The Contradictions of Roger Cohen

Two important pieces track the incredible tergiversations of Roger Cohen. Jordan Hirsch points to the contradictions implicit in the New York Times columnist’s heartfelt expressions of support for Iran’s democratic dissidents and his ever shifting calls for “engagement” with the regime that is murdering them.

Is diplomacy with the Ayatollah only ethically repugnant for, say, the next six months? Will we, by then, have conveniently forgotten about the Green Wave? Will it no longer be too distasteful to resume “business as usual”?

There are further discrepancies. Cohen derides George W. Bush’s “radical White House” and praises Barack Obama for “plac[ing] the Iranian regime on the defensive.” Yet it is Obama—and not Bush—who was so slow to issue any positive expression of support for the people on the streets of Tehran and who nonetheless held out the olive branch of “engagement” irrespective of how many dissidents the Iranian regime imprisons, tortures, or kills (entreaties, by the way, that have been abjectly dismissed by Iran’s leaders). Meanwhile, two days after the election devolved into mass protests and violent repression, Cohen said that outreach should “await a decent interval.” Two weeks later he declared, “Meddling be damned.”

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The Contradictions of Roger Cohen

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