Chas Freeman and the imaginary Lobby
Memo to Post editorialists:
Please turn to page one
In the Washington Post for March 12, an editorial adamantly rejects as a crackpot "conspiracy theory" the allegation that the Israel Lobby was behind the attacks on Charles W. ("Chas") Freeman Jr.'s appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council. However, on the front page of the very same issue, an article by Walter Pincus cites the groups and individuals who successfully worked to prevent Freeman from taking the job – AIPAC spokesman Josh Block, former AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen (indicted for espionage on behalf of Israel), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Zionist Organization of America (harder-line than AIPAC), Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, and Jonathan Chait and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. Anyone with a functioning brain can see the pattern – it was a smear campaign orchestrated by the Israel Lobby.
The Post editorial throws up various smokescreens for the benefit of the very ignorant – or the very cautious who need to be fed various falsehoods to somehow justify their failure to note the obvious activity of the Lobby. For example, the editorial maintains that "the American Israel Public Affairs Committee says that it took no formal position on Mr. Freeman's appointment and undertook no lobbying against him. If there was a campaign, its leaders didn't bother to contact the Post editorial board." Presumably the Post's editorial-board members require direct, personal evidence before admitting that anything exists and do not actually read the news in the media. The editorial board should read its own paper's front page and make a retraction, but I seriously doubt that will occur.
The editorial expresses great concern that Freeman "headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group" and "served on the advisory board of a state-owned Chinese oil company," and wonders "whether such an actor was the right person to oversee the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates." Goodness me, we certainly can't have a man with ties to a foreign country involved in American foreign policy. We need some 100 percent pro-American figure with absolutely no possible connection to a foreign state, such as Doug Feith, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Dennis Ross, or Rahm Emanuel.
Obviously, there can be a dangerous Saudi lobby or China lobby, but there cannot possibly be an Israel Lobby, dangerous or otherwise. The Israel Lobbyists, especially accused Israeli espionage agent Steve Rosen, really deserve a chutzpah award for this bit of propaganda. Of course, respectable gentiles also deserve some appropriately named award for their absolute inability to mention the glaring and blaring truth.
The Post editorial's smokescreen continues with the spurious argument that since the United States has not always done exactly what Israel desired, there must, ipso facto, be no pro-Israeli influence. For example, the United States refused to provide Israel with "weapons it might have used for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities; and [the United States would] adopt a policy of direct negotiations with a regime that denies the Holocaust and that promises to wipe Israel off the map. Two Israeli governments have been forced from office since the early 1990s after open clashes with Washington over matters such as settlement construction in the occupied territories."
Now, the absence of a policy that is 100 percent in line with the Israeli government's hardly demonstrates the absence of substantial Israeli influence. That is illustrated by Washington's provision of sophisticated weaponry (gratis) to Israel and its support in the UN for Israeli policies that violate international law (the "security wall" and the occupation), policies that are opposed by almost every other country in the world. There is no other country that gets as much support from the United States.
But sometimes Washington refrains from fulfilling Israeli interests if that would mean sacrificing important U.S. government interests. The United States does not want a war with Iran that could lead to a conflagration in the Middle East, which in turn could lead to a stoppage of the flow of Gulf oil, to the detriment of the world economy. The U.S. regime has rational state interests in meeting with Iran to bring about stability in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and it has failed to do so only because of the Israel Lobby. Washington certainly has an interest in stopping and eliminating Israeli settlements on occupied territory, which not only violate international law but also cause Islamic states and Muslims individually to oppose the United States. But while the United States has, at times, criticized Israeli settlements, it has not demanded that Israel pull out of the area or else face the termination of U.S. aid.
To repeat, the fact that Washington does not give Israel 100 percent of everything it would like does not negate the existence of very substantial U.S. support for Israel that is harmful to U.S. state interests and results from the efforts of the Israel Lobby. Moreover, those who criticize this overwhelming support for Israel are smeared and harmed in other ways, as illustrated by the snubbing of Jimmy Carter at the 2008 Democratic Convention.
(My book The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel, brings out the role of the most aggressive element of the Israel Lobby and shows how the traditional American foreign-policy establishment attempted to resist its efforts.)
I was surprised that the director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, had the courage to nominate Freeman. I would guess it signifies that a majority of the intelligence community not only recognizes Freeman's stellar ability but strongly dislikes the influence of the Israel Lobby. And the support for Freeman was not just covert. He won more public support than I would have expected. The Lobby did get its man, once again, but the level of support for Freeman reveals a roiling of strong opposition to the Lobby among elite opinion, which might boil over in the not-too-distant future.
Retired CIA officer Ray McGovern has written an excellent article for Antiwar.com that describes the Israel Lobby's involvement in the smear campaign against Freeman. On the surface, McGovern's take is a little different from mine. However, this might be a question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. McGovern focuses on the Lobby's success, and the defeat of the intelligence community and the spinelessness of Barack Obama. He writes: "The effect of the Freeman affair on the intelligence community is easy to predict. Those who were looking forward to a fearless integrity will be deeply disappointed. They may seek honest work elsewhere, if they perceive that Blair is only titular head of intelligence and that pro-Lobby political operatives like Emanuel are calling the shots."
In contrast, I would never expect "fearless integrity" from any significant number of U.S. government officials but rather would assume fearful dishonesty in the face of pro-Zionist intimidation and the possibility of a destroyed career. Moreover, I would not expect Obama to dare buck the Lobby. The Freeman affair, however, shows that the spirit of resistance to Israel Lobby domination still lives. While I assume that the Lobby will continue to get its way, its defeat – at least, its partial defeat – is still possible.