Roger Cohen says our foreign policy has been ‘Likudized’

Middle East
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Smart Gary Sick has picked up Roger Cohen’s important column of last Sunday on the “doctrine of silence,” a shift in our foreign policy toward an unarticulated policy of stealth interventions in foreign countries, drones and groans. Cohen approves the shift seemingly because we have to have some policy and this is better than its predecessor, invasion. But he’s pointed on the degree to which Israel has influenced our approach:

There has seldom been so big a change in approach to U.S. strategic policy with so little explanation..

In Iran, a big explosion at a military base near Tehran recently killed Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, a central figure in the country’s long-range missile program. Nuclear scientists have perished in the streets of Tehran. The Stuxnet computer worm has wreaked havoc with the Iranian nuclear facilities.

It would take tremendous naïveté to believe these events are not the result of a covert American-Israeli drive to sabotage Iran’s efforts to develop a military nuclear capacity. An intense, well-funded cyberwar against Tehran is ongoing..

But killing an American citizen [drone attack on Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen] raises particular constitutional concerns; just how legal the drone attacks are remains a vexed question. And Iran had no part in 9/11.

In general, it’s hard to resist the impression of a tilt toward the extrajudicial in U.S. foreign policy — a kind of “Likudization” of the approach to dealing with enemies. Israel has never hesitated to kill foes with blood on their hands wherever they are.

This is a development about which no American can feel entirely comfortable.

Scott McConnell described the Likudization a year back in a landmark piece that said that Israel had become the transmission belt of bad ideas for American policy: the tail was the brains of the dog. And on the left Michael Ratner has offered a powerful rights-based critique of interventionism that Cohen ignores, presumably because he doesn’t think it’s realistic (Cohen who supported the disastrous Iraq war, though he donned sackcloth). So, both these analyses are marginalized. And libertarian Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who has dared question Israel supplying us with a militant Iran policy. And he is being ignored by the media, and I guess by the left too. How long can this conversation be suppressed? (As it was during the 2008 presidential campaign, which we learned later on was about neoconservatism, even if the voters were not clued in.)

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