By Barry Rubin

Roger Cohen, who recently visited Iran, was treated nicely, and concluded that it was a pretty good regime and Jews lived well there, now weighs in with his expert opinion in the New York Times on other regional issues:

“Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. The United States should follow the British example. It should initiate diplomatic contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah. The Obama administration should also look carefully at how to reach moderate Hamas elements and engineer a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.”

Has Mr. Cohen ever read a single Hamas document or listened to a single Hamas speech, translated from the Arabic? Does he have any idea of what Hizballah says or has done? Does he have any comprehension about what would happen in a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation (notice that he is so clueless that he puts Hamas first, as if it would be the dominant partner, which alone shows he has no comprehension of politics and international affairs).

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Can he explain how a “political wing” even exists in Hamas or Hizballah, because it is a complete fiction?

It is sort of amusing to hear that Hamas and Hizballah have been treated as terrorist groups as an error. They were so treated because they were and are terrorist groups, with deeply engrained anti-Americanism, and with genocidal intentions toward Israel and even Jews in general.

Of course, he is just a columnist, not a government official or even a reporter. Once upon a time, when there was some real “diversity” in Middle East studies and in the elite media outlets, he would be ridiculed for saying such silly things. Alas, immune from criticism from peers, reasoned responses are available only on the Internet and in the letters’ column.
But George W. Bush is no longer around to be kicked around. One can only hope that when the Obama administration’s State Department doesn’t do these things, it can explain why they are so foolish. Of course, if the new government falls for such foolishness than everyone in the Middle East will be in trouble. That doesn’t mean just Israel, it includes the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza who might become subjects of Hamas’s Islamic republic; the Lebanese who will have to live under Hizballah’s reign; and the region as a whole which could increasingly fall under the sway of Iran and Syria. Perhaps Egypt and Jordan will be ruled by the “moderate” elements in the “political wings” of their respective Muslim Brotherhood groups.

Then blowhards like Mr. Cohen may see the error of their ways. But then, of course, it would be too late.

One doesn’t have to make reference to past fascist and Communist movements. In 1979, lots of American pundits explained that there was nothing to fear from a revolution in Iran led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. They were merely the moderates in the political wing, no doubt.

And that’s why it’s so important to avoid Iran getting nuclear weapons in the first place.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to