The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Cook-ing up (pro-Israel) reform of the Middle East

with 2 comments

How many pro-Israelis have to support the Arab uprisings before people begin to suspect that Israel might be partial to a little “democratic change” in the region?

Among those who have enthusiastically backed what Shimon Peres approvingly refers to as the Arab “awakening,” I’ve already noted the following Israel partisans: Robert Kagan, Elliott Abrams, Ellen Bork, William Kristol, Carl Gershman, Martin Peretz, Natan Sharansky, Bernard Lewis, David Keyes, Ronald Lauder, Sheldon Adelson, Larry Diamond, Jared Cohen, Tamara Wittes, George Soros, Peter Ackerman, Kenneth Wollack, Sheldon Himmelfarb, Robert Satloff, David Pollock, Norman J. Pattiz, Walter Issacson, Nicholas Kristof, Anne Applebaum, Kenneth Pollack, Josh Block, Max Kampelman, Joshua Muravchik, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Nicole Lapin, Jason Liebman, Madeleine Albright, Joe Lieberman, and last, but certainly not least in his fealty to the Jewish state, John McCain.

The latest pro-Israel advocate of democracy promotion in the Middle East to come to my attention is Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) senior fellow Steven A. Cook. Writing on his CFR blog on May 3 about the unrest in Syria, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies urged President Obama to publicly back the opposition, increase sanctions, and call for President Assad’s departure. Despite the risk of “generalized instability” that would likely ensue from Assad’s fall, Cook opined that the “potential for isolating Iran … is worth the risk.”

Like many a policy “expert” willing to take risks with American interests, Cook has quite an impressive pro-Israel pedigree. In the late 1990s, he was a Soref Research Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the AIPAC-created think tank. In 2004, he authored “The Unspoken Power: Civil-Military Relations and the Prospects for Reform” for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy — named after Haim Saban, the Egyptian-born Israeli-American media mogul who admitted to the New York Times that Israel was the only issue that concerned him. In that paper, Cook advocated political liberalization and economic reform in the Middle East and the broader Islamic world, a theme which he pursued as director of the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. policy toward reform in the Arab world, and in his 2007 book, “Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.” And when he isn’t busy promoting democratic reform in Israel’s neighbourhood, he reportedly “works overtime” to make sure the U.S. shares Israeli policy objectives.

And like the National Endowment for Democracy’s program officer for Middle East and North Africa, Amira Maaty, and former State Department official and CFR adjunct fellow Jared Cohen, (who “has written about how technology can empower citizens in repressive regimes”), Cook just happened to arrive in Cairo in time to witness the protests that could herald the reform he has long sought.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

May 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. As usual, it’s all about us. And by “us,” I mean U.S. And by, “U.S.” I, of course, mean Iran.

    According to Cook (and pretty much all of his imperial Zionist colleagues), any action at all – no matter how stupid, illegal, or dangerous – is “worth it” as long as there is a short-term perception that the action will in some way harm, disempower, or isolate Iran.

    The obsession with Iran is truly embarrassing, let alone hypocritical. “Iran is meddling in the affairs of foreign countries!” they all cry with incredulity, as we invade, occupy, and destroy Iran’s neighbors; as we murder, traumatize, demonize, dehumanize, and displace millions; as we prop up dictators who remain silent about (or are complicit in) the ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestine and allow our military bases and fleets to use their countries as launching pads for more aggressive domination and destruction of their region.

    Cook is almost giddy at the prospect of dealing “a major blow to Iranian ambitions” – ambitions which are never articulated. They don’t need to be, of course, since the conception of “Iran = scary bearded evil” is already well-established and never challenged.

    All Cook writes about Iran’s “influence” in the “broader arena of Middle Eastern politics” is that it “support[s] Hizballah, Hamas, and plac[es] traditional U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan on the defensive.”

    These are supposed to be bad things, of course. Cook assumes his readers share his myopia.

    Why would it be surprising that a revolutionary government that came to power by rising up in opposition to and overthrowing a U.S.-backed tyrannical dictatorship in its own country and whose own Constitution obligates it to (while “scrupulously refraining from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations”), “supporting the just struggles of the oppressed against the oppressors in every corner of the globe” would support groups which resist American and Israeli hegemony over their own people and lands? How dare an independent nation put U.S.-backed monarchies on the “defensive”?!

    Iranian independence and stability is the biggest threat to U.S. and Zionist control of land and resources in the world today. No wonder people like Cook are so worried.

    Nima Shirazi

    May 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm

  2. […] doesn’t he denounce the key role Israel partisans played in bringing about the Iraq War or their cheering on of the Arab Spring both of which have greatly facilitated the “Islamicized Middle East” he decries? Share […]


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