I just finished watching Kos's interview on Evolve TV
. Kos really does a great job interviewing Cole, and Cole really explains what has gone on, and what is now going on, in Iraq and the middle east in a spin-free and informative manner.
Go watch the interview here. If you don't have Quicktime7, get it here (if you are on Windoze like I am). You will need Quicktime 7 to see this video quality at such a (comparatively) low data rate, for this video as well as more that will be available on the internet in the months to come. The new Quicktime version will not mess up your PC, as some previous versions are said to have the propensity to do.
A brief outline of the interview follows after the click...
The interview is organized into six chapters (kind of an odd coincidence, since my interview of Cole
that aired last Friday is in six parts, with an added trailer intro). Why do they call it a "trailer", since it comes first?
The chapters are as follows:
Kos does a great job painting a picture of Juan Cole's background and experience in the middle east. Cole talks about his years in Egypt, Pakistan, and Beirut (where he was a journalist in his younger years). They talk about how the blog got started, and how easy it is to provide the great detail Cole does in his blog (http://juancole.com) given that the arabic web newspapers come out the night before (our time) and given that Cole reads eight or nine languages.
II. Media bias
The drumbeat of the US press for the war, who basically obeyed the dictates of the administration. The blogosphere's right-wing pundits are also covered. Cole analyzes the reality of the Arabic press very well, describing the differences between various middle east media sources and explains their biases. The attacks against Cole by the right wing are lauded by Cole as giving him free advertising.
III. Shiite role
The Moqtada al Sadr are described by Cole as similar a ghetto urban gang, but with a puritan slant. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq is explained as a Shiite terrorist organization that started in Iranian the early 80's, and is now a party in Iraq - so Bush has achieved their goals for them since they did extremely well in the elections (half the provinces are now ruled by SCIRI). The Dawa party is described as largely Stalinist and the primary political enemy in the 80's inside Iraq (as opposed to SCIRI, which were expatriates).
IV. Kurd/Sunni Role
The politics and successes of Kurdistan are described in detail, with the parties as being outgrowths of the clans united against the rest of Iraq. Cole calls Kurdistan the nicest part of Iraq, with a lot of economic activity - would be better if petroleum production were not being interrupted by the Sunni resistance.
The Sunni groups are covered next. There are neo-baathist secular nationalist groups, religious groups (Salafi), and tribal groups. These latter are powerful especially due to the desire for revenge against the US for clan members having been killed.
V. Iran's involvement
Since SCIRI is dominant in the new Parliament and was headquartered in Tehran, and Dawa had a branch there, Cole describes that Iran has basically won in Iraq. He says that Iran is covertly is providing funding to these groups and overtly is offering aid and development money to Iraq. There is a Shiite-Iranian military alliance as well.
The bloody eight-year Iran-Iraq war is described, and the enmity of Iran and Saddam is causing Iran to be very happy with Bush - both for destroying the Baath rulers of Iraq as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan (who were also enemies of Saddam). So all of Ayatollah Khomeini's goals in the middle east have been achieved by Bush, and the elections in Iraq were a huge victory for Iran, which now wants to form an alliance with Iraq and Syria.
VI. The Blame Game
Who's to blame? Cole says George W. Bush, who the administration has put on a pedestal even though he himself has called a lot of the shots. Cole even says that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 :-)
Cole says that Bush is a very ad hoc leader, shooting from the hip. This worked for a while due to the size and wealth of the US, but has now failed miserably.
The topics covered in the interview are largely different than Cole and I covered in our interview that aired last week. We covered the political situation in the run-up to the war in much more detail and also talked in detail about how the US should proceed in getting out of Iraq.
The similarities of the two interviews are kind of weird. Both interview Juan Cole, of course. But both appeared at almost exactly the same time, both use quicktime, and both are divided into six chapters. But they covered complementary topics. Either there was covert collusion between Kos and me, or it's just an example of "great minds think alike". :-)
I think the coincidence is mainly due to unique aspects of this time in history. Technology (video compression and internet bandwidth) are allowing small groups (me and JessicaDrewSW in one case and Steve Garfield and his merry band in the other) to herald the overthrow of what I like to call the one-way media. It started with the blogs beginning to make the print press irrelevant. But now the addition of video threatens to reach the vast audience that gets most of it's news and views from television (this is the motivation behind my statement at the beginning of the introduction to my Cole interview "Iraq is a mess, and TV sucks."
You can watch my interview here. There are obvious problems with the video - you can see me better than you can see Prof. Cole (this is a somewhat the case in Kos's interview as well - they needed to focus the camera that showed Cole better). The main problem with my interview is the audio. These were due to equipment problems on-site that I cleaned up to some extent in post-production.
I will be re-airing my interview with Cole in a few days (probably Wednesday) with a version that has much-improved audio and an mp3 podcast version as well. I will also try to produce a Flash version that will play on virtually any computer, made possible by the ubiquity of Flash which, in turn, was driven by the profit motive (advertising :-). But please try to check out my interview, it shows well on many computers and there is much more detail (the whole thing is over an hour, with the average segment being about 13 minutes long).