Having read your Nov. 5 article "Expert: Mideast relations clouded with misconceptions," I have to take exception to University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole's pronouncements regarding the Middle East Muslims' position and their opinion regarding the U.S. presence.
The academic position he espouses is a long way from the reality I experienced during my yearlong posting to northern Saudi Arabia. At best, Westerners, specifically Americans, are tolerated as long as we are providing a service they cannot or are unwilling to perform. Middle East residents in general are more than happy when we do the heavy lifting and take all the risks to preserve their way of life while they denigrate ours.
In all fairness, there may have been many folks within the ranks who composed a silent minority who supported our principles, but I doubt they volunteered their opinions for polling purposes. The hard fact is that the well-connected upper class, coupled with the exceedingly rich, controls the political direction and destiny of those in the lower economic classes.
If Cole is an expert in Middle East studies, he needs to become an expert in Middle East reality before he next attempts to lecture to us unwashed masses!