Amazing Appointment — Chas Freeman as NIC Chairman

As first reported by Laura Rozen and subsequently confirmed by Chris Nelson, it appears that Chas Freeman has been appointed chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the body that is charged by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with synthesizing the analyses of the entire U.S. intelligence community and producing National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) — the most famous of which was the December 2007 NIE on Iran’s nuclear program that put paid to the hopes of hawks who favored a military action against Tehran — that are used to guide policymakers on critical issues facing U.S. security.

To me, this is a stunning appointment. There are very few former senior diplomats as experienced and geographically well-rounded (just look at this bio here), knowledgeable, entertaining (in a mordant sort of way), accessible (until now at least), and verbally artful as Freeman. He can speak with equal authority about the politics of the royal family in Saudi Arabia (where he was ambassador), the Chinese Communist Party — he served as Nixon’s primary interpreter during the ground-breaking 1972 visit and later deputy chief of mission of the Beijing embassy, and the prospects for and geo-strategic implications of fossil-fuel production and consumption over the next decade or so. But, more to the point, he was probably the most direct and outspoken — and caustic — critic of the conduct of Bush’s “global war on terror,” especially of the influence of the neo-conservatives — of any former senior member of the career foreign service. His appointment constitutes a nightmare, for the Israeli right and its U.S. supporters, in particular, (and for reflexive China-bashers, as well).

For a taste of both his rhetorical style and his politics, see, for example, this speech he gave to the U.S. Information Agency Alumni Association two years ago or, better yet, this one to the Pacific Council on International Policy in October 2007 in which he says:

“In retrospect, Al Qaeda has played us with the finesse of a matador exhausting a great bull by guiding it into unproductive lunges at the void behind his cape. By invading Iraq, we transformed an intervention in Afghanistan most Muslims had supported into what looks to them like a wider war against Islam. We destroyed the Iraqi state and catalyzed anarchy, sectarian violence, terrorism, and civil war in that country.

Meanwhile, 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 back Israel’s efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize ever more Arab land for its colonists. This has convinced most Palestinians that Israel cannot be appeased and is persuading increasing numbers of them that a two-state solution is infeasible. It threatens Israelis with an unwelcome choice between a democratic society and a Jewish identity for their state. Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience – of humiliation, dislocation, and death – to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel and the United States each have our reasons for what we are doing, but no amount of public diplomacy can persuade the victims of our policies that their suffering is justified, or spin away their anger, or assuage their desire for reprisal and revenge.”

He doesn’t pull punches.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

  • Steve Hogan

    It would have been more amazing had he been appointed Secretary of State. Just seeing AIPAC’s reaction would have been entertaining.

  • Eric

    OK, so here we go with another round of Obama whiplash: hooray – he defied Israel and did a really good thing! – and now he’ll turn around and do something completely contradictory that dashes all hope once again.

  • bilejones

    Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s a mistake that will soon be rectified. I bet AIPAC are poring over the list of all the Nanny’s he’s ever hired.

    • As resident cynic, I’ll go one better and suggest that it was AIPAC that actually recommended Freeman for the position, knowing full well in advance that he is the LAST person on earth they want to see in that job slot and with the full intention of “Borking” him and driving a public stake through his career. After all, while the Israeli puppeteers have to allow the occasional appearance of independence in the administrations of their American vassals (a la the Soviet “Republics” and “Bloc allies” of old), they also have to occasionally serve up a reminder of who’s REALLY in charge, not only to their power-elite stooge surrogates inside the I-495 Beltway, but to the Amoricon hoi polloi as well.

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  • AIPAC bribes scumbags in DC. Meanwhile, how much money are all of you giving to support this web site?

    • richard vajs

      Chris,
      I’ve been trying to donate some money all weekend – I get to the “Credit Card” part and everything stalls. Granted I live in “Hooterville” West Virginia and my modem has to communicate via old telegraph lines, but one would think that the donation collection would be as smooth as possible.
      As for AIPAC, don’t give them all the credit for this country’s idiotic Mid East policy – they have all kinds of non-Jewish morons (such as conservatives and evangelicals) believing that racist, land-stealing, Israel is somehow reflective of all that is good in this universe. It isn’t hard to convince lemmings to jump off the cliff.

  • I have read that the Israeli lobby is very, very, disturbed. Obama throws out a lot of contradiction. We will see where all this ends.

  • Dan Alba

    Thanks, Jim, for that refreshingly positive news. Here’s hoping Chas will stick to his principles.

  • You be stunned if you want, Jim; to me it’s just the usual ‘tough cop, con cop’ routine (as was the production of Obama himself, if you recall).

    • Thomas

      Keep up the good werk Jim……. It is a small hope at best, but…… we live in hope these days………….. I am beginning to HOPE……… that the “downturn” gets far worse and the dollar losses 99.9% of it’s value……. Too broke to “Rule the World”

      My hashish smuggling days in Afghanistan and familiarity with them led me to declare ON DAY ONE of the Russian invassion…… That the Russians would LOSE..and that was with their total control over their ECONOMY…..

