Roger Cohen of the New York Times is rapidly becoming Iran’s foremost apologist in the United States — which is saying something considering how many others are all too willing to excuse and explain away the mullahs’ murderous misconduct. In his latest special pleading on behalf of the theocratic dictators in Tehran, Cohen trots out the Mother of All Dumb Analogies: “Imagine if Roosevelt in 1942 had said to Stalin, sorry, Joe, we don’t like your Communist ideology so we’re not going to accept your help in crushing the Nazis. I know you’re powerful, but we don’t deal with evil.”
If that’s supposed to show the error of our ways with Iran, it falls a little bit short. The reason that the U.S. allied with Russia in 1942 was that, notwithstanding the evils of its communist regime, the two countries faced a common existential threat in Nazi Germany. As soon as that threat disappeared, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. became mired in a decades-long Cold War. What common threat does Cohen imagine would bind the U.S. and Iran together? A Martian invasion?
Iran has been America’s enemy ever since 1979. Hatred of the “Great Satan” has been an essential element of the Iranian Revolution.
Numerous attempts by every American administration since Carter to engage with the Iranians have been rebuffed. Trying to engage with Iran might be likened to U.S. attempts to engage with the pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union — attempts which inevitably ended in broken promises and failed treaties because the Soviets were not yet genuinely dedicated to reform and cooperation with the West.
Cohen nevertheless spins out what he calls a “normalization scenario”:
Iran ceases military support for Hamas and Hezbollah; adopts a “Malaysian” approach to Israel (nonrecognition and noninterference); agrees to work for stability in Iraq and Afghanistan; accepts intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency verification of a limited nuclear program for peaceful ends only; promises to fight Qaeda terrorism; commits to improving its human rights record.
The only thing that’s missing is Ahmadinejad donning a yarmulke and singing “Hava Nagila.”
This fantasy veers from harmless wishful thinking into something more pernicious when Cohen writes:
Any such deal is a game changer, transformative as Nixon to China (another repressive state with a poor human rights record). It can be derailed any time by an attack from Israel, which has made clear it won’t accept virtual nuclear power status for Iran, despite its own nonvirtual nuclear warheads.
So you see the Iranians are ready to change their ways, to become a paragon of Western liberal virtue. The only thing standing in the way is mindless Israeli belligerence. If only the nasty Israelites would let the nice Iranians have a nuclear program, everyone could walk off into the sunset, arm in arm. It is rare to get such insights outside of official Iranian government organs.