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01 March 2009


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David Habakkuk


I don't think that your suggestion that Israeli may benefit from the appointment of Charles Freeman is outrageous at all. It seems to me simple common sense.

None of Israel's options is easy, to put it mildly: they never have been. But the attempt to maintain control over the West Bank and Gaza really is -- to be blunt -- suicidal. For one thing, there are the very clear demographic trends: the higher Palestinian birthrate, as compared with the Jewish one, and of ultra-Orthodox Jews as against the Jewish population as a whole, together with the increasing propensity to emigrate, particularly among the educated elites on whom Israel depends.

The final Middle East Policy Council Forum Ambassador Freeman chaired was entitled 'Can The Two-State Solution be Salvaged?' It was I think clear from his comments that he fears that it cannot, and that, as he put it, the one-state solution 'may in fact be the very painful outcome, which is no longer impossible to imagine.'

(See http://www.mepc.org/forums_chcs/55.asp.)

The only thing which might conceivably avert this 'painful outcome' would be serious pressure on Israel from the American government. It is people like Charles Freeman who might conceivably save Israel from itself -- people like Jon Chait who are allowing it, indeed encouraging it, to destroy itself.


Stephen Walt on his Foreign Policy blog has this to say on the matter:

"...attacking Freeman is intended to deter other people in the foreign policy community from speaking out on these matters. Freeman might be too smart, too senior, and too well-qualified to stop, but there are plenty of younger people eager to rise in the foreign policy establishment and they need to be reminded that their careers could be jeopardized be if they followed in Freeman’s footsteps and said what they thought. Raising a stink about Freeman reminds others that it pays to back Israel to the hilt, or at least remain silent, even when it is pursuing policies -- like building settlements on the West Bank -- that are not in America's national interest.

If the issue didn't have such harmful consequences for the United States, the ironies of this situation would be funny. A group of amateur strategists who loudly supported the invasion of Iraq are now questioning the strategic judgment of a man who knew that war would be a catastrophic blunder. A long-time lobbyist for Israel who is now under indictment for espionage is trying to convince us that Freeman -- a true patriot -- is a bad appointment for an intelligence position. A journalist (Jeffrey Goldberg) whose idea of "public service" was to enlist in the Israeli army is challenging the credentials of a man who devoted decades of his life to service in the U.S. government. Now that's chutzpah."

Agog has this to say on the matter: shun media sources that give platforms to the likes of those Walt skewers so deftly. Consider it a first, small step in a boycott, divest and sanction campaign along the lines of the one that finally ended apartheid in South Africa.


Colonel -

The only evidence that I have or need is the testimony of my Uncle Dinty. He was my grandmother's little brother, a mustard-gassed veteran of the Great War, and a proud member of the Bonus March. He was present at both the Mall and at Anacostia.

I remember as a boy hanging around the local VFW Post while Mom and Grandma and the other ladies of the VFW Auxiliary cooked Saturday afternoon dinner. Dinty and his doughboy buddies used to curse MacArthur.

I realize that old stories tend to grow as time passes. However, Wiki claims that four were killed and over a thousand injured. Are they wrong?

I also think that MacArthur's direct disobedience of Hoover's order to stop the assault was a clue to his later actions in Korea.

Patrick Lang

All - "The Bonus Army?" Let's get a little perspective.


To see the Bonus' Army's defiance of the federal government as an exercize in free speech is a bit much.

The principle that a government can not let its capital be occupied by insurgents is rather old. Check out the "Nika Riots"

MacArthur was what he was. He was indifferent to human suffering but an extremely effective senior commander. He was also a very effective civilian governor. Modern Japan is a monument to his efforts. 100,000 Filipinos died during the Battle of Manila but I never met a Filipino of the war generation who did not think MacArthur was a great man.

Personally, I detest him, his style and his pretensions. pl



MO: My experience is when negotiating with those from ME cultures, that is, recently from those cultures, the western concepts, if they are that of "Win/Win" or giving ground for the sake of an agreement is absent. It is as though the negotiators honor is at stake and a Pyrrhic victory is more valuable than a profitable defeat. I don't know why.

