University of Michigan professor of modern Middle-Eastern history Juan Cole spoke Monday night at Ballantine Hall and heavily criticized the Bush administration's "War on Terror."
"The War on Terror is a misnomer," Cole said. "Terror is a technique. You can't make war on a tactic."
Cole, in his lecture, 'The War on Terrorism and Islam in Bush administration policy,' said the war in Afghanistan following the 2001 terror attacks was under-funded and could have used more special operations officers.
He also criticized the Bush administration's handling of the War in Iraq, saying he could not see any reasoning for it since no weapons of mass destruction have been discovered in the country.
"Iraq posed no danger to the United States -- everyone in Washington (D.C.) must have known that," Cole said. "What bothered me was when Bush started talking about the atomic stuff. The idea of Saddam Hussein with nukes is pretty scary. He's not a nice man, and he's a little flaky. It turns out there hasn't been a nuclear program since the 80s. The whole thing was a fraud."
Cole, who has written four books on the Mideast and toured the region several times, also warned current policy is spreading Muslim extremism.
"Iraq was a rather nasty one- party state, but it was secular," he said. "It seems clear to me that if elections were held there today religious groups would sweep to power."
Cole went on to call the idea Iraq can be "Americanized" in the coming months "the worst black eye for democracy since the Reichstag fire."
Those with Mideast connections, such as freshman Tariq Harani, who often travels with his family to Syria, said Cole's lecture was accurate but would have been considered "scathing" by many in the region.
"Usually you find people who are experts are not familiar with people behind the scenes, such as the ayatollahs and mullahs," Harani said. "The Arab world, though, would have found his words to be scathing because of (his) criticism of the way the governments there are run."
One of the major problems with the way the U.S. is viewed in the Middle East is the longstanding support for Israel, Cole said, calling the occupation in the West Bank "illegal."
Cole is currently on a list of allegedly biased professors on the pro-Israeli Web site www.campus-watch.org.
Junior Andrew Allred said he believed Cole gave a "modest criticism" of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
"He's merely making the point that the occupation is illegal under international law," Allred said. "Israel has used brutal tactics, but so have the Palestinians. You can't pick one side over the other."