Sunni Allies Balking at Cooperation

Trouble Looming for Rice

After noting that Saudi Arabia is dancing to its own tune with the Mecca Accords and meeting with Iran

The Saudi diplomatic maneuvers run parallel to key personnel shifts inside the State Department. On Friday, Ms. Rice named a Johns Hopkins University professor, Eliot Cohen, to be her counselor, a job held until January by Philip Zelikow, one of the main architects of the Sunni strategy. Another one of the boosters of the Sunni strategy, the current director of the State Department’s policy and planning office, Stephen Krasner, is said to be returning next month to Stanford University.

Mr. Cohen intellectually is neoconservative. He was an early supporter of the military intervention in Iraq and came out against recommendations from the Iraq Study Group in December to launch negotiations with Iraq’s neighbors. At the same time, he has also pulled no punches in his criticism of the military occupation of Iraq and, in an interview published in January by Vanity Fair, predicted that the future in the Middle East carries many dangers as a result of the war.

Last year, Mr. Cohen wrote a blistering critique of a paper by University of Chicago professor, John Mearsheimer, and a Harvard University professor, Stephen Walt, that contended the Iraq war was the result of the machinations of a widespread ” Israel lobby” that stifled public debate on foreign affairs and skewed American foreign policy away from its national interest. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Mr. Cohen said the paper was anti-Semitic.

On Friday, the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said he thought Mr. Cohen would focus largely on Iraq and Afghanistan. “He’ll be able to really look at our posture in both of those places and make an assessment for the secretary, and then, of course, come back and provide any suggestions … how we might change or adjust that posture.”

March 5, 2007 | Comments Off on Sunni Allies Balking at Cooperation

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