As for the Jewish lawyer bit, I was not drawing any generalizations other than to say a middle easterner Arab's position translated through his American Jewish lawyer is a bit - well confusing. Hard to tell where the cultural breakdown arises, it may well be on my side.


Perhaps I am off base here but it seems to me that a NIE should be done by those that can compartmentalize their own emotions, ie: a realist. Wouldn't an NIE be similar if done by an ally or foe not withstanding that the use to which information in the NIE is put would be very different.



I have long thought it odd that Beijing allowed the protesters to occupy and prevent normal govt. functioning for weeks. It's a pretty safe bet that if protesters tried to shut down D.C. using commandeered busses to block traffic that its duration would be measured in minutes or hours, not days or weeks.

This in no way excuses the brutal actions Beijing eventually took.

I'm a capitalist and strong supporter of the First Amendment.

The idea Chas is a Marxist is the most singularly ludicrous thing i've read today.

dilbert dogbert

"I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government..."
Does he means also those dissidents who are elected?
That can happen. 1932 anyone?
Damn words they can be twisted and bent into impossible configurations.
Be careful with words they are dangerous.


If you read the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, the attacks are coming from everywhere on Mr. Freeman.

Let's see how long he lasts...

Hillary has gone on the record with positions on Syria, Iran, and Hamas that only Dennis "The Menace" Ross could have whispered into her ear.

Plus, we now have this stupid let's make a deal on Iran nonsense with Russia.

At least we can now see who winning the internal debate in this administration.

Tomorrow Hillary will crack under Bibi's assault, like everyone else...

Babak Makkinejad


You wrote, about negogiating with people from ME, that "... It is as though the negotiators honor is at stake."

This is what I had tried to artticulate on a past thread; that in the Middle Eastern culture an individual strives to protect his social position not by the pursuit of money but by the pursuit of honor & obligations.

That is why Obama's approach to Iran will fail, just like all previous ones.

Babak Makkinejad


I think the Chinese leaders were scared when workers started joining the students.

Potentially, the protests at the Gate of Heavenly Peace would have had more far reaching consequences for the Chinese people than the May 4-th Movement. Who know, perhaps it would have brought the rule of law to that unfortunate country after 5 millenia of lawlessness.


Judge a man by his "enemies" as well as his friends. Chiat has been a neocon attack dog sending up "dog whistles" for the AIPAC-types to "release the hounds." If Chiat is snarling and barking at Freeman, I take that as a good sign that Freeman is barking up the right tree on US foreign policy.

Thanks for this piece. I'll end my dog metaphors now.

Cold War Zoomie

Wow. I've been reading the opposition to Freeman.

Personally, I don't know enough about the guy to say he's the best man for the job. But none of the hit pieces have convinced me otherwise. It's all just inflammatory hysterics. One big hissy-fit.

Right now, seems to be isolated to inside-the-beltway chatter. But how long before the MSM picks up this "controversy?"


Colonel -

I respect your opinion that Ambassador Freeman is a man of intellect and integrity. We certainly need someone who can present an unbiased view to the National Command Authorities. And if the neocons are against him, then I am for him. I wish him well.

However, we will have to agree to disagree on MacArthur. He was never an effective commander. His reputation was based on family, on PR, and on politics. But we can debate that another time.


Babak: I believe that you are correct, but that position is often misconstrued here. As an example, in one particularly difficult negotiation the other side simply would not agree to anything, and appeared to be shifting positions constantly. Ultimately, it was not the issues actually in dispute but the fact that even favorable terms would look like they had been forced upon him. I knew this fellow for a long time and ultimately told him that we would go home for the day and asked him to write a settlement he thought should be accepted, and because we trusted him we would accept it, provided he gave us his word that it was the fairest deal he could consent to.

We settled the next morning on terms that were remarkably fair and frankly more favorable to my side than I would have had the courage to ask for. At the time we all agreed that he was a "control freak."

So what approach should Obama take? My thought is that we need a gesture, an unequivocal expression of respect for the Iranian culture, at which point all doors will open.


It's not over it would seem ...

Babak Makkinejad


I believe the Cold War between US & Iran has to be terminated before any substantive issues between the 2 countries can be discussed. [The settlement of most of these issues will take years, in my opinion.]

