replace the despicable jew with the despicable Muslim [and of course the 73 year propaganda campaign against the Germans is still very much in play]: No one ever said that these people weren’t resilient.

    I’ll take it a step further–Trump gets to do most of what he wants–as long as he doesn’t interfere with the demonization of the Muslim. It’s a win/win–in that Trump gains support from the American citizenry because of his accomplishments in his Make America Great theme–while his reluctance to to distance himself from the anti-Muslim campaign is then seen as potentially prudent– given his successes in the other domains: The Muslim becomes the Trump card. Of course, the displaced and desperate [and also the criminal, i.e., Cuba's release of criminals to the US] immigrants– many of whom are Semitic peoples–aren’t engendering support for their cause–when they are raping and pillaging in Europe [Yahweh--the God of Chaos].

    So that’s the macro plan with the rest–Kavanaugh, Hailey, Mueller, McCann, etc.–just rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It a shame that Islam is so quiet and secretive–whereas, the Ahoutti gets to tell their story–and if my theory is correct– the estimated 4 million Muslims killed since the false-flag 9/11–will pale in comparison to the next Israeli campaign for Greater Israel. See Free Mason Albert Pike’s prediction of WWIII [The war must be conducted in such a way that Islam (the Moslem Arabic World) and political Zionism (the State of Israel) mutually destroy each other.]:

    We are all at risk if we don’t discuss the historical enmity between the Jew and the Gentile.


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