Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Freeman quits as nominee to NIC

According to this sign, you can buy stamps of Taiwan AND the ROC at this post office.

Politico reports:
The controversial appointee to chair President Barack Obama’s National Intelligence Council walked away from the job Tuesday as criticism on Capitol Hill escalated.

Charles W. Freeman Jr., the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, had been praised by allies and by the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, as a brilliant, iconoclastic analyst. Critics said he was too hard on Israel and too soft on China, and blasted him for taking funding from Saudi royals.

Freeman “requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed,” Blair’s office said in a statement. “Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.”

The withdrawal came after Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) grilled Blair at a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing Tuesday. Lieberman cited his “concern” about “statements that [Freeman] has made that appear either to be inclined to lean against Israel or too much in favor of China.”

In particular, Freeman has described “Israeli violence against Palestinians” as a key barrier to Mideast peace, and referred to violence in Tibet last year — widely seen in the U.S. as a revolt against Chinese occupation — as a “race riot.”
Lots could be added to this, like the fact that he thinks Taiwan independence is "whacko." Some of the stuff written about Freeman was just ridiculous, and it was surprising that anyone thought he was someone who "speaks truth to power." This will be good for Taiwan; Freeman was pro-China and pro-annexation.

More ominous was the way that the debate was controlled by the Israel debate. What should have been the priority, his strange views on, and closeness to, Chinese elites, simply served as ammunition for the splits over Israel. Pat Buchanan once wittily remarked that the White House was Israeli-occupied territory, but really, our whole foreign policy is dominated by debates over Israel, to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Very unhealthy.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan observed that this whole debate played out on the net, on blogs and news and discussion sites. The US MSM ignored it or was in the dark. Welcome to the brave new world of Web 2.0, folks. He notes:
There are a couple of things worth noting about this minor, yet major, Washington spat. The first is that the MSM has barely covered it as a news story, and the entire debate occurred in the blogosphere. I don't know why. But that would be a very useful line of inquiry for a media journalist.


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10 comments:

Taiwan Echo said...

Just spotted this today:

The Most Dishonest Freeman Defense

Looks like Freeman's defense can be categorized into at least 2 groups:

"less dishonest" and "most dishonest"...

cfimages said...

It seems that as soon as Israel comes into the mix in US politics, everything else gets forgotten. It's good that he's gone - here's hoping someone worthwhile will get a look in. Events in the ocean in the past few days should show them that they need someone who will stand up to China.

Readin said...

Pat Buchanan once wittily remarked that the White House was Israeli-occupied territory, but really, our whole foreign policy is dominated by debates over Israel, to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Very unhealthy.

It does seem that the Arab-Israeli conflict gets more US attention than it should. But it also gets the most press regardless of what the administration does. It always seems like one of the first foreign policy questions a presidential candidate gets asked is what he's going to do to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Perhaps we should consider that Israelis have similar values and democratic elections. They also have far more interest in peace than we do. Why don't we let them run the show on deciding how to find peace rather than trying to undercut their efforts so often?

Stephen said...

There is a great discussion on Fool's Mountain about Freeman
http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2009/03/07/chas-freemans-view-of-the-dominant-view-on-june-4th-in-china/
A controversial character indeed.
You really have to appreciate the rigor the US govt. and media apply to reviewing such appointments. What an incredible grilling.

Wulingren said...

Here's more from Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/10/chas-freeman-out-intel-ch_n_173645.html

I actually agree with what he says about the Israel lobby, at least in his comments that appear in the Huffington Post piece. Interesting that there is no mention of criticism of his China/Taiwan views or his past statements about Tiananmen.

george said...

you do get the feeling that if freeman had loved both israel and the PRC, he would have been confirmed. his disdain for israel scotched his nomination.

taiwan can breathe a sigh of relief. now to see who blair "turd in the punchbowl" names next

Michael Turton said...

Taiwan, that's the Weekly Standard. It's highly conservative and supports the Israeli Right.

This whole issue was decided on Israel, when China should have been the cockpit of discussion.

Michael

Readin said...

''There are a couple of things worth noting about this minor, yet major, Washington spat. The first is that the MSM has barely covered it as a news story, and the entire debate occurred in the blogosphere. I don't know why. But that would be a very useful line of inquiry for a media journalist.''

Um, typical mainstream new media giving a anti-Isreal appointment by a liberal president a pass?

B.BarNavi said...

"Why don't we let them run the show on deciding how to find peace rather than trying to undercut their efforts so often?"

You have GOT to be joking. Israel is currently run by a crowd that has no interest in peace except on its own terms. When Israel was run by sane (albeit corrupt to the bone) people, the U.S. was being totally unproductive. Now that wackos run the Knesset, we're supposed to stand back and let them call the shots?

Abe Bird said...

It is NOT Israel, it's the future of America integrity and well function regime!
Freeman not only has extremist views regarding the Middle East and China, but he has been beholden to lobby groups that are anxious to influence intelligent assessments regarding Saudi Arabia and China. Freeman bowed out when it became clear that his highly questionable financial ties to the Saudi and China lobby would be deeply probed by inspectors general, congressional staffers and the media. He couldn't handle the truth about his financial ties to these lobbies which do not serve the interests of the United States. The heavy thumbs of the powerful Saudi and Chinese lobbies would have subtly, and perhaps invisibly, weighed on Freeman's intelligence assessment.
The truth is that the Freeman appointment was bad for America, bad for peace in the Middle East, bad for human rights in China, bad for Tibet, bad for the environment, and bad for "policy-neutral intelligence." Those who challenged it performed a patriotic duty. They should be praised for helping the Obama administration avoid a serious blunder that threatened to compromise the president's ability to act in the interest of the United States on the basis of policy-neutral intelligence. All Americans owe them a debt of gratitude.