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‘Economist’ says lobby is trying to kill Iran talks, Roger Cohen says it’s France

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Economist imageEconomist’s cartoon. Laura Rozen at Al Monitor says it’s spot-on.

BN, with megaphone, banging on drums ‘stop, no’, as Obama-Rouhani play poker- says it all @MehrzadBBC: @ChemiShalev

— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) November 16, 2013

The accompanying article in the Economist, by Lexington, is plain about Netanyahu playing the Israel lobby against the Obama administration:

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has not held back. In a speech to thousands of Jewish-Americans in Jerusalem on November 10th he more or less called the American president and his envoys naive to the point of imperilling Israel’s survival..

And it warns that the lobby can’t overplay its hand because of war-weariness in the American public:

The Israeli lobby loses leverage

To those who brood, darkly, about Israel’s influence in American politics, the bogeyman of choice has long been the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a hawkish lobby group. AIPAC’s friends in Congress, notably Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have suggested that new sanctions would strengthen America’s hand with Iran….

[Democrats] do not wish to embarrass their president. But senators distrust Iran intensely, and are not convinced that Mr Obama will insist on a robust deal, either. AIPAC will need to tread carefully—a core tenet of Israeli diplomacy is maintaining bipartisan support in America.

Roger Cohen at the Times has nothing to say about Israel. It’s the French banging the drum, he says, and that’s not bad. We should be worried about the cheese-eating surrender monkeys in the White House.

The cheese-eating surrender monkeys of France, in the phrase from “The Simpsons,” have become the world’s meat-chomping enforcement tigers. As for the United States, it has, in the French view, gone a touch camembert-soft…

The United States, of course, is not quitting the Middle East and isolationist tendencies are easily overstated — as [French Foreign Minister Laurent] 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.

Cohen’s position puts him in the same camp as David Brooks, the conservative NYT columnist. Though Brooks (who is “gooey-eyed” about Israel, stronger stuff than Cohen’s “liberal Zionist–and I am one”) cites Israel’s concerns. From NPR last night:

Host Audie Cornish: How do the congressional politics here help or hurt the negotiating position of the U.S. going forward?

BROOKS: Well, it makes it much tougher. And they sort of back up what’s become the French position which is to be more skeptical of the talks. And there are two good reasons for that. The first is that if we – the administration sometimes seems so eager to put a nonproliferation deal, we end up winking at some of the human rights abuses of the regime.

The second, and this is the worry of Israelis and others, which is that once you start weakening the sanctions and there’s Katie bar the door, it’s hard to keep any sanction regimes in place and the pressure on Iran just diminishes and diminishes.

Now notice when the liberal commentator EJ Dionne steps in on NPR, there’s a hint about Israel’s role in our politics but no edification. Dionne demystifies nothing:

DIONNE: First of all, in American politics, you don’t lose much by being anti-Iran and so I think there’s going to be some pressure from Congress. But this also – and I’ve talked to administration officials about this. This strengthens them vis-a-vis the Iranians because the administration, while it’s saying to Congress please don’t strengthen these sanctions now, let’s see if we can make these talks work, the administration can always hold the threat that sanctions could get worse as it’s trying to get Iran to make concessions.

The administration seems to have some confidence that they can get a pretty good deal out of Iran, but of course that’ll also depend on how outsiders judge whether it is a pretty good deal.

Outsiders? Do outsiders judge the Affordable Care Act? Who are these foreign-policy judges? And when is the mainstream media going to talk about the Israel lobby?

P.S. As Alex noted yesterday, Foreign Policy is being more forthright: Foreign Policy magazine’s John Hudson reports that Israel and the Obama administration are locked in an “information war” over a deal with Iran. Hudson reports that “Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are storming Capitol Hill

H/t Scott Roth.

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44 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    November 16, 2013, 11:21 am

    “BROOKS: Well, it makes it much tougher. And they sort of back up what’s become the French position which is to be more skeptical of the talks. And there are two good reasons for that. The first is that if we – the administration sometimes seems so eager to put a nonproliferation deal, we end up winking at some of the human rights abuses of the regime.”

    And of course NPR Audi Cornish does not even walk through this very large door opening by Brooks to bring up Israel’s decades long human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Even when the perfect opportunity to address this obvious contradiction Audi cannot stir up the muster to walk through that door. Absolutely pathetic. NPR fails over and over again to simply walk through these openings.

