Condi hires 'Cousin Eliot'Finally a smart move by Condi! Eliot Cohen, a 'prominent neo-conservative hawk' who teaches military history at Johns Hopkins has been named counselor to US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice.
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.He always did have a way with words :-) Eliot is considered an expert on the Middle East.
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".
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".Sounds good, doesn't it? There's much more here.
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.
For the record, Eliot is my third cousin and was a class ahead of me in high school in Boston. So you can take my compliments with a grain of salt :-)