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Quarta-feira, 7 de Março de 2007
Eliot A Cohen - Novo Assessor de Condoleezza Rice

Rice Picks Neo-con Champion on Iraq
Asia Times, Jim Lobe


WASHINGTON - In a move that has surprised many foreign-policy analysts, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appointed a prominent neo-conservative hawk and leading champion of the Iraq war to the post of State Department counselor.

Eliot A Cohen, who teaches military history at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and has also served on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board (DPB) since 2001, will take up the position next month that was left vacant late last year by Rice's longtime confidant, "realist" thinker Philip Zelikow.

A close friend and protege of former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz and advisory board member of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Cohen most recently led the harsh neo-conservative attack on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG), co-chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton.
Like his fellow neo-cons, Cohen was particularly scathing about the ISG's recommendations for Washington to engage Syria and Iran directly and revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - recommendations Rice herself has explicitly endorsed in the past few weeks.

"This is a group composed, for the most part, of retired eminent public officials, most with limited or no expertise in the waging or study of war," Cohen wrote in column titled "No way to win a war" published by the Wall Street Journal the day after the ISG released its report in early December.

"A fatuous process yields, necessarily, fatuous results," he went on in a wholesale dismissal of the relevance of what he called the "Washington establishment whose wisdom was exaggerated in its heyday, and which has in any event succumbed to a kind of political-intellectual entropy since the 1960s".

Confirming Cohen's appointment on Friday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "Eliot brings a lot to the table in terms of being a counselor, being somebody who can be an intellectual sounding board" for Rice.

Some analysts here, however, said they thought the appointment was designed instead to reduce or preempt criticism from neo-conservatives and other hawks in and outside the administration of US President George W Bush for the direction in which Rice hopes to take US policy, particularly in the Middle East. With no operational responsibilities, the State Department counselor can be used - or ignored - at the secretary's discretion.

"Condi may feel she needs to have a neo-con right next to her to protect her flanks," said Chris Nelson, editor of the widely read Washington insider newsletter The Nelson Report. "And if she's really planning to put her foot down on the Israelis, which [Washington] will have to do if it wants to get a real process with the Palestinians under way as part of a bigger regional deal with the Saudis and Iranians, then a guy like Cohen up there on the [State Department's] seventh floor who is in on it and can claim influence on the outcome can help."

Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, agreed: "Bringing on Cohen could help inoculate her from criticism by the Cheney camp," Clemons said in a reference to Vice President Richard Cheney and the neo-conservatives and other hawks who surround him. "One of the things that's been consistent is that Rice never takes Cheney head-on and is very careful not to take on people who might antagonize him."

In that respect, Cohen is a nearly ideal choice. Like Cheney, Cohen was a founding member in 1997 of the Project for the New American Century, whose positions on how to prosecute the "war on terror" - including the invasion of Iraq and cutting ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Yasser Arafat - he has consistently endorsed.

Although lacking regional expertise or policymaking experience, Cohen has written prolifically in recent years on US policy in the Middle East.

Cohen first gained national prominence shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when he published a Wall Street Journal column titled "World War IV" - a moniker quickly adopted by hardline neo-cons such as former director of central intelligence and fellow DPB member James Woolsey, former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, and Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney (on whose board Cohen also sits) - to put Bush's "war on terror" in what he considered to be the appropriate historical context and to define its enemy as "militant Islam".

After defeating the Taliban, Cohen argued, Washington should not only "finish off" Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, whom he accused of having "helped al-Qaeda", but also seek to overthrow "the mullahs" in Iran whose replacement by a "moderate or secular government would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of [Osama] bin Laden".

In another Journal article in April 2002 when the second Palestinian intifada was at its height, Cohen, who had just signed a PNAC letter that called for severing ties to the PA and asserted that "Israel's fight against terrorism is our fight", argued that proposals to send an international force that would separate Israeli forces from the Palestinians were "not serious ... there are times when well-intentioned measures can only make matters worse", he warned.

Cohen has also been quick to label critics of Israel and the so-called "Israel lobby" in the US as anti-Semites. "Sometimes the word 'neo-conservative' is used when what they really would like to say is 'Jew'," he told a British Broadcasting Corp interviewer in 2003 about critics of neo-cons such as himself.

"Only a reshuffling of the deck - through the disappearance of Arafat, or an event, such as the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, that profoundly changes the mood in the Arab world - will make something approaching truce, let alone peace, possible," he argued in a favorite pre-Iraq-war neo-conservative theme.

The following summer, he achieved new fame when Bush was photographed carrying Cohen's just-published book, Supreme Command, which argued that the greatest civilian wartime leaders, such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, had a far better strategic sense than their generals. It was a particularly timely message in the months that preceded the Iraq war when a surprising number of recently retired military brass here were voicing strong reservations about the impending invasion.

Cohen also became a charter member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), an administration-supported group that lobbied for war in Iraq, largely on behalf of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC). Indeed, Cohen, like his friend Wolfowitz, was in December 2001 already arguing publicly for Washington to rely heavily on the INC in any effort to overthrow Saddam.

After the invasion of Iraq, however, Cohen became progressively more critical of the way in which the subsequent occupation and counterinsurgency were being carried out, although, after a Pentagon-sponsored tour of Iraq that featured interviews with top military commanders there, including General George Casey, in February 2006, he became briefly more optimistic.

"After a wretched start, we have the right people at the top and the right policies in effect - and even more importantly, the right philosophy behind it all," he wrote in yet another Journal article titled "Will we persevere?"

Just nine months later, however, he had changed his mind. In the same article in which he attacked the ISG, he described US difficulties as stemming "not so much from failures to find the right strategy as from an astounding and depressing inability to implement the strategic and operational choices we have nominally made", an inability, for example, "as personal as picking the wrong people for key positions".

Still, while admitting in a Vanity Fair interview late last year that US choices in Iraq range between "bad and awful", Cohen has called for perseverance and played a key role in selling to Bush an AEI-hatched plan to add some 30,000 troops to the 140,000 soldiers in Iraq when he met with the president as part of a small group of "surge"-boosters at the White House in mid-December.

If the surge should fail, however, Cohen's preferred and "most plausible" option, which he laid out in an October Journal column titled "Plan B", would be a coup d'etat ("which we quietly endorse") in Iraq that would bring to power a "junta of military modernizers", a development that, as he noted himself, would call into question the Bush administration's and Rice's avowed goal of democratization.

In any event, he argued in the same column, "American prestige has taken a hard knock [in Iraq]; it will probably take a harder knock, and in ways that will not be restored without a considerable and successful use of American military power down the road.

"The tides of Sunni Salafism and Iran's distinct combination of messianism and power politics have not crested, and will not crest without much greater violence in which we too will be engaged," he asserted.

In a Vanity Fair interview last autumn, Cohen said, "I'm pretty grim. I think we're heading for a very dark world, because the long-term consequences of this are very large, not just for Iraq, not just for the region, but globally - for our reputation, for what the Iranians do, all kinds of stuff."

If Rice's intent was to reassure Cheney and the neo-conservatives that she is not a captive of the ISG and the "Washington establishment", that passage alone should do the trick.

publicado por Mafalda Avelar às 06:00
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2 comentários:
De Rui Silva a 7 de Março de 2007 às 12:01
Até que enfim que o Governo norte- americano começa a tomar uma atitude em relação à guerra do Iraque.
Este novo assessor promete ser mais coerente com a Paz e com a estabilidade mundial.
Não sabia desta nomeação. Este Prof. escreveu algum livro recomendável?
De GZXdyiNnKbiMLOlRFan a 18 de Julho de 2007 às 12:36
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