Nick Cohen

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

British journalist.

'Lobbying hard for war'

In February 2003, the Independent columnist Johann Hari (who has since apologised for his pro-war stance [1]) identified Cohen as one of a group of centre-left figures 'lobbying hard' for the US/UK invasion of Iraq:

A year ago, the proposals for a second Gulf War seemed very much the brainchild of the American right. The intellectual arguments backing the conflict emerged almost entirely from hard-right US think-tanks and senators. But then, a funny thing happened: a significant portion of the dissident left began to come out, in dribs and drabs, for overthrowing Saddam by force. There is now a considerable school of British centre-left thinkers and commentators who are lobbying hard for war, so that the Iraqi people can be freed: Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen, John Lloyd, Julie Burchill, Roger Alton and David Aaronovitch.[2]

Critic of the Bush administration

In 2002, Cohen was a sharp critic of US foreign policy:

the deployment of 'anti-Americanism' as an insult which brands anyone who opposes Bush and his British sidekick as racist doesn't work. The same logic which Defense Planning Guidance uses to imagine a world where America can be the only grown-up also allows double standards which have destroyed the moral authority America held after 11 September. How can America (and Britain) declare war against Iraq for possessing weapons of mass destruction when the US won't accept any controls on its nuclear, chemical or biological weapons? How can the US call Saddam Hussein a war criminal, when it won't accept the jurisdiction of an international criminal court?[3]

Support for the Iraqi National Congress

Cohen expressed support for Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress in April 2002, after visiting its London offices and interviewing Latif Rashid.[4]

Paul Wolfowitz

Cohen described meeting Paul Wolfowitz in What's Left?:

I saw him at press briefing in London in 2004. It was a disconcerting occasion. His adviser told me to meet him in a Mayfair nightclub more usually associated with minor royals than shabby journalists. To make matters worse, the bulk of Wolfowitz's audience consisted of Conservative pundits I'd attacked over the years - occasionally fairly. This wasn't my world and I found the only other leftie in the room and huddled next to him for warmth. We listened to Wolfowitz present a coherent case for helping the democratic movement in Iran fight the priests. It was hard not to be impressed by his seriousness of purpose.
"On the way out, I asked my friend, "what's wrong with supporting the overthrow of a theocracy?"
"Well, it may not work, but apart from that, nothing."[5]

Cohen gave another account of meeting Wolfowitz in the Evening Standard:

FEW months ago, I received a call from a pleasant American who said that Paul Wolfowitz had read my articles in the New Statesman. Wolfowitz reading the Lefty New Statesman?
Yes, and he was coming to London and would like me to join him at Annabel's. After I had mumbled that I wasn't from the best society and she'd have to tell me where Annabel's was, I went along. I was clearly in the presence of real power - it wasn't at all like being in the same room as Michael Howard.
But, equally clearly, I was in the presence of a politician who was committed to extending human freedom.[6]

According to Cristina Odone, "when Paul Wolfowitz asked to meet some of Britain's leading journalists, The Observer's Nick Cohen found himself sitting next to John Lloyd and Charles Moore, drinking champagne.[7]

On Obama

On January 2010 Cohen wrote an article calling Obama 'the most reactionary president since Nixon'. In his spirited defence of 'humanitarian' intervention, he made no mention of Afghanistan. This may not be so extraordinary considering the for his attack on Obama Cohen relies on a 'a forthcoming analysis for the Henry Jackson Society by Lawrence Haas, a former aide to Al Gore'.[8]



Nick Cohen


  • Cruel Britannia, Verso, 1999.
  • Pretty Straight Guys, Faber, 2003.
  • What’s Left?, 4th Estate, 2007.


  1. Johann Hari, After three years, after 150,000 dead, why I was wrong about Iraq,, 18 March 2006
  2. Johann Hari, ‘Whose side are you on?’, Independent, 25 February 2003
  3. With a friend like this..., by Nick Cohen, The Observer, 7 April 2002.
  4. Our enemy's enemies, by Nick Cohen, The Observer, 14 April 2002.
  5. Nick Cohen, What's Left? How the Left lost its way?, Harper Perennial, 2007, pp.81-82.
  6. AND WHAT NOW FOR THE OTHER WRONGED PARENTS, Nick Cohen, Evening Standard,21 June 2005, p. 15
  7. It's going to be all change at Annabel's, by Cristina Odone, The Observer, 10 June 2007.
  8. Nick Cohen, Obama is the most reactionary president since Nixon, The Guardian, 24 January 2010
  9. Just Journalism Advisory board, retrieved from the Internet Archive of 15 April 2008 (Accessed: 20 November 2010)
  10. Just Journalism Advisory board, Accessed: 20 November 2010
  11. National Secular Society Our Honorary Associates. Accessed 20 September 2015.