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Dr. Charles G. Cogan
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Dr. Charles G. Cogan is an associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) at the Kennedy School, Harvard University. He was the Chief Near East South Asia Division in the Operations Directorate of the CIA 1979-1984, the Division that directed the American side of the resistance against the Soviets in Afghanistan at the time.

Entries by Dr. Charles G. Cogan

Jerked Around After All These Years

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 10:36 AM

John Kerry, the Secretary of State, has yet to notch a significant diplomatic victory in the second administration of President Obama. However he seems less hapless on this score today than yesterday. After endless hours of fruitless negotiations toward a peace settlement in 2013-2014, it turns out that his opposite...

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Bibi's Talk: The 51st State Is Heard From

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2015 | 8:42 AM

Using a little imagination, one can picture Netanyahu yesterday at the podium of the U.S. Congress as another of the lawmakers of the Republic expounding on the burning issues of the day -- in this case the Iranian nuclear program.

On another level, one can ask oneself what is...

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'Germany Is Out of the Danger Business'

(1) Comments | Posted February 26, 2015 | 7:29 AM

These words were spoken to me by the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, John Kornblum, in an interview I had with him in his office in Pariser Platz in Berlin which he had set up following his ambassadorship.

Ambassador Kornblum went on to say that Germany was in a state...

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"Chess Is the Way We Establish Mastery Over the West"

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 12:00 PM

I can't remember who said it, but I know it was said by a Russian General during the Cold War. As a chess player, figuratively speaking, Vladimir Putin has turned in a bravura performance over the past months, alternating hot and cold, offering peace initiatives and then turning aggressive, and...

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Israel Is Not at the Water's Edge; It Is Inside the U.S.

(76) Comments | Posted January 27, 2015 | 3:33 PM

The spectacle of a foreign head of government being invited to speak before the U.S. Congress in early March without the American president being first officially notified leaves, or should leave, the American and Israeli publics in a state of stupefaction.

It is not that a foreign head of state...

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Far From the Gates of Vienna

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 9:37 AM

"We are at war but not a war against religion...It is a war against terrorism and radical Islam."

These words were the coda of a fiery speech delivered by Prime Minister Manuel Valls before the French National Assembly on Jan. 13 -- words which seemed to be...

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France's Terrible Swift Sword

(0) Comments | Posted January 16, 2015 | 10:33 AM

The stirring martial line from the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" comes to mind in contemplating the amazing feat of the French security services: In a country of 66 million people and in a matter of two days, localizing and liquidating the two terrorist brothers of Algerian descent...

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The Beam in One's Own Eye

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 11:30 AM

This reported phrase from the Sermon on the Mount aimed at hypocrisy comes to mind as I contemplate the "furious" reaction of Pakistani officials at the portrayal of their country and their countrymen in the TV series Homeland, now having just completed its fourth season, which dealt primarily...

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Anything But Florissant

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2014 | 2:05 PM

A great many English words have their origin in French. According to Wikipedia, it is 45 percent. Most Americans are unaware of this or don't even think about it. Perhaps the most famous case in point is that of George W. Bush, to whom has been attributed, rightly or wrongly,...

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Invitation to a Beheading

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2014 | 6:46 AM

Borrowing a title from the book by Vladimir Nabokov, we can say that the beheadings of innocents in Syria have changed everything. Two British aid workers, two American journalists, and one American aid worker, executed for all the world to see. Events too horrible for our children to look at.

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Are We Ever Going to Have a Black President Again?

(1) Comments | Posted November 11, 2014 | 10:59 PM

In the short run, at the least, the signs are not favorable. Despite Barack Obama's intelligence, conscientiousness, and probity, what could be called the counter-revolution of the whites, as reflected in the 2014 midterm elections, has demonstrated, inter alia, the discomfort many Americans feel with a black couple being the...

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The Subtext of "Klinghoffer"

(0) Comments | Posted October 30, 2014 | 3:10 PM

"The Death of Klinghoffer" juxtaposes, in a brilliantly executed opera, one of the most horrible Palestinian terrorist acts of the 20th Century with the narrative of Palestinian suffering and deaths under the nearly fifty-year-old Israeli occupation. Whether it was out of place to put these two issues together in a...

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As a Political Schmoozer, Not Good; As a Military Commander, Not Bad

(0) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 9:31 AM

Aided by a spate of accounts by ex-officials, from Hillary Clinton to Robert Gates to Leon Panetta and others, an image has formed around President Obama that he is hesitant and indecisive, and that he does not like to schmooze the nation's lawmakers. Moreover, that he is too lawyerly and...

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Bibi's Never-Never Land

(152) Comments | Posted October 2, 2014 | 4:15 PM

Toward the end of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the UN on 29 September, he made the following statement:

I'm ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel occupies a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. History, archaeology and common...
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Straighten up and Fly Right

(0) Comments | Posted September 27, 2014 | 11:56 AM

It took ISIS and related allies' resorting to the ghastly medieval practice of beheading for the West and the outer world to get roused up. American public opinion, largely anti-war, turned around in an instant. Barack Obama, whose recent lackluster public appearances had given the impression, rightly or wrongly, that...

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A Very Special (Forces) President

(1) Comments | Posted September 12, 2014 | 8:56 AM

Two weeks ago at a press conference, Barack Obama stated that he didn't have a strategy on how to deal with Isis, the Sunni extremist group in Syria. What this highly intelligent but at times guileless President could have said was that he was working on developing such strategy.


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Collaborating With Assad Against ISIS: Wrong in the Circumstances

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 11:33 AM

As the United States comes to grips with how to deal with the large ISIS presence in Syria, the majority view, as expressed succinctly by Ryan Crocker, ex-Ambassador to (inter alia) Baghdad, on the Charlie Rose Show on 3 September, we should strike at ISIS in Syria, but in no...

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We Work Together...But We Live Apart

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 6:40 PM

This is the general rule regarding the interaction between whites and blacks in America. There are exceptions, of course, but this is the pattern.

This separation is the burden we carry from the origin of our Republic. Though we see ourselves as a "City on the Hill," an inspiration...

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Iraq: License to Intervene

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 3:13 PM

Early in the summer, as ISIS seized control of Mosul and swept southward down the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, a minority of observers, myself included, were wary of an all-out American counter strike against ISIS, in support of Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite regime and behind it, Iran. It seemed like unnecessarily...

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When One Human Being Is Weighed Less Against Another

(5) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 12:29 PM

Back in the revolutionary era, when the U.S. Constitution declared a black man to be worth three-fifths of a white man, it did not cause the same consternation and shame that it does today, as we contemplate the fact that such a dictum was included in our original Constitution. The...

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