International,  Israel/Palestine

Chas Freeman: The New Hero of the Resistance

This is a guest post by Ben Cohen of Z Word

Yet more evidence of the overlap, when it comes to Israel, between the unreconstructed left and America-first realists comes in the shape of this piece by Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation.

Dreyfuss is overjoyed by the appointment of Chas Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, despite the objections of the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and other inhabitants of what Dreyfuss calls “Planet Perle.”

Who is Freeman? What has he done to deserve such adulation? Is he a fiery liberal, determined to speak truth to power in the murky corridors of international relations?

Nope. Freeman was George H.W. Bush’s Ambassador to that beacon of enlightenment in the Middle East otherwise known as Saudi Arabia. More recently, he’s served as President of the Middle East Policy Council (MPEC), a Washington-DC based institute which has enjoyed generous Saudi funding.

The composition of MPEC’s National Advisory Committee makes for fascinating reading. There’s Marc Ellis, an anti-Zionist Jewish academic with a penchant for authoring lines like, “to speak of the Holocaust without confessing our sins towards the Palestinian people and seeking a real justice with them is a hypocrisy that debases us as Jews.” There’s Richard Falk, the Counterpunch contributor and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories who believes that there’s something amiss with the 9/11 “narrative”. These two, along with several other journalists and scholars with broadly left credentials, sit happily alongside a Senior Director of the Petroleum Finance Company (which advertises its “special understanding of the impact of US foreign policy on energy issues”), a former Chief Executive of the Bahrain Petroleum Company and a former director of Aramco, the Saudi state-owned oil company.

It should come as no surprise that Freeman is a stalwart defender of Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of “The Israel Lobby.” Their thesis that Israel’s advocates in America are powerful enough to cajole the US into acting against its own national interest has been aggressively pushed by MPEC. Boasted Freeman: “No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it.”

There it is again: that line about controlling the discourse. And now the man who uttered it will be in charge of producing the US National Intelligence Estimate.

Might Freeman nonetheless be capable of being the dispassionate analyst so sorely needed in the wake of the recent, bitter debates about politicized intelligence? Perhaps – though Jeffrey Goldberg may well be right that we shouldn’t get our hopes up. Unless we write for The Nation, of course.