Now, I may be wrong. In which case, my credibility as an
"insider" will be shot. But I am not an
"insider" and my conclusion comes only from putting myself in
Barack Obama's shoes and realizing that Chas Freeman represents almost
nothing--forgive my pretension--that I do. And why
"almost"? Freeman actually represents nothing for which
the president stands.
My first objection is a professional matter. You see, Freeman has absolutely no experience in intelligence. Yes, you read me right. Still, he would be picking for the president's early morning reading what secret information and analysis he would see and what he would not.
From his diplomatic past, moreover, Freeman inherited the terrible habit of clientalism, a mixing of loyalty between the place to which he had been posted and the United States. This is not an unknown phenomenon. Lots of diplomats turn out to be ambassadors from the places to which they were posted. And maybe Freeman truly loved Saudi Arabia, its subtle variety of cultures and its spiritual freedoms. Did he miss seeing women on the street? I found this the most discordant part of my long-ago visit. Actually, if you visit the ARAMCO-owned and vaguely extra-territorial city of Dharan, you can see a woman's face (and also see women driving cars) plus legally drink from your host's tub "cousin of gin," as it is so coyly called. In any case, Freeman became one of Riyadh's high-paid flacks back home. And just as likely, he probably also adored China, finding in the communist dictatorship just the right amount of room for one of the most voracious capitalisms on earth. From People's China, he also received much more than a living wage. He seems to have a way with generous paymasters. That is, from People's China's exploitative investments elsewhere in the third world, particularly from as a board member of the China National Overseas Oil Corporation. Much of this is detailed in Eli Lake's comprehensive review of Freeman's sordid professional life.
I mentioned above my long-ago visit to Saudi Arabia. One of my companions reminded me a day ago that we had visited with Ambassador Freeman. Frankly, the first image that came to mind right then and there was his gluttonous face, smug and anxious at once. Some of the members of our group were actually experts on Saudi Arabia, and the rest of us had read up quite deeply on such scholarship as there was. Freeman took our inquiries as attacks with which he had no patience. Our hosts, mostly Saudi princes, actually better understood and appreciated what we asked and were interested in our actual experience in and impressions of the country. Not he. I had a certain sympathy for the Saudi monarchy, given the fact that it was matched against brutal "republican" tyrannies like Iraq and Syria. But the fact is that I never wrote about our visit because it had left me confused.
Although Freeman's appointment has been announced, it turns out that his vetting has not been completed. A usually reliable informant told me a few hours ago that Freeman had not taken--or perhaps merely not finished--his lie detector or polygraph. Moreover, there are more voices in Congress being raised against his designation to this pivotal position. Michael Goldfarb reports on his Thursday blog in the Weekly Standard, "Schumer's Call to Rahm," much other political and journalistic attention to the perhaps now-stymied intelligence posting.
The worst sign for Freeman is that virtually no one, even in the administration, has come to his defense. The rest of his protectors are the likes of Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Walt's words almost clinch the argument of the opposition. Or some Jewish lefties who never were exercised about China's brutality or Palestinian terror.