In the category of “today’s good news,” we can report that Yale’s Senior Appointments Committee voted down the appointment of Juan Cole to the faculty yesterday, and it wasn’t even close. Cole will not be appointed to the Yale faculty.
We are reminded, however, that a) there is still the case of the Taliban Man to decide; and b) while Cole won’t be joining the Yale faculty, the fact remains that Yale still does not have a senior faculty member in the history of the modern (post-Caliphate) Middle East. That is pretty embarrassing, or at least it should be.
The appointment of Juan Cole to Yale from the University of Michigan would have been a disgrace; credit is due to Yale for having saved itself from the disgrace. And congratulations are due to AEI resident scholar/MEQ editor Michael Rubin, and to Eliana Johnson and Mitch Webber, Yale alumni all, who raised the red flag this past April regarding Cole’s pending appointment.
UPDATE: Asking “What are we, chopped liver?,” reader Bob Wilson writes:
Why would the “appointment” of Juan Cole to Yale be such a disgrace? Those of us U of M grads think it’s a worse disgrace that he’s still at Michigan, a school far better in every way than Yale (except in elitist propaganda). And we have a better football team too.
Michael Rubin takes issue with another point made above:
Technically, Abbas Amanat is a senior faculty member in the history department who does post-Caliphate Middle East (his field is 19th and early 20th century Iran). I may disagree with Abbas on some issues and found his New York Times commentary about the Iranian bomb dangerously naive (it’s all well and good to play up Persian nationalism, but does he really think Islam plays no role in Ahmandinejad’s thinking?), but he was a great teacher and, at least until I left in 1999, someone who studiously avoided politics; some people say this changed after 9/11.
What Yale doesn’t have–and what Cole was to be hired for–is a position that combines academic rigor with contemporary policy expertise, someone like Aaron Friedberg at Princeton.