Sunday, March 01, 2009

Another disastrous Obama pick

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) is one of those lesser-known but critically important components of the White House whose influence over foreign policy is indisputable. They're the guys who produce the National Intelligence Estimates upon which the White House bases key decisions, you know, like whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction and we should kick his shit to the curb for having them. So a president's choice for who heads the NIC is pretty important, and is a reflection of the president's own leanings.

Which is why President Obama's choice of former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles "Chas" Freeman to head up the NIC is either (a) yet another sign of Obama's complete lack of executive experience or (b) a terrifying indicator of where Obama's foreign policy is headed.

Consider that Freeman, as president of the Middle East Policy Council, acknowledged gratefully the generosity of Saudia Arabia's King Abdullah in funding the MEPC:
As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."
And just what does the MEPC do? Among other things, they dictate to American high school teachers what to teach their students about Arab culture and Islam:
What does the Middle East Policy Council do? We do three things. We raise politically incorrect questions for public discussion. We tend to be well ahead of the curve on raising issues. We publish views that don't find a voice elsewhere in Middle East policy, the most often-cited journal in the field. And an edited transcript of this session will appear as the lead item in the next issue of Middle East policy.

And finally, invisible in Washington, but perhaps most significantly, we train high school teachers throughout the country - trained about 18,000 - how to teach about Arab civilization and Islam.
Freeman's thoughts on Israel are predictable given his benefactors: rereading one of Freeman's more vituperatively anti-Israel speeches last night, I became stuck on this line: "Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace."
More startling to me, though, is a statement he made about China's repression of dissent at Tiananmen Square:
On the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Mr. Freeman unabashedly sides with the Chinese government, a remarkable position for an appointee of an administration that has pledged to advance the cause of human rights. Mr. Freeman has been a participant in ChinaSec, a confidential Internet discussion group of China specialists. A copy of one of his postings was provided to me by a former member. "The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities," he wrote there in 2006, "was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud." Moreover, "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." Indeed, continued Mr. Freeman, "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."
This is truly a disaster in the making. Obama is going to make Jimmy Carter look like Ronald Reagan.

Michael Rubin
Jeffrey Goldberg
Gabriel Schoenfeld

Update: While most of the news media are ignoring this story, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are finally picking it up.

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