Attention all those folks who voted for Obama not only because he promised America vital change, but because he swore to sustain foreign policy support for America's long standing democratic allies - notably the State of Israel.
Take a close look at who's just been appointed Chairman of his National Intelligence Council, the inner group that produces vital intelligence estimates for the President, his administration as well as the overall intelligence community. I'm talking of none other than Charles "Chas" Freeman, the former U.S, diplomat and pro-Arab lobbyist who is openly and loudly hostile to the Jewish state of Israel, is a defender of Chinese oppression, and hardly the man one might think Obama's supporters would like buzzing in the presidential ear.
A bosom pal of a long list of Arab kings, princes and other oil millionaires, Freeman was U.S. Ambassador to the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. More to the point, since 1997 he has been president of the Middle East Policy Council, the Arab world lobbying group that used to be called the "American Arab Affairs Council". Not surprisingly, the MEPC owes it very healthy endowment to those internationally renowned lovers of peace, civil rights and democratic process, the Saudi Royal Family.
Freeman's lack of enthusiasm for democracy is not limited to the Middle East. Without a sign of shame, he has steadfastly defended China's brutality towards those brave enough to fight for Chinese freedom of political thought. Indeed, the only criticism Freeman had of the Chinese government for its bloody 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square was the timing! In a 2006 posting on ChinaSec, a confidential internet discussion group of China specialists, recently reprinted in The Wall Street Journal, Freeman wrote: "The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud."
Moreover he declared, "the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tiananmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." As if that wasn't enough, Mr. Freeman continued, "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, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be."
Still it's the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict where I'm convinced Freeman can do the most damage. Consider this assessment by Freeman before the Arab-American Affairs Council in 2006: "[Israel's] inability to find peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs in the driving factor in the region's radicalization and anti-Americanism. Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly it has shown no talent for peace."
No mention of Islamic extremism's rejection of American political values , no mention of Arab failure to accept a Jewish state, .
Or how about this insightful Freeman view in 2007 remarks to the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles: "We embraced Israel's enemies as our own; they responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies. We abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize more Arab land for its colonists. Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience - of humiliation, dislocation and death to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Didn't the President just announce he was upping our military presence in Afghanistan?
Freeman has also taken up the cause of legitimizing the Hamas terrorists - even at the expense of the already legitimate Palestinian government. Or take the example of Freeman's MEPC council publication Middle East Policy. It is consistently anti-Israel. In its fall 2008 issue, editor, Anne Joyce even perpetuated the anti-Semitic smear that the Iraq war was waged by neo-cons on behalf of Israel
These are hardly views that will encourage Arab states to show true willingness for peace with the Jewish state and are certainly not views that will reassure the Israel to take the chances we keep urging them to take.
From a strictly ethical point of view it seems totally out of order. As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Monthly says it is obviously inappropriate to hire "a well known advocate for the interests of Middle Eastern autocracies to produce national intelligence assessments for the Obama administration."
There are those like New York's Senator Chuck Schumer who are already openly urging the president to change his mind and reverse Freeman's appointment. I hope many of Obama's million's of fans will do the same. It won't be the first time Obama has had to shift appointment gears - but embarassing as that may be, it may be one of the most important shifts our new president can make if he sincerely wants intelligence assessments that are objective and will help him, Israel and the Arabs in the ongoing struggle for a just Mideast peace.