Friday, March 06, 2009

Neocons Wage War on a 'Realist'

By Robert Parry
March 6, 2009

In a normal world, people in Washington might welcome the hiring of a “realist” to oversee the production of U.S. intelligence analyses, with the hope that even if the truth doesn’t set you free, it at least might be the foundation for sound policies.

Read on.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Obama’s pick of Israel critic Freeman for National Intelligence Council deserves our protest: Please write to the President now!
Dear Friend of FLAME:

I write to you urgently, because the cause of Israel needs your help now---to protest a major government appointment that can only harm the cause of Zionism. First the background, then I urge you to write to President Obama protesting his action and demanding that he reverse it quickly.

Barack Obama needs the help of smart people to negotiate the myriad of huge economic, social, political and diplomatic challenges we face. While Obama has made some astute appointments, he’s also made some major blunders, like former Senator Tom Dashle (for HHS Secretary), New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg (for Secretary of Commerce)---both of whom dropped out of the running---and George Mitchell as Mid-East envoy, who currently holds that position. Mitchell, as you may recall from a previous Hotline, has questionable biases about the cause and cure of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Now enter Charles (“Chas”) W. Freeman, an unequivocally fierce critic of Israel, whom Obama has just appointed as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the agency that prepares national intelligence estimates for the President and the U.S. intelligence community.

Let me give you the quick bullets on Freeman, then please read the article below, by Gabriel Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at the Witherspoon Institute, who is an expert on national security:
1. Charles W. Freeman, a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, continues to be an advocate and apologist for Saudi Arabia and receives funding from the Saudi government.
2. Freeman is implacably hostile to Israel and supports the opinions of anti-Zionist academics Walt and Mearscheimer. He believes Israel is responsible for creating Palestinian terrorism and Arab hatred, and that Hamas is misunderstood and unfairly demonized.
3. On the massacre at Tiananmen Square, Freeman sides with the Chinese government.
4. The position to which Freeman is being appointed does not require Congressional approval.

If you agree that Chas Freeman should not be in charge of analyzing the Middle East (and the rest of the world) for the President, the CIA and the Congress, I urge you to write President Obama or call the White House today at 202-456-1111 and demand Freeman’s dismissal. This will take only a few seconds, and if thousands of us write and call, our actions could cause the administration to reverse the appointment. A groundswell of opposition to this disastrous appointment has already begun---let’s add our voices.

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Director, FLAME

P.S. If Chas Freeman’s close association and friendship with Saudi Arabia doesn’t alarm you, please review the FLAME position paper---“The Saudis: Are they our friends . . . or our enemies?”---on the FLAME website. One of our classic editorials, this piece has run many times in national media and has reached tens of millions of Americans, as well as U.S. Senators and Representatives

Anonymous said...

The Saudis
Are they our friends . . . or our enemies?




For decades the U.S. has considered Saudi Arabia our friend — and an important source of oil. But now, because fifteen of nineteen of the September 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens, because Saudi schools and newspapers teach anti-American and anti-Semitic hatred, and because Saudi Arabia refuses to cooperate with U.S. efforts to stop terrorism, many are asking whether this "friendship" still makes sense.


What are the facts?

Militant Islam thrives in Saudi Arabia. Not only were most of the 9/11 terrorists Saudis, but some 80% of the prisoners held at Guantánamo are Saudis, Osama bin Laden is a Saudi, and recent evidence proves that Saudi Arabia has been a principal supporter both of al Qaeda and of Palestinian suicide bombers.

But these obvious connections to terrorism are just the beginning. The Saudis actively support more than 30,000 Wahhabi religious schools and mosques in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Western Europe and the United States. Wahhabism calls for the destruction of the United States and Israel and Western values, replacing them with totalitarian Islamist regimes and fundamentalist societies, similar to the one created by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Despite friendly-sounding rhetoric from its leaders, the Saudi government refuses to assist the U.S. capture Islamic terrorists. In 1996, the Saudis refused a U.S. request that they seize Osama bin Laden. In 1995, they refused to hand over Imad Mughniyah, the likely perpetrator of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon. After 9/11, the Saudis opposed the U.S. attack on the Taliban and have failed to crack down on their own al Qaeda supporters. No wonder the Saudi-supported press regularly praises terrorist actions against the U.S. and Israel, or that secret documents found recently prove that the Saudi government gives money to terrorist organizations and bestows handsome cash rewards on the families of suicide bombers in Israel.

It’s also no wonder that a much-publicized report to a Pentagon advisory board recently concluded that "the Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers." The report labeled the kingdom "the most dangerous opponent of American interests in the Middle East."