Grand Bargain, Incrementalism, sports/Hollywood diplomacy are not useful approaches.

I would like to point out to the Algiers Agreement between Iran and US that established the US-Iran Claims Tribunal which has been successfully working to adjudicate the legal cases between the two states for the last 30 years. Perhaps something like that can be attempted.


You appear to be attempting to raise substance over form.

There are very few among Americans or probably Iranians who are even aware of the Algiers Agreement.

This does not seem to be a rational dispute. It would seem to be be mutually beneficial for both parties to bury the hatchet? The reason they don't seems to be more Hollywood than it is Foggy Bottom. A Hollywood prblem calls for a Hollywood response.

My knowledge of Iran is limited yet it appears that their goal of international legitimacy is reasonable, they hold a crucial position in the ME as a relatively stable non-Arab Muslim nation state,they have demonstrably valid grievances towards us, and they probably hold the keys to a successful resolution of Afghanistan and Iraq.

We may spend the next ten years looking for the elusive Iranian "moderate"
or we can create moderates through grand gestures of respect that cost us nothing.

Babak Makkinejad


What grand gesture do you have in mind? Please be specific and try to put some bracket around the delivery time [of the benefits] of this gesture.


the drama


Freeman has been an outspoken critic both of the Bush administration's "global war on terror" and of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories. In a 2007 speech, he denounced US support for "Israel's efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations [and] seize ever more Arab land for its colonists", and warned that Israel would soon face "an unwelcome choice between a democratic society and a Jewish identity for their state”.

The campaign against Freeman began shortly after rumors of his appointment surfaced two weeks ago. It was initially confined to neo-conservative media organs such as the Weekly Standard and Commentary magazines, as well as liberal but hawkishly pro-Israel figures such as Martin Peretz, editor of The New Republic.

Steve Rosen, a former staffer at the powerful America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who is now facing trial for passing classified information to the Israeli government, played a leading role in denouncing Freeman's appointment, accusing him of "old-line Arabism" and of having "an extremely close relationship" with Saudi Arabia.

Although the coalition of media figures lining up against Freeman - such as Rosen, Peretz, The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb and The New Republic's James Kirchick - are known primarily as vociferous defenders of Israel, they have focused most of their fire on his ties to Saudi Arabia, pointing in particular to a US$1 million donation made by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to the Middle East Policy Council, a think-tank headed by Freeman, as evidence that he was a "puppet" of Riyadh.


Is Mr. Freeman about to be thrown under the bus? I don't see any push-back from the administration to the neocon hit job.


Some, like Stephen Walt, argue the Lobby is out in full force to make a statement on Freeman's appointment. The message is: "sure, he may have already been appointed because of his impressive credentials, but the rest of you better watch out. Dissent will not be tolerated."

Paul Woodward sums it up neatly: http://warincontext.org/2009/03/05/editorial-will-obama-capitulate-to-the-israel-lobby/

Col Lang, you are quoted in this IPS report, FYI:

William R. Cumming

I am confused. One of the reasons I think Richard Perle now states on the record that such a creature as a "Neo-Con" does not exist is that he knows how corrupt that group of cats was on manipulating intel. Theoretically at least a realist works to find out the facts and understand their implications. But in the intelligence role/capacity I always thought capabilities was the key and not motivation or intentions since even good intel personnel cannot see into the minds of the possible enemy. So PL you state on the record he is smart and what we need! Dennis Blair says the number one threat to the US is the dissolution of the world economy. So what intel is needed NOW for the US to survive this decade and this century as a democracy (Republic) and as a key player on the world stage allowing its interests to be followed without "Blowback"? I accept your analysis that he is a seer in the right place and right time! Let us hope so.



There are rumors that some Dem members of Congress are now 'complaining' about the Freeman appointment, these same Dem members are the same 'lobby poodles' that are sooo familiar to tow the Israel lobby line anytime the lobby heads say 'jump'. These same 'lobby poodles' need to register themselves as agents for a foreign government, alas sadly DOJ will do nothing regarding their 'foreign agent' activities.



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