The first real skirmish over whether the Israel lobby and the neocons still call foreign policy shots in the Obama age is over Chas Freeman, former ambassador to China and Saudi Arabia and a superb exemplar of the foreign policy sensibility of an older American establishment — worldly, internationalist, able to discern that America’s national interests don’t necessarily coincide with the wishes of the right wing faction of one particular Middle Eastern ethnostate. Obama has named him to an influential intelligence post.
As well chronicled by Bob Dreyfuss, there’s a full court press on to block the appointment.
I’ve met Freeman: he’s a very impressive guy. Since his words are being quoted a lot, I’d like to add this, his pungent criticism of the Bush/neocon foreign policy, from a speech given in 2007:
“In retrospect, Al Qaeda has played us with the finesse of a matador exhausting a great bull by guiding it into unproductive lunges at the void behind his cape. By invading Iraq, we transformed an intervention in Afghanistan most Muslims had supported into what looks to them like a wider war against Islam. We destroyed the Iraqi state and catalyzed anarchy, sectarian violence, terrorism, and civil war in that country.
Meanwhile, we embraced Israel’s enemies as our own; they responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies. We abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel’s efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize ever more Arab land for its colonists. This has convinced most Palestinians that Israel cannot be appeased and is persuading increasing numbers of them that a two-state solution is infeasible. It threatens Israelis with an unwelcome choice between a democratic society and a Jewish identity for their state. Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience – of humiliation, dislocation, and death – to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel and the United States each have our reasons for what we are doing, but no amount of public diplomacy can persuade the victims of our policies that their suffering is justified, or spin away their anger, or assuage their desire for reprisal and revenge.”
If Obama caves in on this appointment, it will be a strong early sign of an emasculated presidency.