Saudi Arabia rejects important basic human freedoms. Saudi Arabia is run by a totalitarian regime — the oil-rich House of Saud, a tyranny of princes and royal cousins. None of the basic freedoms held sacred by Western democracies — the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, rights for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, religious tolerance — is tolerated by the Saudis. Indeed, Saudi culture is barbarically restrictive: Women may not drive and are treated as chattel by their husbands and by the regime; the press is ruthlessly censored; and public executions and dismemberments are still practiced. During the Gulf War, President Bush was prevented by the Saudi government from conducting a religious service on a U.S. military base on Saudi soil. U.S. servicewomen in Saudi Arabia must wear veils in public. Saudi men routinely abduct their U.S. citizen children, forcefully convert them to Islam and, if girls, press them into marriages – often polygamous ones.

The myth of our dependence on Saudi oil. Saudi oil policy has always been openly self-serving—the Saudis have threatened or implemented at least three oil embargoes over recent decades, including one in 1973-74 that triggered a deep economic crisis in the U.S. In reality, they have sold us oil when it served their financial and political purposes.

While at one time the U.S. relied heavily on the free flow of Saudi oil — since as much as 25% of the world’s supply may lie within its boundaries — things have changed. Russia and Mexico have become reliable suppliers, and vast new oil fields around the Caspian Sea are coming on line. New energy technologies are reducing our dependence on oil in general. Finally, most analysts agree that the Saudis need the U.S. as their customer much more than we need them as a supplier. The Saudis are not likely to cut us off, and if they do, we can obtain plentiful oil from other sources.

Given its totalitarian policies, its open support of terrorism, and the anti-American, anti-Israel vitriol spewing daily from its state-sponsored press and religious institutions, the U.S. must reconsider its relationship with Saudi Arabia. It’s time to acknowledge that the Saudis are effectively waging a war against us — that they are behaving like enemies. Fortunately, Saudi Arabia’s reduced importance as a supplier to the U.S. now allows us to make decisions based on human rights and our greater strategic interests, rather than solely on our energy needs. Just as a change in regime in Iraq would benefit the U.S. and the world, so would a change in the feudal regime in Saudi Arabia — the ousting of the royal ruling class. Above all, we should encourage our government to confront the hypocritical and dictatorial Saudi rulers. In addition, if we can find Saudis of valor and vision, we should encourage them to lead their country to democracy. In the meantime, we must consider Saudi Arabia our enemy and consider this reality in our global fight against terrorism.

big em said...

Excellent article Mr. Parry -- as you so succinctly state, it's up to the our intelligence agencies to gather info and analyze it with the fewest filters possible before feeding it to the policy makers and leaders. For intelligence workers to do otherwise makes them into defacto policy makers.

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Great piece. The consolation is that fewer and fewer people read the Washington Post, particularly its mediocre oped pages, and the New Republic appears to be running on its own toxic fumes.
Keep it up!

Mark E. Smith said...

ROFL!

Yeah, the neo-cons sure don't want reality to impinge on foreign policy.

Why that could lead to, horror of all horrors, rational decisions!

Anonymous said...

Once again, Robert, you hit the ball out of the park. Nice work!
Let's not forget the communication structure and its techniques that allowed the Neocons (radical conservatives) to become such a powerful voice and influence even though so few in number. Major TV news department help the Neocons a lot; so it is important to know about their methods. The major TV news networks keep ratings high by using many techniques; however, the top three in importance are not readily apparent to viewing audiences. First, network news analysts must make their corporate executives happy along with all subsidiaries and stockholders. Accordingly, they take direction from supervisors who not only dictate what is reported and how but also edit what goes out on nightly broadcasts. Since most of the ownership is staunchly conservative Republican in philosophy and part of the Wall Street corporate world, Republican presidents fair well and Democrats in the White House catch hell from the get go. Second, these networks and their news departments get rich by defending the status quo within the Belt Way, demanding that everyone play by the old rules that govern political dynamics and dialog or suffer the negative consequences. Anyone who is serious about changing Washington is in for some serious hard knocks via bad press. Third, the networks interject themselves into power and become powerful by making the powerful cow tow to their every whim. They do this in several ways. Newscasters depict themselves as experts in the know, so high above the public that the electorate is made to feel helpless - - who can fight city hall? That is why when Obama came along with the slogan, "Yes we can," both the networks and members of the House and Senate went on the defensive. Both entities have spent millions of man hours and dollars "putting the public where they belong - - frustrated, helpless and apathetic." Consequently, network programming and reporting cannibalize, nitpick and negate (CNN, get it?) politicians who do not play by their rules and policies or that offend the network owners and their corporate buddies. How can we stop this game that trivializes both politics and the electorate? I sincerely believe the answer is that we must hit the networks in the pocketbook by not watching and by letting their sponsors know why we stopped viewing. Otherwise, things will never change in Washington.

