19 thoughts on “Roger Cohen: Obama’s Iran Address Will Bring ‘Painful But Necessary Redefinition of Relations with Israel’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Roger Cohen’s recent pieces regarding Israel in the NY Times have shown a refreshing turnaround. But I think he misses the boat on Obama’s speech to Iran. This wasn’t a reaching out, except with a hand clothed in armor. What chutzpah to tell Iran that if they do as we want them to do, we might be nice to them.

    Another view of Obama’s speech which is more to the point can be found at http://www.counterpunch.org (weekend edition, 20-22 March, 2009): “Happy New Year, Iran!”, by John V. Whitbeck.

    Obama’s position is no different than G.W. Bush’s. He merely presents it with a nice smile rather than a sneer. He’s working for the same people Bush worked for. Why should we expect change in policy.

  2. Well it’s over to Iran now. What’s interesting is this issue is being covered (generally, I mean, not specifically here) as if there’s only one player – the States. We can encourage Obama’s approach as long as we want, but the crucial thing is whether or not Iran responds positively, and the signs regarding that are inconclusive to say the least. Speeches are all very nice, but we need to see what the policies are, and I’m not as convinced as you are that Obama’s going to be all that friendly to the Iranians, although naturally he (like most sensible people) will do all he can to avoid the military option.

  3. One thing behind the possible rethinking of US policy in Middle East are the clear attempts by biggest regional powers Turkey and Iran to begin to use local currencies in the bilateral trade and the increasing co-operation.

    Turkey and Russia also are also planing to domestic currencies in their trade. If these “examples” are put in reality the example will spread and USD’s dominant position as the world currency is in real danger.

    This development could change dramatically the geopolitical landscape of central Eurasia.

    Seems that USA is finally realizing that Middle East is not only Israel.

  4. Excellent post Richard.
    Maybe Olmert should have postponed the election a few month for the paradigm-shift to sink in ? With the Scare/ Warmongers marginalized in Washington it might have a spill over effect on the Israeli population.

  5. I wonder what the reaction of the US military would be if Israel attacks Iran on its own and the Iranian response results in the death of US soldiers in the region?

    Will they attack Iran or Israel?

    I don’t think the US military will ever again allow israel to kill US servicemen as it did in 1967 –either directly or indirectly.

  6. At last an American journalist has mustered the courage to talk about the Middle East as an entire region, rather than just pushing the views of right-wing Israeli parties.

    Cohen’s last sentence is absolutely correct: the myopia of the Israeli war parties (and the US government’s mindless endorsement of their views) endangers Israel’s long-term security. Finally, some pragmatism and long-range thinking. Thank you, Mr. Cohen!

  7. I agree with the attractiveness and sobriety of Obama’s speech, and I agree that Peres’ speech was trivial and certainly intended as some contrast to Obama’s.

    I wish that Richard had commented on Khatami’s response, which is equally, or even more important, a comment.

    Some have cited the Khatami response as nuanced, containing “take the next step” comments.

    I didn’t find Khatami’s response to be hopeful for one reason that creates an ultimate divide. That is as evidence of US’s change in attitude, Khatami seemed to condition any non-belligerant relationship on the US severing ties with Israel.

    It was not stated as “you have your friends, we’ll have ours”, but “give up your friends or don’t expect any thaw”.

    While I agree that the US relationship with Israel should change, I do NOT agree that it should sever, nor even relax its common aversion to terror.

    The same statement of “we’ll judge you by your actions” equally applies to Iran. IF Iran continues to encourage, fund and arm extra-legal militias on Israel’s border, then it will remain an aggressor in the world.

    And, if it presses the question to do you side with us OR do you side with Israel, my expectation is that the US will on merit side with Israel (though if the US continues its horrendously wasteful ways re: oil, the oil addiction may supercede what is right, and in the US commercial and social interests).

    1. “Khatami seemed to condition any non-belligerent relationship on the US severing ties with Israel.”

      Rather, ending our unconditional support for Israel. Not that I expect you to comprehend the difference, I just wanted to mention it for for those who might.

      here is the full text as well:


      Shame our media is too corrupt to report it in full rather than selective quoting it to misrepresent it.

        1. Anything short of letting Israel transfer all the Palestinians to Iran and Iran opening up to US corporations exploiting their resources however they please won’t be enough for the powers that be, and Iran has no intent of doing anything of the sort.

    2. Richard W., that’s (Supreme Leader Ali) KHAMENEI, not (former President Mohammad) KHATAMI. Different names, different dudes.

  8. Crimson Ghost, did you support or oppose Israel bombing Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981?
    It sounds to me like you would have opposed it.

    1. 10 comments in your first day ever commenting here is ultimate chutzpah. Take a look at the comment rules before you comment again. I will approve the first two of your 10 comments today. If you want to comment again in future, don’t abuse the privilege. Not everyone here wants to read your scholarship as much as you need to spout it.

      I have no interest in making my comment threads a repository for Islamophobic maundering. So if your goal is to prove to us that Islam is a perfidious religion give it a break. There are hundreds of other website where this sort of rubbish would be welcomed. DOn’t waste our time or yours.

      1. If you applied that policy consistently (free from consideration of perspective), then there are others you’d have to limit as well.

        I personally think that allowing individuals to respond to questions or assertions posed to them adds to the vitality of the place.

        I don’t know the specific posts that you are referring to, maybe they were offensive.

        Others can never know.

        1. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This guy tried to publish 10 comments in a single day. I’d limit anyone who did that. He’d never published a comment here before. He wasn’t responding to anyone’s comments posed to him. He was just a right wing troll fueling the hasbara machine.

          1. So leave him three.

            Otherwise you’re just censoring.

            Excepting paid agents, what does “hasbara troll” mean anyway?

          2. you’re just censoring.

            You betray a fundamental misunderstanding of what a blog is. A blog is not a public soap box. It is not the public airwaves (controlled by the FCC). It is not a political candidate’s forum. A blog is a public forum that is owned by an individual. That individual sets the tone, rules, whatever for the site. The site is a reflection of that person & his or her values. So the idea of free speech or censorship is entirely beside the point.

            While there is certainly debate and disagreement with my ideas here, that does not mean I have to give voice to every nut, crackpot or wingnut troll for the sake of “free speech.” I’m attempting to maintain a relatively civilized forum in which ideas are discussed with a certain level of intelligence & analysis. That doesn’t mean that I’m running an afternoon tea, as there is strong language and antagonism here at times. But I have no obligation to publish everything that everyone attempts to post here in my comment thread.

            A hasbara troll is someone who sees their role in life to write long-winded comments at multiple sites which they believe will show the flag of Israel among the heathens, Israel-haters, self-hating Jews, etc. These are people who have too much time on their hands and a very limited supply of media resources fr. which to draw the bile they spew. They have NO INTEREST in engaging in debate or dialogue. They only want to ARGUE. They are propagandists.

            I’ve said all I want to say about this so move on please.

  9. I think Richard Witty meant Khamanei, not Khatami. There is a big difference. Khamanei is the head Mullah and calls the shots in Iran. He is the religious leader and has all the actual power.

    Khatami, a former president, just withdrew his name as a candidate in the upcoming election — in order to avoid splitting the liberal vote.

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