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Juan Cole: In Defense of Chas Freeman; Why we Need Clear-Eyed NIEs

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laststeamtrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 10:01 AM
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Juan Cole: In Defense of Chas Freeman; Why we Need Clear-Eyed NIEs
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 10:03 AM by laststeamtrain
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Walt: In Defense of Chas Freeman
Why we Need Clear-Eyed NIEs

Harvard political scientist Stephen Walt, who blogs for Foreign Policy takes on the critics of Chas Freeman's possible appointment as chair of the National Intelligence Council, and critics of Walt for defending him.

Freeman is a man of enormous diplomatic experience, both a China expert and a Middle East hand, and is the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He is also a clear-sighted analyst who is not afraid to say that the US mission in Afghanistan has become quixotic, and that Israel's expansionist policies are bad for all concerned, including the US. As soon as his appointment was bruited, the well-connected coterie of right-Zionist pundits went after him, and it is pretty obvious that he was being smeared and punished for having dared publicly criticize Israel, which the Revisionists have tried for years to make a hanging offense.

Walt pointed out that these pundits were just deploying ad hominems and that for them it is all about Israel, and then they accused him of being hysterical, paranoid, etc.

What Walt is too polite to say is that these guys are just ultra-nationalist bullyboys. A bully is a bully, it doesn't matter whether a Zimbabwe nationalist or a Zionist, and it doesn't matter whether it is John Hagee or Jonathan Chait. In accordance with the principle that you learned most things worth knowing in kindergarten, here is what one author says about school bullying;


The ultra-nationalist bullyboys set up Campus Watch to intimidate university administrations and to cow vulnerable assistant professors, which they have been doing with the utmost viciousness. They also bully congress, threatening to fund their rivals if they step out of line and decline to give Israel more cluster bombs to drop on innocent civilians. Most American Jews are social liberals and voted for Obama. They were the group, along with African-Americans, most likely to oppose the Iraq War in 2003. But the far-right Zionists among them have the big megaphones. Most major metropolitan newspapers have an ultra-nationalist Zionist columnist. Why? They are like 10 percent of the American Jewish community, which is 2 percent of the American population. But they aren't correct in their analyses. They aren't good writers. They don't represent any significant population. They are just ultra-nationalists. And their main activity is to try to smear and intimidate people.

A military strategist once said that in order to dominate a population, you must put out its eyes. That is, you have to shut up the people who can see what is really going on. The ultra-nationalist bullyboys are trying to shut up Freeman and Walt, with character assassination and ad hominems and, in Freeman's case, blackballing. They have gotten away with this shameful behavior for so long, despite the enormous harm it has wrought to the United States, that one hesitates to short them. They may well succeed in derailing Freeman's appointment. But remember, these same pundits kept quoting to us the completely flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was just wrong. Freeman would be in charge of the writing of NIEs, and the ultra-nationalist pundits are afraid that he will get in the way of their plans for mayhem. If people don't stand up for Freeman, it is hard to see how they can escape some of the blame when things go pear-shaped because of future bad National Intelligence Estimates.

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 10:10 AM
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1. Well said Mr Cole. nt
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laststeamtrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:10 PM
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2. Was Jeffrey Goldberg 'idealistic' in moving to Israel and serving in its army?
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 02:11 PM by laststeamtrain
Was Jeffrey Goldberg 'idealistic' in moving to Israel and serving in its army?
Philip Weiss

A good rock has been turned over in the Chas Freeman controversy. On Foreign Policy's website, one of Freeman's defenders, Stephen Walt, cracked about one of Freeman's pursuers, Jeffrey Goldberg, that his idea of public service was moving to Israel and serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Jacob Heilbrunn, biographer of the neocons, leapt to Goldberg's defense at the National Interest site, saying that this was "idealistic" of Goldberg.

A lot of us went overseas pursuing our ideals. I did, ended up in the Third World. Goldberg was pursuing Zionist ideals. I don't have his book in front of me, Prisoners, but in it Goldberg said that after graduating from Penn in 1981 or so, he came to feel that the Diaspora was the "disease" of Jewish life, and that Israel was the "cure." So he moved to Israel and joined the army. Norman Finkelstein and the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs have said that Goldberg served in a notorious prison where Palestinians were tortured.

The Zionist ideal is based on the claim that the west is unsafe for Jews and that Israel is the homeland of the Jews. But these aren't American ideals. We believe that minorities are not discriminated against, and should not be. Between my parents' generation and mine, America began living up to its promise. In fact, Goldberg's understanding of antisemitism is close to my parents': it's all around us.

Rahm Emanuel and Jeffrey Goldberg, who are extolled in the Jewish community, both felt that they should serve Israel. The Supreme Court has said that American citizens can go serve in other armies (Emanuel was a civilian volunteer wearing an Israeli uniform during the Gulf War), but does that mean that those Atlantic-Ocean-jumpers should be taken seriously on American foreign policy? When Israel's supporters say that Israel's war is our war, a misconception that helped drive the Iraq war, I bet Emanuel and Goldberg both come down on the wrong side of the statement.

I understand why Zionist ideals became ideals--I'm at my parents' house, hearing their stories, andnot going to discount my parents' real experience-- but those ideas should be junked now in light of real and large conditions: the incredible Jewish experience in America and the incredible human rights abuses in Israel. Also Walt has touched on the issue of military service. How many of the Iraq war supporters--and Goldberg was one, serving up fantasies about Saddam's chemical threat--have served in the American army? And per Tom Ricks, how many of the elite's children are in the service, pulling 3 and 4 year tours in the greatest mistake of American foreign policy, a mistake fed by a deluded identification with Israel...
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