Chas Freeman‘s chance to run the National Intelligence Council will never come, because Freeman withdrew his name under a smear campaign by Israeli lobbies in Washington and their eager acolytes in Congress, in print, and on television. Maybe some in the White House decided to embarrass themselves and sink their own appointment? Who knows what difference he would make. Would his astute, mild criticisms of American-Israeli policies and accurate readings of regional disgust with West Bank colonization have led in one way or another to, say, American pressure on Israel to stop settlements? Or to broker regional peace through the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative? To prep another Arab leader to act like Sadat and fly to Jerusalem, or, better yet, an Israeli prime minister to fly to Beirut or Damascus as a gesture of peace? The last is never happening, but we can dream right?
Either way, Freeman’s name is withdrawn and the powers that be in the corners of Washington that don’t have ballots keep a hold over American foreign policy. Among those politicians in AIPAC’s pocket who took such personal offense to Freeman’s appointment was Chuck Schumer, whose offense sent out this:
“Charles Freeman was the wrong guy for this position. His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration. I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing.”
[Freeman] was a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and is close to the Saudis. The real rub, the basis of the whole controversy, however, is that he has been far more critical of Israeli policy than is generally allowed within acceptable debate in Washington.
Freeman posted a message to Foreign Policy’s blog last night announcing his resignation. All the headlines now talk about his “blasting the Israel lobby on his way out.” Mabrouk, as he should. Especially heret:
There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.
Here’s to America’s shooting itself in the foot, again. The Israelis will make Avigdor Lieberman their foreign minister while Chuck Schumer and others hold the reigns on Middle East thought in Washington.