THE SPINE FEBRUARY 25, 2009
Here is the most stunning prospective appointment of the Obama administration as yet. Not stunning as in "spectacular" or "distinguished" but stunning as in bigoted and completely out of synch with the deepest convictions of the American people. What's more, Charles "Chas" Freeman is a bought man, having been ambassador to Saudi Arabia and then having supped at its tables for almost two decades, supped quite literally, and supped also at home, courtesy of Prince Bandar, confidante of the Bushes who as everybody knows became extremely wealthy through the intimacy with the royal house, a story that has not been done adequately ever. That Chas, as he is so artfully called, also made himself a client of China and China a client of himself, is evidence that he has no humane or humanitarian scruples that underlay well, his unscrupulous political views, viz, his remonstrance to Beijing that it should have smashed the democracy protests as soon as they emerged on the streets...or before. I do not reproach Hillary Clinton for talking economics with China this time. But Freeman is predisposed also not to see the urgency of insurrectionary politics cropping up all over the vast Chinese empire.Chas Freeman is actually a new psychological type for a Democratic administration. He has never displayed a liberal instinct and wants the United States to kow-tow to authoritarians and tyrants, in some measure just because they may seem able to keep the streets quiet. And frankly, Chas brings a bitter rancor to how he looks at Israel. No Arab country and no Arab movement--basically including Hezbollah and Hamas--poses a challenge to the kind of world order we Americans want to see. He is now very big on Hamas as the key to bringing peace to Gaza, when in fact it is the key to uproar and bloodletting, not just against Israel but against the Palestinian Authority that is the only group of Palestinians that has even given lip-service (and, to be fair, a bit more) to a settlement with Israel.That Freeman would be chosen as the president's gatekeeper to national intelligence is an absurdity. It would be as if I were appointed the gatekeeper to that intelligence. But Freeman's real offense (and the president's if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history, from the Pilgrim fathers through Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. And how has he offended this tradition? By publishing and peddling the unabridged John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with panegyric and hysteria. If Freeman believes that this book is the truth he can't be trusted by anyone, least of all Barack Obama. I can't believe that Obama wants to appoint someone who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some many of his supporters, me included.Here are four comments on the prospective designation of good old Chas, friend of dictators and soon-to-be the vetter of what the president will see and not see. One of these comments is by Gabriel Schoenfeld in this morning's Wall Street Journal. The next two are from the Weekly Standard. The last is by Jeffrey Goldberg in his Atlantic Monthly blog.