Monday, March 23, 2009

Roger Cohen

Roger Cohen is fast becoming one of my favorite columnists on foreign affairs. His attempt to bring a little sanity and reason back into our Middle-east policy and our national debate about Iran is quite refreshing, and perhaps predictably, he's been savaged in the press as a result. But the simple fact is that whenever a small cadre of right-wing ideologues gets a seemingly unshakable grip on one aspect of U.S. government policy and furthermore, get to dicatate all terms and bounds of our national discussion on their pet issue, the results are usually very bad for the country. This is true whether we're speaking of the gun lobby, the right-wing Cuban expatriate anti-Castro lobby, or the right-wing, Likudnik so-called "Israeli lobby." Today Cohen again speaks truth to power and notes that if we are to move ahead in the Middle East, the U.S. is going to have to play a role of honest broker, as opposed to Israel's muscle:

where, I asked [a Senior Israeli official], is Israel’s red line? “Once they get to 1,500 kilos [of enriched Uranium], nonproliferation is dead,” he said. And so? “It’s established that when a country that does not accept Israel’s existence has such a program, we will intervene.”

I think there’s some bluster in this. Israel does not want Obama to talk, talk, talk, so it’s suggesting military action could happen in 2009, within nine months.

Still, this much is clear to me: Obama’s new Middle Eastern diplomacy and engagement will involve reining in Israeli bellicosity and a probable cooling of U.S.-Israeli relations. It’s about time. America’s Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy has been disastrous, not least for Israel’s long-term security.

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