February 25, 2009

The Louse of Saud

Hatched by Dafydd

Foreign Policy magazine announced last week that a fellow named Chas W. Freeman, current (or former) president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), will be President Barack H. Obama's pick to chair the National Intelligence Council, the lead group in creating the National Intelligence Estimates that drive policy on intelligence issues. The NIC reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), currently Dennis Blair; it is not an inconsequential group within the intelligence community.

Who is Chas W. Freeman, jr.?

He is a former ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Clinton presidency. He serves on the MEPC with such luminaries as George McGovern, top executives from Boeing, ExxonMobil, and the Carlyle Group -- all of which have multibillion-dollar investments in Saudi Arabia -- a CIA consultant, and a Palestinian immigrant named Talat Othman, who came to our attention most recently in 2002, when he vigorously protested against the FBI raids of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, created in 1981 by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Freeman may not be the best fit for this critical job, however:

  • The MEPC, hence Freeman himself, is funded by the House of Saud to lobby on behalf of the Kingdom, which it does frequently in its journal, Middle East Policy.
  • Chas Freeman is of the opinion that China's real sin in dealing with the demonstators at Tiananmen Square was that they were too lenient and "overly cautious": "[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China."

    To put it bluntly, Freeman is an authoritarian crank who believes that "domestic tranquility" is more important that freedom of speech.

  • Freeman and the MEPC were the first in America to publish the anti-Israel and antisemitic screed "the Israel Lobby" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer; even one of Freeman's supporters, David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine, calls that paper "frail intellectual framework" and a "jihad" against American support of Israel.

    Here is Freeman enthusing, crowing even, about his accomplishment in bringing this frail framework to American readers (from an interview with the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, SUSRIS): "Our Fall issue will contain a revised, updated, and unabridged version of the controversial paper by Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt on "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it. So we continue to do important things that are not done by anybody else, which I think fill some gaps."

The inner Freeman

But it's not simply that Freeman sucks up to Red China and King Abdullah of the House of Saud and opposes American support for Israel; he opposes Israel itself, seeing it as the source of all problems in the Middle East.

The MEPC website posts a speech Freeman gave to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs in 2007; the spech concludes:

[T]he problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region -- the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it.

Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending. Arab identification with Palestinian suffering, once variable in its intensity, is now total. American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel's American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation -- whatever form it takes -- will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture.

The Palestine problem cannot be solved by the use of force; it requires much more than the diplomacy-free foreign policy we have practiced since 9/11. Israel is not only not managing this problem; it is severely aggravating it. Denial born of political correctness will not cure this fact. Israel has shown -- not surprisingly -- that, if we offer nothing but unquestioning support and political protection for whatever it does, it will feel no incentive to pay attention to either our interests or our advice. Hamas is showing that if we offer it nothing but unreasoning hostility and condemnation, it will only stiffen its position and seek allies among our enemies. In both cases, we forfeit our influence for no gain.

There will be no negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, no peace, and no reconciliation between them -- and there will be no reduction in anti-American terrorism -- until we have the courage to act on our interests. These are not the same as those of any party in the region, including Israel, and we must talk with all parties, whatever we think of them or their means of struggle. Refusal to reason with those whose actions threaten injury to oneself, one's friends, and one's interests is foolish, feckless, and self-defeating. That is why it is past time for an active and honest discussion with both Israel and the government Palestinians have elected, which -- in an irony that escapes few abroad -- is the only democratically elected government in the Arab world.

Remember, this speech was given in 2007 -- after several successive democratic elections in Iraq brought that government to power. Remember also that, while Hamas may have been elected, those elections were hardly fair and certainly not free... unless we imagine that gangland assassinations of one's political opponents creates no "fear factor" among those opponents' supporters.

