March 26, 2009

The fierce irrelevance of roger cohen

Roger Cohen thinks that we can have peace in the Middle East, if the United States would just listen to a bunch of experts associated with the US Middle East Project. In the Fierce Urgency of Peace:

Pressure on President Obama to recast the failed American approach to Israel-Palestine is building from former senior officials whose counsel he respects.

Following up on a letter dated Nov. 6, 2008, that was handed to Obama late last year by Paul Volcker, now a senior economic adviser to the president, these foreign policy mandarins have concluded a "Bipartisan Statement on U.S. Middle East Peacemaking" that should become an essential template.

Deploring "seven years of absenteeism" under the Bush administration, they call for intense American mediation in pursuit of a two-state solution, "a more pragmatic approach toward Hamas," and eventual U.S. leadership of a multinational force to police transitional security between Israel and Palestine.

Exactly how different this engagement would be from President Clinton's is unclear. But despite focusing on Middle East peace, Clinton left office with Yasser Arafat leading a second "intifada" against Israel. In other words - even if one accepts the mistaken notion that the Bush administration was absent from the peace process - there's no evidence that American engagement will bring peace.

Cohen cites Henry Siegman. Siegman's an interesting choice of expert given that he once wrote an article claiming that Hafiz Assad wanted to make peace with Israel and that by using Hezbollah to attack Israel, Assad showed his commitment to peace.

Another of the experts that Cohen cites is James Wolfensohn. Again he's an interesting choice, as Barry Rubin writes:

Didn't James Wolfensohn learn from his dialogue with Hamas over those greenhouses he bought for them and they trashed to make into rockets?

Cohen can quote all the experts he likes and maybe President Obama will heed his advice. But experience shows that the approach Cohen advocates will not bring peace. Until Palestinian and Arab resistance to Israel changes, no amount of Israel concessions or American pressure will bring peace to the Middle East.

MJ Rosenberg demonstrates his discerning intellect (via memeorandum) by declaring Cohen his favorite NYT columnist:

I read today's column in Brussels and thought, for a moment, that I was reading The Independent or The Guardian. Or Ha'aretz.

I would agree, but no one except for an anti-Israel ideologue would consider that praise.

He also noted Cohen's brilliant analysis.

As Cohen puts it, it is time to "stop being hung up on prior Hamas recognition of Israel and watch what it does rather than what it says. If Hamas is part of, and remains part of, a Palestinian unity government that makes a peace deal with Israel, that's workable.

What Hamas does is launch rockets against civilians. Apparently to Cohen and Rosenberg that's a sign of their commitment to peace. If you want a proof of their intellectual irrelevance, you really don't need to know anything else. (Unfortunately, their views may not be irrelevant politically.)

UPDATE: Israel Matzav deftly dismantles Cohen's four point plan for Middle East peace. Daled Amos questions the assumptions and the expertise of the experts Cohen subscribes to.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at March 26, 2009 6:16 AM
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"What Hamas does is launch rockets against civilians. Apparently to Cohen and Rosenberg that's a sign of their commitment to peace".
These guys are mentally ill.

Posted by: Laura at March 26, 2009 12:39 PM
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