The Obvious Doesn't Occur to Roger Cohen:

Roger Cohen says that Israel is "crying wolf" about Iran's imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons. He notes that Israeli leaders previously predicted that Iran would acquire such weapons by 1999, and then by 2004. It doesn't seem to occur to Cohen that it's entirely possible that if Israel and its allies had not been engaging in overt and covert efforts to impede Iran, to a large extent at Israel's urging, those predictions may have come true. It's analogous to criticizing Paulsen for crying wolf for predicting the imminent collapse of credit markets last Fall; there's no way of knowing if his prediction would have come true but for the intervention that he urged. Of course, I have no idea as to whether Israel's current predictions are right or not, but neither does Cohen.

Cohen is right, though, that Israeli leaders have engaged in hyperbole about the threat from Iran's bomb. (Politicians engaging in hyperbole regarding national security issues? Imagine that!) The threat from Iran is not (primarily) that it will immolate Tel Aviv and thus gurantee Iran's own destruction, but that it will use its nuclear weapons as blackmail. Just for example, if Iran threatened to nuke a major European city, or allow an affiliated terrorist group to do so, if the Europeans failed to comply with some unreasonable demand or other (say, cutting off all ties with Israel), how confident do you think Mr. Cohen, or anybody else, is that the Europeans wouldn't simply fold? The reaction to the brouhaha over the Mohammed cartoons hardly gives me confidence in European, or even American (remember how newspapers refused to publish the cartoons in stories about the controversy?) fortitude.

UPDATE: James Taranto has some rather sharp words for Cohen. I, too, noticed that Cohen referenced "Israel's hegemony" creating a "kind of slavery," but I charitably attributed it to Cohen getting a bit too revved up on Pharoah/slavery analogies in preparation for his seder.

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UPDATE: BTW, I never commented on Roger Cohen's ridiculous column in February on Iran's Jews, the inevitable result of a naive (or tendentious) individual interviewing unfree people who are being watched by government agents. It reminded me very much of an incident from my college days. A "peacenik" classmate took a Soviet-sponsored tour of the USSR in the Spring of 1988. When he returned, he assured the school paper that the Jews in the USSR (some of whom he met personally) were very happy to be there, and don't want to leave. A year later, 400,000 of them fled the first chance they got.