Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Roger Cohen on Iran

Kudos to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. And not for the first time. Cohen was among the few liberal commentators who stated clearly and unambiguously that the horrors that have descended on Syria were largely caused by an Obama administration failure. Considering how few liberals were capable of saying the least critical word about their Messiah, Cohen’s remarks make him an honest man.

Now, while the liberal commentariat is horrified that President Trump is supporting a rebellion in Iran, and thereby showing up President Obama, (who sat out the 2009 Green Revolution,) Roger Cohen has bravely stepped forth to praise Donald Trump. With a few caveats, of course.

In today’s column Cohen wrote:

So Trump — even if he understands little or nothing of Iran, even if his talk of Iranian “human rights” sounds hollow from a sometime advocate of torture, even if his support of the Iranian people today is grotesque from the man who has wrongheadedly barred most Iranians from entering the United States — is right to speak up in solidarity and tweet that the “wealth of Iran is being looted” by a “brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” It is. Given where American-Iranian relations stand, there is not much downside to this bluntness.

Cohen was in Tehran during the 2009 rebellion and condemns the Obama administration’s do-nothing policy:

For a few days, the Islamic republic stood on a knife’s edge. I have often asked myself what would have happened if Mir Hussein Moussavi, the leader of the reformist Green Movement who was later placed under house arrest, had told that crowd to march on the seats of power in the name of the ballot box over theocratic whim.

Signs of disarray were palpable before the regime led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cracked down through the thugs of the Basij militia. As I wrote at the time, “There’s nothing more repugnant than seeing women being hit by big men armed with clubs and the license of the state.”

In Tehran, then, the silence of the Obama White House was deafening: too little, too late. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed regret over this in 2014. Excessive caution was the mother of the Obama administration’s worst failures, not least in Syria. The slippery slope school of foreign policy has its limitations. Inaction, in the name of the ninth unanswerable “And then what?” question from the president, is as emphatic a statement as action. President Vladimir Putin, among other American rivals, took note.

Commentators rarely factor Obama’s weakness, his failure to act, into their calculations about world politics. Cohen has done so, here and elsewhere, to his great credit.

What next? What does Cohen now recommend?

Trump’s White House should keep up the pressure. It should bring European allies in behind its condemnation and warnings. It should stop berating the nuclear deal, which gave Iranians hope and deprives the regime of a convenient scapegoat (it could always say times were hard because of Western sanctions).

It should not, whatever happens, impose new sanctions: They only benefit the Revolutionary Guards. And it should learn, finally, that Iran is not, as Steve Bannon told Joshua Green, “like the fifth century — completely primeval” — but rather a sophisticated society of deep culture full of unrealized promise better served by engagement than estrangement.

We respectfully disagree. If and when the Iranian regime crushes the rebellion, it should pay a severe price. We should scrap the nuclear deal once and for all. And we should impose new sanctions. One suspects that the administration is already readying such steps.

Other than those two points of disagreements, we are happy to see Cohen offer a thoughtful, well-informed view of the Trump administration policy in Iran. 


Ares Olympus said...

Other countries don't have the right to freedom of speech as we do in America, and so when citizens take action like public protest, they're putting their physical freedom and even their lives on the line.

I think Elizabeth Warren statement holds a good balance, without telling Iran what to do. I stand with the right of the Iranian people to peacefully protest. The people of Iran deserve a government that respects human rights and works to address their grievances.

I also saw this recent opinion piece suggests Trump be quiet least he distract the message of the people who are standing up.

trigger warning said...

I doubt Lieawatha's peace pipe will influence the Ayatollah Rockinrollah.

Sam L. said...

I wouldn't go past "semi-thoughtful". I am also not surprised by the NYT opinion piece. I would recommend Trump ignore it, but I'm pretty sure he will. He knows they don't have his best interests at heart.

Anonymous said...

"Commentators rarely factor Obama’s weakness, his failure to act, into their calculations about world politics."

Weakness? Is a deliberate course of non-action, now to be considered "weakness"?

Obama's actions, as directed by IRANIAN Muslim Brotherhood puppetmaster Valerie Jarret were
very much intentional and designed to strengthen the Mullahs' regime!!!