So let's sum this up:

  1. Israel's "occupation" of Palestine is responsible for all the terrorism launched against the United States (which would be news to Osama bin Laden, who thought it was our presence on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia);
  2. Israel also controls American policy (Freeman has wholly absorbed the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis of the "Israel Lobby," through which the Jews pull the puppet strings of the world;
  3. That's why everybody hates America and cheers on Islamic terrorism;
  4. Israel is unreformable and must be destroyed;
  5. Hamas is Democratic, honest, and reasonable, and is only responding in a reasonable way to our "unreasoning hostility and condemnation," which is forced upon us by our Israeli puppeteers.
  6. (And by omission, Iraq is an undemocratic puppet government of the United States -- hence a grandpuppet of Israel.)

Mr. Freeman's Israel delenda est rant is not a one-shot; here he is in 2005, discussing (what else?) the "Israeli occupation":

[A]s long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis.

I certainly agree with that last point! But I draw my concurrance more from the nature of Palestinian and Arab mass psychosis than from the mad idea that Israel should commit national suicide so that people will think well of the Jews.

Freeman does not confine his hatred to Israel; he sees not only Israel's "American backers" as enemies to be reviled, but America itself; we, he says, are to blame for all the troubles in Iraq... Iraq was, one presumes, a calm and peaceful place -- before Americans mindlessly invaded:

In Iraq, the problem is not now – if it ever was – weapons of mass destruction, bad government, or even terrorism; it is the occupation. The occupation generates the very phenomena it was intended to cure. In that respect, the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq has come to have much in common with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In Iraq, as in Palestine, ending the occupation is the prerequisite for reversing the growth of terrorism and restoring peace.

Like Solla Sollew, there were no problems -- or at least very few -- in Iraq before we inexplicably invaded the peaceful Land of Two Rivers and overturned its democratically elected leader. On instructions from Israel, no doubt.

As to his perspicacity about events that are at the very core of his field of interest, here is Freeman's 2005 prediction of "the best outcome still possible in Iraq":

The best outcome still possible in Iraq, it now seems, is a Shia-dominated state with a largely autonomous southern region heavily influenced by Iran and a Kurdish region independent in all but name.

Or, perhaps, a stable democratic state with deep and widespread participation by every ethnic group and all tribes, firmly accepted by the people as representative of their interests. And with Muqtada Sadr driven into exile in (where is that again?) Iran. Oh, wait; that wasn't one of the buttons on Mr. Freeman's voicemail.

Mismatch point

The two most vital duties of the chairman of the National Intelligence Council are presidential gatekeeping and unbiased analysis: controlling what intel the president sees and what he thinks about what he sees.

But Freeman is not unbiased; he has a dog in the fight. He has chosen up sides. Freeman supports Saudi Arabia, the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Authority, and Iran's primary source of military equipment, the People's Republic of China; and he vehemently opposes Israel and a strong American presence in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Freeman's biases have already led him to make frankly risible pronunciamentos that sound like something from CAIR's website.

These interests are not only ideological but financial as well: Freeman won't be in government service forever, and he has once and future patrons to placate.

And this is the man who will determine what intel gets to the desk of President Barack H. Obama -- who is himself already ambivalent about Israel, the Arabs, and America's role in that volatile region. Suppose the NIC comes across intelligence of a looming terrorist attack on the homeland by a bunch of Saudis or Palestinians (this is not exactly a far-fetched scenario); but suppose the intel comes from Mossad, and it's hotly denied by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the head of the Saudi intelligence service. Would Freeman pass it on to the president? Or would he roll his eyes, give a Chris Matthews-like "oh God," and bury it in the "nothing to see here, time to MoveOn" file?

How can we ever be sure that Chairman Freeman is being guided by an unbiased evaluation of conflicting intelligence claims, rather than by the hand of King Abdullah the Munificent?

I realize this may be a rhetorical question, but is this really who America wants heading up the main intelligence evaluating committee advising both the president and the DNI?

But at least Samantha Power and Zbigniew Brzezinski will have congenial company at the Durban II antisemitism rally; they can all sit about and discuss Palestinian resistance with the representatives of Iran, the KSA, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

UPDATE: Two thoughts with but a single mind between them... (But I like my title better!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2009, at the time of 5:12 PM

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