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Gene Bird

The scurrilous campaign against the leading American diplomat on China and the Middle East, leading to the voluntary withdrawal of his name, may have been a blunder of strategic proportions for Israel and her lobby in the United States. 

We have been witnessing the awesome exchanges between supporters for Ambassador Chas Freeman and AIPAC legmen for the past few days. Our judgment is that the great American desire to be fair and morally balanced is winning out as usual. 

All across the country David Broder's  article  is saying, "Blair [Director of National Intelligence] said that the White House told him that if he wanted Freeman, he'd have to fight for him himself. When I asked the White House on Tuesday if Obama supported Freeman, a National Security Council spokesman said he would check, but he never got back to me. Freeman vanished without a squawk from Obama." 

We at the Council for the National Interest predict that there will be a long and continuing backlash by the American, as well as European, Chinese and Arabian Intelligence Services over this incident.  The question is can American Intelligence estimates on Israel and her neighbors ever be trusted again?  The Freeman incident is far worse than the incident involving Valerie Plame and her husband Ambassador Joe Wilson in the run up to the Iraq war in 2003. We know now that Israeli intelligence in all probability worked with Italian intelligence to mislead America, the world and Secretary Colin Powell regarding yellow cake uranium from Niger. 

 The Freeman incident will have a much broader effect than how America went to war on behalf of Israel in Iraq with no exit strategy and little thought to the consequences.  How can the Obama intelligence estimates so far as the Middle East is concerned, ever be trusted?

Harvard Professor Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby wrote about the Freeman incident this week in Foreign Policy, "It is one thing to pander to various special interest groups while you're running for office -- everyone expects that sort of thing -- but it's another thing to let a group of bullies push you around in the first fifty days of your administration."
                                                                                                                                                                        Ambassador Freeman himself, has cited Shelly's Prometheus Unbound:  
                                                                                                                                                                                              "To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
                                                   To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
                                                   To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
                                                   To love and bear; to hope till Hope creates
                                                   From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
                                                   Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
                                                   This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
                                                   Good, great and joyous, beautiful, and free;
                                                   This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory."

 Israel and her lobby may have won a pyrrhic victory but the real loser is America, Israel and final Middle East peace process that we all so desperately need.  This is not the end of this incident. It uncovered the deep fissures in American Middle East policymaking. 


Gene Bird
President, Council for the National Interest
                                                                                  

P.S. A related matter is the obvious defeat the Israel lobby took on the three amendments, SA 629,  SA 630 and SA 631 by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) regarding Gaza and Egypt.
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