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Contentions

Cohen vs. Cohen

Roger Cohen, on March 1, 2009:

The June presidential election pitting the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, against Mohammad Khatami (a former president who once spoke in a synagogue) will be a genuine contest as compared to the charades that pass for elections in many Arab states.

Roger Cohen, on June 24, 2009:

Numbers have ceased to mean anything here. All the evidence is that percentages were simply allotted to each candidate and the votes cast backward-engineered from there. The Interior Ministry took 10 days to divulge results for all provinces. Such engineering takes time.

Roger Cohen on March 1, 2009:

Iran is an un-free society with a keen, intermittently brutal apparatus of repression, but it’s far from meeting [the criteria of a totalitarian state]. Significant margins of liberty, even democracy, exist. Anything but mad, the mullahs have proved malleable.

Roger Cohen on June 24, 2009:

All the fudge that allowed a modern society to coexist with a theocracy inspired by an imam occulted in the 9th century has been swept away, leaving two Irans at war.

Roger Cohen on March 1, 2009:

For all the morality police inspecting whether women are wearing boots outside their pants (the latest no-no on the dress front) and the regime zealots of the Basiji militia, the air you breathe in Iran is not suffocating. Its streets at dusk hum with life – not a monochrome male-only form of it, or one inhabited by fear – but the vibrancy of a changing, highly-educated society.

Roger Cohen on June 24, 2009:

Iran’s international rhetoric, effective in Ahmadinejad’s first term, will be far less so now. Every time he talks of justice and ethics, his two favorite words, video will roll of Neda Agha Soltan’s murder and the regime’s truncheon-wielding goons at work.

Roger Cohen on March 1, 2009:

The compromises being painfully fought out between Islam and democracy in Tehran are of seminal importance. They belie the notion of a fanatical power; they explain Jewish life.

Roger Cohen, on June 24, 2009:

The hypocritical but effective contract that bound society has been broken. The regime never had active support from more than 20 percent of the population. But acquiescence was secured by using only highly targeted repression (leaving the majority free to go about its business), and by giving people a vote for the president every four years.

That’s over. Repression will be broad and ferocious in the coming months.

Roger Cohen, March 1, 2009:

The equating of Iran with terror today is simplistic. Hamas and Hezbollah have evolved into broad political movements widely seen as resisting an Israel over-ready to use crushing force. It is essential to think again about them, just as it is essential to toss out Iran caricatures.

I return to this subject because behind the Jewish issue in Iran lies a critical one – the U.S. propensity to fixate on and demonize a country through a one-dimensional lens, with a sometimes disastrous chain of results.

Roger Cohen, on June 24, 2009:

Over the past week, i[Iran] has looked more like a flag-bearing police state.

Fine writing, in Cohen’s latest column. Still, the switch was fast and seamless: from apologist to sworn enemy, in less than three months. How does one explain this? Instead of name-calling, let’s venture into the publishable:

A liberal mugged by reality?

Someone, whose “‘one-dimensional lenses” used to read Iran last spring have now been cracked by the “disastrous chain of results” his naivete could not foresee?

Someone whose equation of Iran with subtlety, sophistication, and malleability was “simplistic”?

Someone who tossed out Iran caricatures in his columns?

A caricature himself?

Or just Roger Cohen, of the New York Times?


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