There aren't enough hours in a lifetime to catalog all the ways war cheerleader and occasional military/CIA briefer Juan Cole is stupefyingly wrong on any given day. Really, what can you do with someone whose level of naivete reaches dizzying heights like this?
But here I agree with President Obama and his citation of Reinhold Niebuhr. You can’t protect all victims of mass murder everywhere all the time. But where you can do some good, you should do it, even if you cannot do all good. [...] Moreover, those who question whether there were US interests in Libya seem to me a little blind. The US has an interest in there not being massacres of people for merely exercising their right to free assembly.
Yes, he should be sure to mention to those corpses of protesters in US allies Bahrain and Yemen how dedicated Obama is to "doing some good" and opposing "massacres of people for merely exercising their right to free assembly." And when Cole goes on to talk about an entity that has "played a sinister role in Africa, bankrolling brutal dictators and helping foment ruinous wars," you'll be unsurprised to learn that he's not referring to the United States (in general, and the Obama administration in particular, which tried to instruct Egyptians to keep its faithful dictator Mubarak in place right up to the bitter end)—but to nefarious supervillian Moammar Qaddafi.
In a way I envy Cole; my mundane reality is no match for the exciting fantasyland he's constructed for himself, where Barack Obama vanquishes evil dictators because of his deep commitment to freedom of assembly. I was thinking we shouldn't tell him there's no Santa Claus just in case he's still holding on to that one as well—no need to be cruel, after all—but I'm confident he could convince himself that the Santa evidence is overwhelming.
BONUS: One of Cole's "top myths" about the attack on Libya is that "the United States led the charge to war", a fanciful notion which Cole dismisses by saying "there is no evidence for this allegation whatsoever." Probably a true statement in his mind, since I'm sure he's carefully expunged unpleasantly contradictory facts like this from his magical world:
At the end of the Tuesday night meeting, Obama gave U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice instructions to go the U.N. Security Council and push for a resolution that would give the international community authority to use force. Her instructions were to get a resolution that would give the international community broad authority to achieve Qaddafi's removal, including the use of force beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone.
That Tuesday evening was March 15th, by the way, and on the 17th the Security Council passed the war resolution Obama had just instructed Rice to push for. This might strike less creatively-motivated observers as some sort of causal relationship, but Juan Cole has trained himself to recognize it as the utterly meaningless coincidence that it is.