Michael Totten

Okay, So I Guess He Existed

A few days ago I was invited on to a radio show to discuss the hit on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I tentatively agreed to be interviewed with the caveat that I had visited parts of Iraq where Zarqawi used to live and, um, work, but that I have never been to the places Zarqawi had terrorized lately. I didn’t want to be asked any questions from an interviewer who thought I knew more than anyone else who followed the Zarqawi story from far away.
Some people are experts, but I’m not. Thing is, neither are some of the experts. Some “experts” have a real command of the factoids but have a hard time with the basics.
Take Juan Cole, for example. He’s supposed to know everything, at least compared with those of us who can’t read Farsi (etc.). But he recently said he doubted Zarqawi even existed. (See also here.)
IraqPundit, an Iraqi living in exile, sends him up:

In the wake of the news that Zarqawi had been killed, something that everybody on all sides agreed was accurate, Cole seem to have decided that previous to his death, Zarqawi must have existed after all.

I did not have to visit red zone Iraq to know that Zarqawi existed. Some things you can just trust. I never trusted the existence of Zarqawi quite the same way I trusted the existence of, say, Nebraska. But it never occured to me that Zarqawi might be the Loch Ness Monster or the Bigfoot of the Terror War.