I was absolutely, positively surprised when Ambassador Freeman was selected for the position of Chairman of the NIC and absolutely not surprised when the idea was attacked by the usual suspects, forcing him to withdraw his name from consideration. Like Gideon Rachman from the FT I believed that being a Realist was the main reason why Freeman was chosen for the job, which was quite refreshing move after eights years of having the members of the Faith-Based Community dominating the thinking in Washington. You don’t have to be a genius to conclude that Obama didn’t want to pickup a political fight with powerful players in Washington at a time when needs every vote in Congress and over an issue that he doesn’t care about. In any case, after marginalizing Zbigniew Brzezinski (who had served in the Carter Administration) and getting rid of Robert Malley (who had served in the Clinton Administration), much of the Obama’s Middle East policy is being managed now by uninspiring figures committed to the conventional wisdom, including the lifeless George Mitchell (who had served in the Clinton Administration), reflecting the White House’s decision to place the Mideast on the backburner while creating the impression that it’s “doing something.” I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I’d prove to be wrong on this.