Nat Parry said...

In Chait’s neocon critique, "realism" is not simply a hard assessment of what today's challenges are; it is an "ideology"

Well, in political theory, "realism" is considered a philosophy if not an ideology. Political realism, in the context of international relations, embraces the belief that states are primarily motivated by the desire for military and economic power or security, rather than ideals or ethics. This is what it means to be a "realist", at least in the context of IR and political theory.

I don't know if it is accurate to apply this label to Freeman, but I am pretty sure that even if it is, this is not what the neocons object to in his pick. Freeman has criticized Israel, and has even dared to suggest that Americans should ask ourselves how our own actions may have led to the tragedy of 9/11. "And what of America’s lack of introspection about September 11?" he asked following the attacks. "Instead of asking what might have caused the attack, or questioning the propriety of the national response to it, there is an ugly mood of chauvinism. Before Americans call on others to examine themselves, we should examine ourselves," he said.

I believe that these sorts of statements are what has led the right-wing to oppose him so vehemently, not his alleged views on IR theory.

Mark E. Smith said...

I guess you're correct, Nat, as right-wing political theory doesn't recognize the existence of socialist states, other than as threats to the security of fascist states.

Because fascist states are motivated primarily by the desire for military and economic power, they consider socialist states that are motivated by the desire to ensure the well-being of their citizens, a danger to the "security" of fascist military-industrial empires.

Neoliberal (fascist) totalitarians (we call them neocons) abhor anyone who dares to question the legitimacy of our genocide-for-profit economy--in fact they abhor anyone who dares to question authority.

To be motivated primarily by the desire for economic and military power, is to be motivated by the desire for unlimited growth--the medical diagnostic criterion of malignancy. Eventually, all cancers, when permitted to run their course, run out of healthy organisms to consume and perish. The only question is if our material culture will somehow perish before it has completely destroyed the planet, or if we are doomed.

Any realistic assessment of our chances, given that the planet is more than 90% wracked with the cancer of exploitation and consumption, constitutes a threat to patriarchal ideology which is based on the beliefs that the world was given to us to destroy as we wish, that we are the owners and rightful rulers of the world rather than a part of the world, that the Creator of the world will reward us (in some afterlife) for having destroyed it, and that heretics who question these beliefs are terrorists.

frthdmnsion said...

Dmocrats statistically are made up of the stupidist and most irrational group in our country women blacks and aliens and hispanics.Thats why more white males are statistically republicans.Democrats think they are visionary's but arn't smart enough to know that they are simply pawns of the communists and muslims.Democrats are appeassers and for all the stated reasons are pro death even though they are convinced they are pro life!Poltical correctness started in Russia to defeat the west and if any of you are ignorant of this fact ask me to explain it and I will dispell your ignoranceDont let your all liberal self righteouse attitude keep you from finding out the truth,because in reality a liberal can do nothing effectively!Except be a traitor!

Mark E. Smith said...

@frthdmnsion:

Larry Summers, is that you?

Welcome to Consortiumblog and thank you for choosing a login that indicates how far from the reality-based community you are.

We understand that being a privileged white male makes you feel very insecure, and that if you only had a brain you might be fit to join the human race.

Other than demonstrating your sexism, racism, and that you're still living in the McCarthy era, do you have any comments to make that are pertinent to the topic, or are ad hominem attacks the extent of your repertoire?

Anonymous said...

Chas Freeman: It's not over yet
By Lawrence W. White, FLAME Hotline, March 11, 2009

Charles Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is the diplomat chosen several weeks ago by the administration to chair the National Intelligence Council.

Problems immediately arose. Freeman was in the paid service of Saudi Arabia, had repeatedly blasted Israel, had defended China including its actions in the Tiananmen Square massacre, and had numerous conflicts of interest. Prior to the appointment he had not been fully vetted, and any examination of his finances had not occurred. As a result, the selection became controversial as soon as Freeman's name became public.

As a result of these issues, opposition to his nomination arose among several members of Congress, as well as parts of the media and ordinary citizens. This led to his withdrawing his nomination after several weeks of controversy. Whether he withdrew or was pushed is not clear at this time.

