GLENN BECK PROGRAM
GLENN: Back with Jared Cohen. The name of the book is children of jihad. I've got to tell you, I don't think I've ever felt better, I tell you what.
Stu, besides the unleash women, what have I said since the beginning that is the key to understanding radicalism in the Middle East, the key to understanding everything that's going on in the Middle East? What is the one word that describes all of it that if you don't understand this, you don't understand anything?
GLENN: No, the reason why I want to point that out is because you went to where? Oxford and -- I never went to college and I got that. I just, I feel better. I feel better.
STU: He did do it, what, 18 years faster than you.
GLENN: Okay, all right, let's not dwell on that.
COHEN: Young people in the Middle East, I'm really delighted to hear you say that. Young people in the middle east need satisfaction on two realms, in the education realm and they need satisfaction in the social realm. If you go to the Middle East, the public schools are a disaster and there's nothing for these kids to do opt street. They already are being socialized in a society where they are not satisfied in either of those realms. So almost every young person with the exception of the elite is already wandering around looking for educational opportunities and looking for social and recreational opportunities. Why does a young kid's parents send them to a religious medrosa? Not because they are fanatical necessarily. They teach, it's a safe environment. Even though they are just memorizing the Qur'an, it will bring them status as opposed to going to an empty classroom and having no meal. In the recreational realm, you know, a lot of these extremist -- and what's Al-Qaeda's youth strategy? They offer young people an outlet for adventure, a sense of belonging, a heroic aftermath and ultimate an expensive field trip. Hezbollah's no different. Why are the majority of these young kids protesting in downtown Beirut right now even though they are not blowing themselves up is because they have never been to Beirut before.
GLENN: So what is your solution here?
COHEN: For me the solution isn't necessarily to try and win hearts and minds. The solution is if you look at these young people desiring educational opportunities and social recreational opportunities, it's not so much about winning hearts and minds as much as it is diverting these impressionable young people away from the recruitment process into the alternatives that they desire.
GLENN: Okay. But the State Department just -- and this is such a -- this is mind boggling to me. The State Department, we had, you know, money being funneled over to, you know, democracy groups and money being funneled to people who want freedom in Iran. We cut that. I mean, we're being left with very few options here. In Iran in particular, we've got to help people stand up for themselves and foster this and yet our own State Department doesn't want to do it anymore.
COHEN: The politics of there are very complex. I mean, there's a lot of diversity of opinion in terms of what money should or should not be spent towards promoting democracy in Iran and how it should be done. The one thing I can tell you, if you look at the Middle East and people often say to pee young people in that world don't want democracy and I often push back and say that's garbage. If you want to know if young people buy into democracy, go sit with them in an Internet cafe. They are online. They are using false identities and finding all kinds of creative ways to circumvent their regimes and circumvent their parents and circumvent their societies so they can express themselves. The number one television show in the middle East is not Al-Jazeera, it's star academy and the biggest customers are Saudi. They like it because they can call in and text in and generate their own media. What these young kids don't buy into is the word democracy, how it's been translated to them and what it's been associated with. But if you talk to them about all the different components of democracy, if you talk to them about how they are actually practicing --
GLENN: I get this and I think most people do. What's happening to us is we're being pushed into a corner. I think bombing Iran the worst thing we could possibly do. The people of Iran are just like us. How do we encourage them to do what we can't do and that's topple their regime? What should we do?
COHEN: I'll tell you the biggest problem in Iran right now is that young people there can tell you exactly what kind of society they don't want, they can tell you exactly what kind of society they do want. These young Iranians cannot tell you for the life of them who they want to lead them. They cannot find a single leader to gravitate around and so without a leader to mobilize them, they are not going to go to this. That's part of it. They are also terrified as a legacy of the student riots and what happened in 1999 but also a lot of them have lost confidence in the reform movement. So if they go to the streets and risk getting arrested or detained, who in the government are they actually trying to influence? They don't feel like they have an advocate in the establishment right now.
Now, I believe that the next leader of Iran is going to come from this youth generation. We don't know who it is. So the most important thing is to keep these young kids wanting to resist and right now a lot of these young people are resisting socially and recreationally. It sometimes filters over into political resistance but what they are doing socially and recreationally is inherently political.
GLENN: Give me one thing because we've got to run here. But give me one part that I find fascinating. Tell the nose job story.
COHEN: Well, it's funny. I was driving with an Iranian girl that I had met in one of the Iranian cities and we were on one of these late night streets where young kids are drag racing and on roofs of cars, you know, drinking and flirting with each other and I kept seeing girls with bandages on their noses. Literally everywhere I turn. And I said to her, does everybody in this country get a nose job? And she looks at me and said, oh, those are fake. I said, of course it's fake. Why do you think I'm asking, does everybody get a nose job. And she said to me, no, what I mean is if 20 girls have bandages, 19 of them are fake because they do it for status and prestige.
GLENN: They're getting -- so it's like selling bandages as a status symbol?
COHEN: Yeah, precisely.
GLENN: That's insanity. You tell me that they're not like us. I mean, except we would have a little polo pony on.
COHEN: I would love to just throw one more thing in about the nuclear issue, if I may.
COHEN: Iranians support, overwhelmingly support the nuclear program in that country not because they support the regime but because they support Iraq. They lump weapons and energy together in the same category of advancement. Now, the advantage we have with young Iranians and the nuclear program is that while it's a priority to them, it's not as much a priority as the bad economy, the pollution, the crime, the lack of help, the taxes they are not supposed to have to pay but they do have to pay. And so the strategy, you know, to get these young Iranians, it's not to get them to abandon their support for the nuclear program. It's to get them to focus on hire priorities and what these Iranian young people haven't been shown is the opportunity cost of the nuclear program. They haven't been shown, here's what you're not getting because your regime is supporting a very, very expensive nuclear program that's driving your country into isolation.
GLENN: All right. Well, a fascinating read, children of jihad. Jared Cohen, thank you very much. And are you going back?
COHEN: To Iran?
COHEN: No, I'm actually banned for life. So I don't think I can --
GLENN: Banned from?
COHEN: The irony is I end up getting trouble in all these countries. I was getting threatened by Hezbollah, so I had to leave. I was picked up by Syrian intelligence and I wasn't allowed back into Iran afterwards.
GLENN: And so Hezbollah threatened you?
COHEN: By text message.
GLENN: In the McDonald's? Outside the McDonald's? Good, good. All right, thanks a lot. You bet.