In a series of incendiary columns about Israel and Iran, foreign policy columnist Roger Cohen has accused Israel's supporters of paranoia while arguing that Iran poses no existential threat to Israel, even though its leadership denies the Holocaust and has threatened to annihilate Israel. Last week he wrote of Israel's incursion into Gaza, "I have never previously felt so shamed by Israel's actions," and called for the recognition of the terrorist group Hamas.
In his Monday column, filed from Los Angeles after meeting with a rabbi and some Jews there who'd been pressured to leave Iran, Cohen again attacked the "misguided view of Iran as nothing but a society of mad mullah terrorists bent on nukes."
Even more controversially, Cohenhas defendedthe pro-Saudi Arabia, anti-Israel Chas Freeman and roared at "the Mideasttaboos that just causedthe scandalous disqualification" of Freeman for a senior intelligence post. Freeman, ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992, has made statements suggesting America was to blame for the 9-11 attacks and has even defended the Chinese regime's massacre of protestors in Tiananmen Square. Yet Cohen finds the rejection of such a man "scandalous."
Pragmatism is also one way of looking at Iran's nuclear program. A state facing a nuclear-armed Israel and Pakistan, American invasions in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and noting North Korea's immunity from assault, might reasonably conclude that preserving the revolution requires nuclear resolve.
What's required is American pragmatism in return, one that convinces the mullahs that their survival is served by stopping short of a bomb.
That, in turn, will require President Obama to jump over his own bonfire of indignation as the Mideast taboos that just caused the scandalous disqualification of Charles Freeman for a senior intelligence post are shed in the name of a new season of engagement and reason.
Cohen hasstrange priorities.