Saturday, April 3, 2010

If You Think the Obama Administration's Middle East Policy is Bad Now, Just Consider This...

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By Barry Rubin

Charles (usually called Chas) Freeman has just taken another step in revealing his out-of-control loathing of Israel, accusing it of being worse than South Africa. Who is he and why is this significant?

It matters because Freeman, with nothing more to lose from making public his true feelings, had been the Obama Administration appointee--selected by intelligence chief Dennis Blair--to be chair of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman had to withdraw and though the real reason has never before been made public, it is this: he was involved in business with Saudi Arabia which came close to the borders of legality and certainly would have been very embarassing for him and the administration if made public.

Freeman's connections with China also raised questions. In fact, many think he had to pull out of the nomination more because of his defense of China's government at a time it was violently repressing dissent than for anything connected with Israel. It is clear, however, who Freeman blames for his humiliating defeat.

By the way, note that this gentleman who finds Israel so offensive has never had anything but praise for the Saudi political system and society.
Freeman was also a client of the Saudis to such an extent that then Secretary of State James Baker, who certainly couldn't be accused of being pro-Israel, described Freeman in scathing terms in his own autobiography for always taking the Saudi line in a way that interfered in the effort to force Iraq out of Kuwait in 1990-1991.

Since losing the nomination, Freeman has been more and more hysterical publicly in expressing his hatred of Israel, with strong hints that his attitude extended to Jews generally. Presumably, he held pretty much the same views beforehand but didn't talk so loudly about them.

The story of how Freeman was kept out of office is an amazing tale of how a handful of bloggers--without support from any group or institution--forced the story into public attention. One day I might tell it to you.

Meanwhile, though, reflect on how things would be if Freeman was in a high administration position and ask yourself what kind of administration would have appointed such a man to a highly influential post. The issue here is not just attitude toward Israel but picking someone who had some questionable associations, a bad record as ambassador, and seems--judging from his public statements--emotionally excitable and fairly extremist as well. Not the kind of cool, open-minded, and balanced mentality one would want in just about the most powerful post for evaluating intelligence.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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