    EJ Dione “outsiders” Wow E.J. don’t push the envelope too far. Sad. When will Audi, E.J etc grow some? Thank goodness for Mondoweiss, Going to Tehran, Informed Comment, Walt’s Foreign policy blog, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now…NPR and other MSM outlets croak on these critical issues.

    Although here we have the Economist stepping out of the box

    • seafoid
      November 16, 2013, 4:41 pm

      UK media put US msm to shame. The guardian, FT and Economist aren’t afraid to.publicise Israel’s warts.b

  2. Krauss
    November 16, 2013, 11:23 am

    The column by Roger Cohen was one of the most idiotic I’ve read in a long, long time, and I don’t usually read Cohen’s columns(I was directed to his column by people I follow on Twitter who were laughing hard about it).

    He wrote a pretty racist column stereotyping the entire Italian people just a few weeks ago in a way you could never get away, say, stereotyping Jews or blacks.
    We now have two Cohens. Big idiot(Richard Cohen) and little idiot(Roger Cohen).

    But apparently writing really racist stuff is not an issue if you’re an aging Jewish man in the media. Remember David Brooks’ column a few months back about typecasting the entire Egyptian people as racially inferior? Seriously, I am amazed how much you can get away with if you have the right age, gender and ethnicity.

    As for his argument, who is going to pay with their blood? Little idiot Cohen has 4 kids. I doubt any of his privileged kids are going to fight any wars.
    And his insistance about Syria’s “nonradical opposition” is just more fantasy. The radicals have been eating the “moderates” for breakfast for months, even years now.

    In the latest meeting in Moscow, AP and Reuters all but conceded that the Western obsession with the ‘moderates’ was a fantasy and a castle made out of thin air. The “moderates” can’t even get along with each other and most of them are not even in the country. It reminds you of the Bush administration’s Chalabi fix, who turned out to be a master at smelling a desperate Western country wanting to fantasize about a political situation that didn’t exist in order to justify their invasion. I don’t fault Chalabi for scamming the Bush administration, I fault the Bush administration for being so desperate and, frankly, stupid, by falling for it. It’s the same thing with the so-called “moderate opposition”. Most of these leaders don’t even live in Syria but live comfortable lives in Western capitals, mooching off the status of the “moderate opposition” as Syria’s Islamists get more and more radical by the day.

    I know this is terribly naive, but I would want people who write about bombing countries, and especially going to war, to have served in the army first and preferably have gone to war themselves. It’s never going to happen, but we could at least get rid of the Big and Little idiots as well as hangers-ons like Brooks or Goldberg. Oh, sorry, Corporal Goldberg has served in the army. Only the Apartheid army. Maybe he gets to qualify, after all.
    For Arutz Sheva.

  3. just
    November 16, 2013, 11:28 am

    “Hollande prepares to visit Israel, reap reward for stance on Iran
    The French president will travels to Israel Tuesday for the first time since his election 18 months ago, a visit aides say will focus on the next round of talks in Geneva.

    As French President Francois Hollande prepares for his first official visit as head of state to Israel and the Palestinian territories, beginning on Sunday, he is enjoying rare plaudits from unusual quarters.

    France’s tough stance in talks last week between Western powers and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program, may not have been to the liking of Tehran, where the “gun-slinging” French were blamed by Fars news agency for thwarting a deal.

    Western diplomats also privately expressed frustration at Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’s refusal to endorse a deal that did not contain iron-clad guarantees on the risk of Iran developing a nuclear bomb.

    But France’s uncompromising approach has also won it new friends.

    “Vive la France!” U.S. Republican Senator John McCain tweeted, as the talks in Geneva ended without the interim accord that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. conservatives had preemptively labelled a “bad” deal. ”

    I guess the wine is flowing and french fries are just pommes frites again.

  4. HarryLaw
    November 16, 2013, 11:55 am

    It would appear that the Russian delegation to the failed Geneva talks were only informed of a change in the agreed draft [between P5+1 and Iran] at the last minute, just as the Russian delegation was about to leave. Lavrov implies that they were forced to make a quick up or down decision on the amended draft, and did not realize the degree to which it was likely to cause the talks to fail, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javed Zarif over half the original US draft was gutted and had nullified the previous understanding. US duplicity and Russian naivete, a toxic brew, and after Lavrov has complained repeatedly about Kerry talking from both sides of his mouth to different constituencies, and then there was the Libya resolution debacle.

