President Obama’s decision to nominate Charles Freeman as head of the National Intelligence Council is really interesting. Freeman is an experienced diplomat, a “realist” with particular experience in China and the Arab world. He is also willing to criticise Israel openly and is a brilliant, polemical writer – neither of which are qualities that usually mark you out for promotion in Washington.
Freeman has attacked Israel for its “efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful co-existence and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle.”
In 2006, he wrote a savage and rather brilliant attack on the neo-cons, which I quoted at the time. In the light of the current controversy about his appointment, it’s worth reading again: “It was before we panicked and decided to construct a national-security state that would protect us from the risks posed by foreign visitors or evil-minded Americans armed with toenail clippers or liquid cosmetics. It was before we decided that policy debate is unpatriotic and realized that the only thing foreigners understand is the use of force. It was before we replaced the dispassionate judgments of our intelligence community with the faith-based analyses of our political leaders. It was before we embraced the spin-driven strategies that have stranded our armed forces in Afghanistan, marched them off to die in the terrorist ambush of Iraq, and multiplied and united our Muslim enemies rather than diminishing and dividing them.”