A flurry of reports over the weekend said that the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, considered a sharp critic of Israel, is to be named to a top intelligence post in the administration of President Barack Obama.
Chas W. Freeman Jr., who was U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 1989-1992, is set to be named chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which has a strong influence on the content of the intelligence briefings presented to the President (and puts together the National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, which in 2007 dissuaded the Bush regime from attacking Iran). The Council chairman is also often called on to give direct briefings to the President.
Typical of Freeman's viewpoints is a statement he made in a speech before the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs in 2007, in which he more or less blames international terrorist acts on Israel. "American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs.
For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel’s American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation – whatever form it takes – will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture."
Freeman also is a strong advocate of talking to Hamas, which he calls "is the only democratically elected government in the Arab world." In his speech, Freeman said that "Hamas is showing that if we offer it nothing but unreasoning hostility and condemnation, it will only stiffen its position and seek allies among our enemies. In both cases, we forfeit our influence for no gain." Israel must be pressured to accept the American point of view, which does not coincide with Israel's. "We must talk with all parties, whatever we think of them or their means of struggle. Refusal to reason with those whose actions threaten injury to oneself, one's friends, and one's interests is foolish, feckless, and self-defeating. That is why we it is past time for an active and honest discussion with both Israel and the government Palestinians have elected, which – in an irony that escapes few abroad – is the only democratically elected government in the Arab world."
Read it all here.