Roger Cohen, one of the op-ed columnists for the New York Times, has, as of late, made it his personal pastime to defend the theocratic killers ruling Iran. One of his recent columns, entitled “Israel Cries Wolf,” mocks and belittles Israeli concerns regarding Tehran’s nuclear program, citing warning statements made by Israeli leaders over the years, most of which have (yet) to come to full fruition. Today, his chief target is the newly sworn-in premier, Benjamin Netanyahu. The following excerpt captures Cohen’s inane argument ad captandum:
I don’t buy the view that, as Netanyahu [said], Iran is “a fanatic regime that might put its zealotry above its self-interest.” Every scrap of evidence suggests that, on the contrary, self-interest and survival drive the mullahs.
Yet Netanyahu insists … that Iran is “a country that glorifies blood and death, including its own self-immolation.” Huh?
On that ocular theme again, Netanyahu says Iran’s “composite leadership” has “elements of wide-eyed fanaticism that do not exist in any other would-be nuclear power in the world.” No, they exist in an actual nuclear power, Pakistan.
Israel’s nuclear warheads, whose function is presumably deterrence of precisely powers like Iran, go unmentioned, of course.
This is an important passage, because it underscores the logical fallacies employed by proponents of appeasement with Iran. By utilizing three commonly used tricks, Cohen throws everything he has at the wall in just a few short sentences — hoping something sticks.
Cohen’s first error: equating Western-centric models of rationality to those of our theocratic enemies. “Self-interest and survival drive the mullahs,” he swears — and not “self-immolation” as he claims Netanyahu believes. This is false. While it is true that the Iranians might have a Persian “superiority complex” and would rather hire Arab terrorists to blow themselves up — Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis, etc. — whom they ethnically look down upon, it is a mistake to believe Iranian “self-interest” coincides with Israeli or American self-interest.
Think of it this way: Why do would-be suicide bombers run away from U.S. military units while engaging them on the battlefield? Why did the operational planners of 9/11 flee Tora Bora into Pakistan? Why do al-Qaedists and Taliban militiamen seek refuge from air strikes overhead? According to Cohen’s universe of zero-sum logic, these suicidal extremists should welcome their own demise, should they not? One is either a self-immolating fanatic or pursuing coherent self-interest, as personally defined by Cohen himself — right?
The truth is a little bit more complicated. The sincerest jihadist prides himself on a fanaticism that is as tactical and patient as it is theological. Just as Mohamed Atta’s crew donned cell phones and hobnobbed casinos and strip malls — growing parasitic on the society they vowed to destroy, coming to lust what they claimed to loathe — so too it is common, in fact widespread, for a Khomeinist mullah from Iran (or a Wahhabi prince from Saudi Arabia) to indulge in the financial niceties, personal pleasures, and opportunities offered by civilized normalcy. But, as with Atta and his eighteen cohorts, the transition from such immediate real-world self-interest to fantastically dogmatic supernaturalism and brutally self-and-mass-inflicting violence is an easy process, indeed.
Iran’s current president talks into water wells, hears voices, and anxiously awaits the return of the “hidden imam” — and with it, the end of the world. Iran’s former president, and perhaps future supreme leader, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is wanted in Argentina for knocking down a large office building. And he’s supposedly the “moderate” in Iran’s leadership.
The rest of the clerical regime, from the Orwellian-sounding Assembly of Experts to the Council of Guardians, is as ideologically unhinged as any governing body in the world. Cohen scoffs at this fact at our own peril.