  5. Sumud
    November 16, 2013, 12:17 pm

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

    Roger Cohen shouldn’t that be:

    When the surrender monkeys are in the White House it is time to worry.

    You know, since the cheese-eaters are now, in your words, “the world’s meat chomping enforcement tigers”.

    FYI I’m not confident you can appeal to a young audience simply by referring to The Simpsons and talking about tigers and monkeys and brie. Dress it up how you like, hasbara is easily recognised.

  6. Mike_Konrad
    November 16, 2013, 12:30 pm

    When I heard France scotched the deal, this went through my head

    BTW: How come my posts are not archived like everyone else?

    • annie
      November 16, 2013, 12:39 pm

      i have no idea why your comments are not archived mike, they should be. i will email phil and adam and ask.

    • libra
      November 16, 2013, 12:52 pm

      Mike_Konrad: BTW: How come my posts are not archived like everyone else?

      Mike, were you thinking of publishing them as Confessions of a Useful Idiot?

      • Cliff
        November 16, 2013, 2:33 pm


    • tree
      November 16, 2013, 8:51 pm

      I suspect that it has to do with the underscore between your first and last name. Underscores seem to confuse the archiving system here. I noticed a similar lack of archives from another unrelated commenter who used an underscore in their name.

  7. Justpassingby
    November 16, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Israel really hate America, they want war compared to America that want peace.

  8. traintosiberia
    November 16, 2013, 2:19 pm

    The lowest common denominator is the Israeli position – the Lobby’s interests.
    French Fry or cheese eating surrendering monkey or ” we saved their life from Hitler” or the putrid hatred expressed by Lantos against Chirac back in 2003 and the reversal of that attitude from Cohen and from McCain’s tweet only confirm that American interests are of the secondary importance to the Israeli supporters .
    They wanted to go to Syria to weaken Iran. They supported ( Israel ,McCain ) Alquida to weaken and remove Syria. Their full throated embrace of Iraq war was to prepare the next phase that was to weaken the resistance to assaulting other ME eastern countries ( Wesley Clark in 1991 and again in 2007) that would question Israeli behaviors. Supporting the existing muredrous sanctions by silencing any effort to remove the sanctions by peace groups,business group,church groups,and by the rest of the world ( re – Iraq ) and by focussing on Saddam ‘s old behavior , by constantl portraying him as suicidal,terrorist,murderers,and anti American , Israeli placeholders ( now occupied by Cohen and Graham, Schumer, Mendez, McCain ) managed to weaken Saddam to dust so that land invasion could take place on the same old lies plus the, new one supplied by 911.
    Today Iran is in the same situation.
    But the silver linings are plenty, – American have started paying attention, media is more discerning,Russia eager in the past to join US is reluctant,BRICS could see the danger,and above all despite the upheaval and anarchy in ME, Israel is in no better position than it was in 1990. It is not welcomed in Libya or Algeria or Tunisia or Lebanon. Only the corrupts despot ( S Arab and gulfs) want to suck up to them ,the way corrupt despot of Latin America did.

  9. doug
    November 16, 2013, 2:20 pm

    I really miss Rozen’s warandpiece site but her work at Al Monitor is quite good. Sometimes. She really beat the drums for attacking Syria before the Russians stepped in, fortunately for us.

    I look at Laura as extremely plugged in and usually echoing the current thinking at State but with a bit of independence.

  10. Blownaway
    November 16, 2013, 2:21 pm

    James Traub at Foreign policy writes about how both Republicans and Democrats are carrying Israel’s water in Congress. Calls out Menendez as a tool of AIPAC…finally sunshine on the lobby is starting to wilt it

  11. DICKERSON3870
    November 16, 2013, 2:49 pm

    RE: “AIPAC’s friends in Congress, notably Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have suggested that new sanctions would strengthen America’s hand with Iran….” ~ Lexington in the Economist


