Richard Cohen should probably stop writing about war

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

It seems like whenever Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes about war, he ends up making himself look like a fool, either by writing something foolish in its own right, or by reminding us of his previous foolishness.

Cohen, "A novel way to argue for war," last night:

I hope Obama succeeds. But if he does nothing else, he showed that it is possible to urge a nation to war by using reason and logic, facts and figures -- and not by waving the bloody shirt of patriotic fibs. George Bush had faith in his war but not in the American people. Obama seems to have faith in both. [Emphasis added]

Funny, I seem to remember Cohen endorsing George Bush's case for "his war" not because of logic, facts and figures, but because Bush had Colin Powell on his side.

Cohen, "A Winning Hand For Powell," February 6, 2003:

The evidence [Colin Powell] presented to the United Nations-some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail-had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool-or, possibly, a Frenchman-could conclude otherwise.

The clincher, as it had to be, was not a single satellite photo or the intercept of one Iraqi official talking to another. And it was not, as it never could be, the assertion that some spy or Iraqi deserter had made this or that charge -- because, of course, who can prove any of that? It was the totality of the material and the fact that Powell himself had presented it. In this case, the messenger may have been more important than the message. [Emphasis added]

And Cohen didn't always think it was George Bush who failed to use "reason and logic" in the Iraq war debate.

Cohen, "Antiwar And Illogical," February 25, 2003:

[S]omething truly awful has happened. The looming war has already become deeply and biliously ideological. By that I mean that the extremes on both sides -- but particularly the war's opponents -- no longer feel compelled to prove a case or stick to the facts. As with Vietnam, this is becoming an emotional battle between ideologues who, as usual, don't give a damn about the truth. [Emphasis added]

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