Opposition to Freeman was initially attributed to his many statements blaming Israel for the current crisis and absence of peace in the Middle East. However, what led to his demise were not primarily considerations related to Israel but rather the exposure of Freeman's many statements apologizing for Saudi and Chinese behavior as well as a whole panoply of foreign policy conflicts.

These included his 12-year chairmanship of the Middle East Policy Council which was a Saudi-funded front group, and his chairmanship of Projects International, a group that represented U.S. business interests in Saudi Arabia and China. Freeman fully supported the repressive government of China. He criticized a Tibet protest against China as a "race riot", and stated that China should have intervened earlier in the Tiananmen Square protests. But the major feature of his support for China was his paid role on the board of a Chinese government-owned oil company that had dealings in Iran. This same Chinese oil company also purchased oil from Sudan while its leaders were overseeing genocide in Darfur. There were no objections from Freeman about any of this

Following the withdrawal, a collective sigh of relief was uttered by those who opposed him. However, it is not yet time to uncork the champagne. For those of us in opposition, we should not expect this problem to disappear. The fact that a group of citizens along with members of Congress mobilized to put pressure on the administration to halt the nomination clearly represents an age-old use of the democratic right to petition government. However, it also opens the door to new charges of pressure from the Israel lobby.

We have heard this before, from Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt, and John Mearsheimer, from the likes of such hateful demagogues as Norman Finkelstein, and even from Jewish groups such as J Street, who falsely label themselves as pro-Israel. This time, joining the cries of criticism of the so-called "Israel lobby" are many new and surprising names, including Andrew Sullivan, and M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum.

Certain historical events become symbols. The USS Liberty tragic friendly fire incident in 1967 became the casus belli for the anti-Israel zealots and has been so for over 40 years. Now the Freeman case is about to become the poster child for those who preach against the "Israel lobby".

Freeman himself has initiated the process. In a note to Foreign Policy, ABC News has reported that Freeman attacked the Israel lobby, claiming that the destruction of his career "will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues."

Here are Freeman's words:

"The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."

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."

Now what is going on here? Congress, the media, good government organizations, and various special interest groups, have always evaluated candidates for high government office with great scrutiny. In this case as in others, the candidates own words were examined in full context. But as Jake Tapper of ABC News has pointed out, "only in Freeman's case does the nominee make an allegation that a foreign power was lurking nefariously somehow behind it all."

For Freeman, this represents a different and more lucrative kind of career move than the one he had originally expected. He is now following in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter, Ramsey Clark, Charles Lindbergh, and others who have made a profitable career out of travelling the lecture circuit blaming Jews and peddling tales of conspiracy. This is what Richard Hofstadter labeled "the paranoid style in American politics", and it has great appeal for angry minds.

Most Jewish and pro-Israel organizations took no public stance on the nomination, and there was apparently little lobbying of Congress. Nonetheless, Freeman's son, Charles Freeman Jr., a former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs., referred to his father's critics as "Israel first-ers" and stated that his father's "appointment is being challenged these days by a small cabal of folks that believe first and foremost in the importance of allegiance to Israel as a core U.S. priority."

An irony in all this is that according to several members of Congress, the concerns about his anti-Israel positions did not and would not stop his official appointment to chair the NIC. Rather, it was Freeman's comments on China and Tibet, and his connections to the Chinese oil company, that finally did him in.

None of Freeman's critics claimed that he was not entitled to hold these opinions on Israel, China and the Middle East. Rather, they claimed he was not entitled to hold these judgments and allegiances and at the same time make official analyses and reach conclusions for the US government on critical intelligence matters.

This raises an age-old question for American Jews. Is it useful to try to prevent this sort of appointment, or will it, as M.J. Rosenberg claims, be dangerous in that it feeds resentment of Jews in official circles? We had a different experience during World War II, when the Roosevelt administration was supported by most of the Jewish community. Opposition to Roosevelt's policies regarding restrictions on intake of the doomed European Jews was virtually non-existent. At that time, the roles of Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt, and John Mearsheimer, were taken by Charles Lindberg, Henry Ford, and Father Coughlin.

In the 1930s and 1940s Jews were primarily motivated by the fear of creating an anti-Semitic backlash. The prevailing view of the Jewish community was to maintain a low profile and do nothing that might annoy the powers in Washington, (This is the position of M.J. Rosenberg today).

At present, the Jewish community can see the results of a more aggressive posture. We now know the benefits of publicly speaking out, of lobbying, and using our rights as citizens. All indications are that this is a far healthier stance. However, this behavior is about to be tested.