    Pro-Israel: Money to Congress

    • Senators (top 25)
    • All cycles
    Candidate ////// Amount
    Lieberman, Joe (I-CT) $2,281,424
    Kirk, Mark (R-IL) $1,706,933
    Levin, Carl (D-MI) $1,661,835
    Specter, Arlen (D-PA) $1,376,605
    Obama, Barack (D) $1,371,325
    McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $1,339,348
    McCain, John (R-AZ) $1,303,682
    Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) $1,234,741
    Wyden, Ron (D-OR) $1,058,857
    Durbin, Dick (D-IL) $954,203
    Schumer, Charles E (D-NY) $866,149
    Boxer, Barbara (D-CA) $861,013
    Cardin, Ben (D-MD) $824,865
    Harkin, Tom (D-IA) $822,685
    Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA) $807,666
    Daschle, Tom (D-SD) $797,141
    Kerry, John (D-MA) $718,535
    Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) $717,621
    Nelson, Bill (D-FL) $707,461
    Reid, Harry (D-NV) $699,784
    Lautenberg, Frank (D-NJ) $696,266
    Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) $681,823
    Feingold, Russ (D-WI) $665,469
    Landrieu, Mary L (D-LA) $643,640
    Coleman, Norm (R-MN) $597,699
    Mikulski, Barbara A (D-MD) $584,859

    SOURCE –

  12. Kathleen
    November 16, 2013, 4:46 pm

    Have been able to link to Mondoweiss, Going To Tehran links for the last three years onto Huffington Post site. As of the last few weeks when my comments are posted with links an alert comes up for my comments. This all started happening soon after a Colorado BDS link that I had posted about our protest in Denver made it through a moderator. Am not sure why I am being targeted but I am. Either after that BDS link or after our protest in Denver against JNF. Know a person who has been fired and a woman who is from Russia who was at the protest with us and and was recently told by I believe the State Dept that she needs to skidaddle on back to Russia asap. Max Blumenthal said last night at group dinner with him that he wanted to talk with both the woman who was fired for her job in Denver for leading the JNF protest and to the lady from Russia who is being pushed back to Russia before her planned time of departure we believe because she participated in the protest in Denver.

    My latest comment being hung up for two hours over at HP


    Super User · 388 Fans
    Let’s hope a deal is made based on facts not special interest unsubstantiated claims about Iran. Hey even the Economist is stepping out of the box a bit on this critical issue

    Barack, Bibi and Iran
    16 Nov 9:55 AM

    THE FOLLOWING IS THE ALERT THAT COMES UP EVERY TIME I AM COMMENTING OVER THERE. I have not had anything like this and I have been commenting over there since 2005
    Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this article, your comment may take longer to appear publicly.

    • MRW
      November 16, 2013, 5:06 pm

      Kathleen, I get that intermittently. Depends on the article topic.

      • Kathleen
        November 16, 2013, 6:23 pm

        Nah MRW I have been commenting and putting up links over there since 2005. Not until about four or so years ago would Mondoweiss, Going to Tehran links etc be let up. Then for the last four or five years have had no problem getting these links up.

        Really did notice this alert go up when my comments go up or links for anything. Someone complained. Or a group of someone’s. This change and alert just started popping up consistently after a Colorado BDS link advertising our protest of the JNF went up on the site. OK could be happening to many others..maybe a change in policy over there again. But these new alerts started coming up with my comments just two or so weeks ago.

        HP closing down their wider spectrum again. Which of course that site needs badly. Link over there because there is so much traffic

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        November 17, 2013, 8:33 am

        I get the same – someone in Huffington Post has my account flagged.

    • Justpassingby
      November 16, 2013, 5:11 pm


      You might be about to be banned, because it has probably to do with this.

      • Kathleen
        November 16, 2013, 6:25 pm

        Interesting but I have been commenting over there for years with no problem. One thing for sure if you put up even the slightest constructive criticism under Arianna’s post they never ever make it up. She seems like a bit of a very wealthy dictator.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        November 17, 2013, 8:35 am

        I always comment under my own name. So it has to do with my comments and not with anonymity.

  13. Susie Kneedler
    Susie Kneedler
    November 16, 2013, 5:17 pm

    Thanks, Kathleen: just became a “fan” of Cathleen there.

    • Kathleen
      November 16, 2013, 6:26 pm

      Susie when I move back to Athens, Ohio next year for about six months would love to coordinate some projects with you. You are rockin the boat in Columbus

      • Susie Kneedler
        Susie Kneedler
        November 16, 2013, 8:02 pm

        Yes, thanks, Kathleen, I’ll look forward to it–though I wish I’d done as much to free Palestine as you and many others at M/W. Love hearing about the great work you’re doing in Colo. for peace and justice.

