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Friday, November 15, 2013

Roger Cohen, "French Muscle, American Cheese": Schizophrenia

A few days ago, Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "A Doable Iran Deal", declared:

"President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president [sic], and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, . . . are prepared to . . . find a solution on the heavy-water plant it is building at Arak that could produce plutonium."

Well, if halting construction of Iran's Arak IR-40 Heavy Water Reactor, designed to produce sufficient plutonium for two atomic bombs each year, is such an insignificant problem, and Iran is prepared to find a solution, why hasn't it been solved? Is this really something whose resolution should await a second agreement with Iran, after sanctions have been eased? As I previously wrote (, if this issue is not resolved pursuant to the terms of an initial agreement with Tehran, it will never be resolved.

Well today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "French Muscle, American Cheese" (, Cohen now writes concerning French objections to an American-brokered agreement with Tehran, which John Kerry desperately wanted to sign in Geneva:

"Their concerns focused on three areas: The heavy-water plant at Arak that the Iranians are building, where the outline agreement seemed to allow continued construction; language that appeared to concede prematurely an Iranian 'right to enrich' or something close to it; and what measures exactly Iran would take to dispose of its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium. Much of the Geneva meeting focused on the French determination to close these loopholes — only for the changes to prove unacceptable to Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, and his team."

The French changes involving the Arak Reactor proved unacceptable to Mohammad Javad Zarif? In his prior op-ed, Cohen told us that Zarif was prepared to find a solution to this issue. Which is it?

Cohen concludes:

"The overall feeling in France observing U.S. actions in the Middle East is of a troubling uncertainty, a retreat that tends to leave a vacuum, a new American determination to work with a 'light footprint' that can give the impression of disinterest.

. . . .

The United States, of course, is not quitting the Middle East and isolationist tendencies are easily overstated — as Fabius later conceded.

But his warnings are worth heeding. Obama spoke to Hollande this week; he expressed how 'the United States deeply values its relationship with France.' The president could usefully borrow some French toughness to get a winning Iran deal.

When the cheese-eaters are in the White House it is time to worry."

The "cheese-eaters" in the White House"? Is that what the first invertebrate to occupy the Oval Office consumes for breakfast, lunch and dinner? And all this while, I thought he only ate lettuce.


  1. Cohen probably thought long and hard about the alternative tile for his op-ed,'Of Mice and Men', but he knows all too well that would have been hitting below the belt and broken NYT house rules.

  2. Jeff, I was thinking ..
    Briefly - I have to go.
    What if thinking that the NYT is serving ... Obama is wrong?
    Is it possible that both serve the same master(s)? It would mean that if we know who finances? blackmails (some?) the NYT, we would know more about Obama's masters.