      Unless you want opium or hashish, Afghanistan IS NOT worth fighting for…… Unless you have some dream of energy hegemony…….{Bush?, Chainey??]

      Muslims are NOT the enemy.. Injustice…occupation….apartheid..hegemony..embargo…

      the force of others [to comply] by the oppressor….and ESPECIALLY the INVADER….outsider…

      using force to control land and resources of the people who live there…that is the ENEMY!!

      • BB

        You sound exotic. I was there too, but for different purposes. Saw Bamiyan. Afghanistan not worth fighting for? From what I remember, Afghans, during the sixties, were bright, forward thinking and hopeful. At least in Kabul. What’s wrong with supporting that?

    • John C

      With the risk of sounding like an idiot, I’d say this is analogous to the appointment of the ostensible-free-market Greenspan to the Fed years back. It is not inconceivable that institutions that defy reality at times need individuals a firm intellectual grasp of it.

  • Eric

    My guess is that Israel will force him to cancel this, just as they forced the cancellation of the Zinni appointment.

    America is Israel’s slave, because we’re so well trained to be terrified of being called anti-Semitic.

    • Andy

      It’s partly that. Its also due to the money and influence the Jewish lobby has too. The general indifference of too many Americans is also a factor.

    • Vassili

      Once again, my belief for now is that Israel is UK/US project. The goal is World Domination. There is very strong evidence that Israel is subordinate to the US – for one citizens of Israel can’t travel visa free to the US. In no way “master” state can have this kind of relationship with its “slave”.

      • Andy

        Does Israel give the U.S. 3 billion dollars every year Vassili?

        • A. G. Phillbin

          Has it occurred to you that the $3 billion is how the US retains it’s ultimate mastery? Egypt gets $4 billion/year — does this make Egypt our master? Or are you one of those silly fools who also thinks we’re “dominated” by the UN? You keep thinking “tail wags dog,” but that’s the wrong analogy. The right analogy is an aggressive but not well trained pit bull that the owner occasionally has trouble pulling back, but still holds the leash. One Israeli military officer described this perfectly, saying that Israel is an American aircraft carrier with a crew of 5 million. Sorry, right wingers, but America really is an IMPERIALIST state. It is an empire because that is what it’s ruling elite wants it to be, and will remain so even if it decides to jettison Israel tomorrow. Sorry to bust your bubble, but ask a Nicaraguan or Salvadorean or Grenadian about America’s inherent virtue.

        • Andy

          My rebuttal;

          1) Egypt receives 2 billion a year in aid not 4 billion.

          2) This aid is closely tied to Israeli influence and is done to buy peace for the Jewish state. If Egypt was 5,000 miles away from Israel it wouldn’t get the money.

          3) I am not a “right-winger”, nor do I think most readers on this site are. I am actually a Libertarian.

          4) You are right about the USA being an imperialist state. This is largely due to the fact that the elites don’t bear the costs of empire. Public-choice theory is important in understanding WHY and HOW America has an empire.

        • Eric

          To A. G. Phillbin:

          If, in supporting Israel, the US were selfishly pursuing its own imperial interests, that would be bad enough. And yes, in many cases, the US does pursue its crass interests in a brutal, selfish, imperialistic manner, and that is to be deplored.

          But in the case of Israel, the situation is even worse. For when it comes to Israel, the US does evil violent things (and supports Israel in doing evil violent things) which are not only morally objectionable, but are also directly contrary to any material or objective US interest whatsoever. This is what makes US support of Israel so particularly infuriating to anyone who is (a) paying attention and (b) not blinded by Zionist dogma.

      • Eric

        And, Vassilli: have you noticed that Israel’s threats against Iran last summer drove gas prices suddenly up to $4 a gallon, precipitating and acutely worsening the economic meltdown of the US economy? How is it in the interest of the US to have such catastrophically hostile relations with the oil-producing countries? Very obviously, Israel forces the US to maintain a posture of enmity toward all the Arab and Muslim world. Please read the book, “The Israel Lobby”. The authors explain why the theory that the Iraq war was a “war for oil” is asinine. The Iraq war was for Israel, and goes exactly, perfectly, diametrically against the material interests – including the oil needs – of the USA.

        • Andy

          With a “friend” like Israel the United States doesn’t need any enemies. Just ask the guys on the Liberty. Israel is to America what Serbia was to Czarist Russia. We all know what happened to Czarist Russia, the Czar and his family.

        • Roslyn

          I am in agreement with Eric and Andy.

  • Both views are correct: the US is, and wants to remain, a global imperialist power, and attempts to use Israel as a cog in its global imperialist machinery; but at the same time, Israel, being, to be frank, run by people of higher average intelligence than the USA, manipulates the USA in a masterly manner, precisely by pretending to help it perfect its global imperialist strategy. This is not a type of relationship that came to birth only with zionism: before zionism was a physical actuality, the Jewish banking elite in Britain played a central role in organising and maintaining the British project of conquering South Africa. This is discussed with a frankness that might be deemed unusual today, in Hobson’s “Imperialism” (1902).