      • Kathleen
        November 17, 2013, 4:31 am

        You are helping lead the way in Columbus. All of us joining team efforts. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
        ― Margaret Mead

        Those small groups focused on this critical issue have been growing by leaps and bounds the last 10 years.

      • Susie Kneedler
        Susie Kneedler
        November 18, 2013, 9:23 am

        Many people here, young and old, are amazing in their initiative and integrity–like you and all at M/W. And thanks for your suggestions below, Kathleen.

  14. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    November 17, 2013, 3:43 am

    There are three possibilities:
    1. Israeli interference (and the French) cause the talks to break down. From an MW point of view this would be the best result, for it would show the power of Israel and the damage of the breakdown in talks will be obvious for all to blame on Israel.
    2. Israeli interference (and the French) improve the results of the talks. (The term “improve” implies that Phil agrees that the further Iran is kept from the nuclear threshold, the better. This is an assumption based on his support for Obama, who would surely state the equation improvement=Iran further from nuclear threshold.) This is the worst scenario for MW, because then it was “good cop/bad cop” and Netanyahu/France’s big mouths and hardline positions helped in the deal instead of hurt and that makes Israel a contributor to the process and not the destroyer of the process.
    3. A deal is reached that is no better than that which was rejected two weeks ago. How will France back down from its position? How will Israel react? This is the most interesting possibility. (interesting as in the curse- “may you live in interesting times.”

    • Kathleen
      November 17, 2013, 4:27 am

      Take that, France: Iran has Halted Expansion of Nuclear Facilities: IAEA

      Posted on 11/14/2013 by Juan Cole

      Iran has actually done some of the things that French Foriegn Minister Laurent Fabius was demanding when he derailed the agreement on confidence-building at the Geneva conference last weekend, according to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency

  15. Kathleen
    November 17, 2013, 4:24 am

    Tried to get the article Phil linked to at the Economist up again at HP. No luck. HP shutting their doors to a wider, deeper coverage of critical issues. But no problem over there if you want to read about Oprah, Alec Baldwin, etc. HP headed towards total superficiality.


    Super User · 389 Fans
    Let’s hope a deal is made based on facts not special interest groups unsubstantiated claims about Iran.

    Barack,Bibi and Iran
    a minute ago
    Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this article, your comment may take longer to appear publicly.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      November 17, 2013, 2:36 pm

      Bravo, Kathleen. Keep us the great work!

      • Kathleen
        November 18, 2013, 7:26 am

        So the above comment of mine along with the link to the article in the Economist that Phil linked above has not been put up at Huff Po. I put it up twice This is absolutely pathetic that HP will now not allow their participants to access a wider spectrum from that site.

        I encourage others to try to put up links to Mondoweiss, Going to Tehran under blog post that are appropriate over there to see if they get up. This is very serious censorship

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 18, 2013, 2:10 pm

        Bravo, Kathleen.

      • Kathleen
        November 18, 2013, 10:00 pm

        Huffington Post must be catching some flak because they are censoring in far more restrictive ways than they have been. Very sad and telling. Walking backwards they are

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 19, 2013, 6:29 pm

        You are surely correct, Kathleen. And it is sad.

  16. Citizen
    November 17, 2013, 5:29 am

    Here’s an article saying there’s a consensus between the P-5+1 and Iran; if the talks were made transparent to the public it would be quickly clear who’s being obstructionist:

  17. Citizen
    November 17, 2013, 5:36 am

    From RT:

    “As Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted in the last 40 hours – from late Thursday of last week to late Saturday – is that he was turned upside down. He claims that as much as 50 percent of the text they agreed upon was essentially gutted, as he put it, by the objections coming from France, in particular. So definitely the Iranians are going to be very skeptical about the intentions of the six powers in these negotiations. They are going to insist on guarantees that it will not happen again. Obviously, they are going to insist that the text be returned at least substantially to what was before this sabotage took place over the weekend.”

  18. James Canning
    James Canning
    November 17, 2013, 2:35 pm

    I do think Netanyahu and his very rich friends in the US are trying to block any deal with Iran.

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