Barack Obama gave a major speech on the Middle East on Thursday, May 19, and it is clear from the subsequent commentary that he impressed few people. The main reason for this is that he did not say much new or indicate that there would be any serious changes in US policy in the region. It was essentially more of the same with some tweaking here and there. Nevertheless, he did manage to anger some people. For example, Israel’s hard-line supporters were outraged that he said: “Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” For them, the 1967 borders are “Auschwitz borders” and thus can never serve as a basis for negotiations.
The U.S. should not enable Israel’s self-destructiveness
“I don’t believe that playing the role of enabler to an alcoholic is an act of kindness and I don’t believe playing the role of enabler to a country that is setting itself for catastrophe is responsible either. I think we have a very sad situation in this country in which any criticism of whatever it is that the current government of Israel is doing is immediately cited as evidence of anti-Israel bias or as evidence of antisemitism.” (Video: 21:46)
The U.S. is no longer qualified to mediate Mideast peace
“The United States essentially has disqualified itself as a mediator. I say that with great sadness because I believe on many occasions in the past we had opportunities to broker peace. I think there has been the implicit promise of peace on many occasions and we did not do that. We cannot play the role of mediator because of the political hammerlock that the right wing in Israel through its supporters here exercises in our politics. We’re simply biased. We’re not capable. If you doubt that read the so-called Palestine Papers and see what we were doing.” (Video 22:38)
‘No presidential appointment has brought more controversy than that of Charles “Chas” Freeman, whom Obama tapped to head the National Intelligence Council. Leading the charge against Freeman is Steven Rosen, a former director of AIPAC awaiting trial on espionage charges, who has a long history of attacking and undermining anybody he deems hostile to Israel’. Here is Max Blumenthal on the Israel Lobby’s first Obama-era attack.
Update: The lobby has triumphed again. Freeman failed the loyalty test, and has hence been thrown under the bus. Notorious Israel-firster Chuck Schumer is taking credit ; according to Greg Sargent it was Rahm Emanuel and Schumer working together, but of course they had the full force of the lobby behind them.
The assault on Charles “Chas” Freeman Jr., a former ambassador tapped to lead the National Intelligence Council, is the first blow in a battle over the Obama administration’s Middle East policy. Steven Rosen, a former director of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee due to stand trial this April for espionage for Israel, is the leader of the campaign against Freeman’s appointment. In his wake, a host of critics from the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg to the New Republic’s Marty Peretz have emerged to assail Freeman’s comments on Israeli policies and demand that Obama rescind the diplomat’s appointment. The campaign against Freeman spread to Congress, where a handful of representatives including the top recipient of AIPAC donations, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), called for an investigation of Freeman’s business ties to China and Saudi Arabia.
Rosen’s tactics follow a familiar pattern he has displayed throughout his career, in which he viciously undermined anyone in the foreign-policy community deemed insufficiently deferential to Israel—even his own boss.
In the lead up to the Iraq war had antiwar formations relied for their information on the work Robert Dreyfuss and Jim Lobe, instead of the silly Blood for Oil nonsense, I believe the war could have been prevented through well directed, strategic political action. Unfortunately, with a few honourable exceptions, the left remains crippled by its dogmas. I would therefore urge readers if they are serious about understanding Washington politics with a view to changing the status quo to rely on the priceless work of Dreyfuss, Lobe and Phil Weiss. Here is Dreyfuss, followed by Jim Lobe, on Chas Freeman’s appointment to the NIC.
A thunderous, coordinated assault against one of President Obama’s intelligence picks is now underway. It started in a few right-wing blogs, migrated to semi-official mouthpieces like the Jewish Telegraph Agency, and today it reached the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, in the form of the scurrilous piece by Gabriel Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at some outfit called “the Witherspoon Institute.”
The target is Charles (“Chas”) Freeman, the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, former top Defense Department official during the Reagan administration, and president of the Middle East Policy Council, whose wide-ranging experience stretches from the Middle East to China. Freeman is slated to become chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the arm of Admiral Dennis Blair’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The NIC is the body that includes a host of analysts called national intelligence officers who are responsible for culling intel from sixteen US agencies and compiling them into so-called National Intelligence Estimates. It’s a critical job, since NIE’s — often released in public versions — can have enormous political and policy impact. Cases in point: the infamous 2002 Iraq NIE on weapons of mass destruction and the 2007 NIE on Iran that revealed that Tehran had halted its work on nuclear weapons.