  • Roslyn

    Thanks for all this info. I do not think that the Israelis are more intelligent than the citizens of the USA, just more malicious, racist, and determinesd for to further the long held plans for zionist domination of the world.

    I am not sure what to make of the Freeman appointment. Very interesting.

  • Roslyn, I did not say that ‘the Israelis’ in general were more intelligent than ‘the citizens of the USA’. I said that Israel was run by people of higher average intelligence than the USA is.

  • Roslyn

    How do you know that to be true, Rowan?

  • Here the circular nature of my argument becomes clear: I know it because they run rings around you, year in, year out.

  • I see what you’re saying, though, Roslyn: you’re saying, this isn’t ‘intelligence’, it’s “malice, racism, and determination to further plans for domination”. I am not sure that the US ruling class is deficient in any of these vices, though, is it?

  • D. Focs

    This website reminds me of my growing up in a communist country in Eastern Europe.
    Everybody mouthing the same propaganda.
    The fact is Israel is a democracy, while none of the arab countries are (with the hopeful exception of Iraq).
    Most Israelis have lived in the Middle East /North Africa for ever.As second class citizens to their Arab masters (since the advent of Islam).
    There are more arabs in Israel than jews in the entire Arab world.
    The fact is that the moslem religion as it is taught in the arab countries (and in many cases in U.S. as well)urges moslems to hate non-believers (read their school books).
    Osama never mentioned ‘Palestine’ until recently. His war has always been against non-moslems living in moslem countries.

    • James

      I couldn’t agree with you more D. Focs. The main problem for our friends (if they really thought hard about it) is that Israel exists at all. The idea that Israel is responsible for all the instability in the Middle East is a sham, perpetrated by authoritarian Arab and Iranian governments to avert their own people’s eyes from failure to provide freedom and economic opportunitiy. Our friends on this site are unwitting victims of this propaganda.

  • what’s a ‘democracy’?

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  • This appointment of Mr Freeman as National Coordinator of Intelligence is just what I feared when Barack Obama was elected: New, more competent officials to run the military, police and intelligence machines.

    For my entire adult life the USA have intervened literally countless times in the internal affairs of dozens of nations. Usually having the short-term effect of making these target nations safe for our corporate exploiters. Unfortunately the long term effects have been to spread full-spectrum disorder and unsustainable political and economic structures across the whole world.

    In many ways the present and accelerating economic meltdown is the most perfected example yet of this blowback.

    If we are to remain an highly-militarized nationalist and police state, as we are now, I want it run by fools and incompetents. Not by persons able to procure for some little while longer opportunities for its violence and the glutting of the greed of its real owners.

    I was born a citizen of the Great Republic, when Roosevelt was its President, but that nation is dead these many years. Now it is we who are the evil empire.

    Chris Herz
    cdherz44@yahoo.com

  • May R.

    Eric,

    When you ever had a bad cold, developed athletes foot, tripped climbing or descending steps or slid on a slippery surface, did you realize that Israel was at fault? Those are among the very few painful events for which you haven’t blamed Israel.

    Read “D.Focs'” comment. You and your fellow myopic (maybe not yet blind) mice might learn something. Take a look in a mirror and you’ll see the image of your far righters who hold Israel and Jews to blame for every evil afflicting our world.

    How many citizens in Arab countries are able to publicly take issue with their governments as those on the Israeli left and right can? Do you believe than an Arab (or Iranian) Amira Hass would be able to express herself similarly in her country?

    Gain a less skewed perspective and your arguments just might be more persuasive.

  • I Love America

    We give Israel $8 billion/yr in weapons, aid and loan guarantees. These charities that help Israelis, not Americans are tax free and should be investigated.

    Why do we give Israel Billions in taxpayer money when our states and cities are crumbling? Why do racist colonists who hate us get free homes, health care and education paid for by the US taxpayer when our children do not get the same?

    Something is seriously wrong. Freeman is honest and a great pick, so was mitchell. Steve Rosen and AIPAC and the like call anyone who isn’t ardently a zionist anti-semetic so if you stick to the facts you fall into this category.

    Steve Rosen was indicted for SPYING ON AMERICA FOR ISRAEL!!! So who is this guy to criticize our policy? he’ll sell out America in a heartbeat and his loyalties only go so far as our tax dollars to his beloved welfare state Israel.

    Israel runs the largest spying operation in America, they have a history of trading our secrets (see traitor jonathan cokehead pollard) and it’s clear us ‘goyim’ are the dumb meatheads who do whatever Israel says.

    Time to change direction and realize that our ‘best friend’ has been poisoning us slowly all while telling us they are our ‘best friend’ . Sickening.

  • Do you believe than an Arab (or Iranian) Amira Hass would be able to express herself similarly in her country?

    — no. I do not believe that an Arab Amira Hass would be able to express herself in Israel.

  • BAE

    Hmm….

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