An op-ed in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal criticizes Obama’s choice of Amb. Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council because Freeman has “distincitive political views and affiliations, some of which are more than eyebrow-raising.” One of these is his presidency of the Middle East Policy Council, which the op-ed calls “an influential Washington mouthpiece for Saudi Arabia,” were Freeman was ambassador. One of MPEC’s most egregious faults was to publish “an ‘unabridged’ version of ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’ by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt.” Of course the article by these well-respected professors has been published by others, such as the New York Review of Books, and expanded into a critically acclaimed book. The op-ed continues, emphasizing its core point, “Mr. Freeman has views about Middle East policy that differ rather sharply from those held by supporters of the state of Israel.”
Amb. Freeman was DCM (#2) at the Embassy in Bangkok while I was there. He had zero interest in my job as embassy systems manager (head of IT), but he was completely professional and certainly not a bigot. His main qualification for the NIC job is no doubt his service as Ambassador to China, which is developing into our most important bilateral relationship. His service as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, one of our most important oil suppliers, is also a good reason to name him. I have no doubt that he will be even handed and fair in all of his dealings with Israel, which may be the reason for the WSJ attack on him. The article by Mearsheimer and Walt points out how Israel is accustomed to preferential, not even-handed, treatment.
Hooray for Obama for pursuing honesty and integrity in intelligence analysis. Maybe if we had had more of that under Bush, we wouldn’t have gotten all the hyped-up intelligence claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It was certainly in Israel’s interest to have us invade Iraq, at least that’s what Israel thought then. In fact, the US invasion of Iraq has probably unexpectedly strengthened Iran to Israel’s detriment.