Melanie Phillips

21 March 2009

Team Obama thinks just like him

Published in: Jewish Chronicle

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Although Chas W Freeman is no longer to become chairman of America’s National Intelligence Council, the disturbing questions raised by his aborted appointment remain.

Freeman, a veteran Arabist who blamed 9/11 in part upon America’s policy towards Israel, was forced out through widespread concerns over his financial links to the Chinese and Saudi regimes and his apparent support for the repression of Chinese dissidents.

Ever since, he has been claiming that he was brought down by the 'Likud lobby' — 'unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country'.

In fact, although some Jewish activists did vigorously protest his appointment, they were outbid by the outrage in Congress — ranging from Republican Frank Wood to the liberal Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi — that he had supported the Chinese crackdown at Tiananmen Square and dismissed Tibetan protests against Chinese oppression as “a race riot”.

Freeman’s ravings about a Zionist conspiracy were not, however, the views of a solitary crackpot. They reflected the view of American academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that the “Israel lobby” has subverted US foreign policy.

The big question is how the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, could have appointed such a man — and what this tells us about President Obama’s attitude to the Middle East. To date, Obama has remained dismayingly silent about Freeman’s repugnant views.

The disturbing fact is that, stripped of Freeman’s rhetoric and associations, the worldview of Obama’s foreign policy team is not so very different from that of the dethroned NIC chairman-elect — including endorsement by some officials of the Mearsheimer/Walt Zionist conspiracy 'thesis'.

The prevailing view is that Israel’s behaviour is the root cause of the Islamist threat to America, and that a Palestinian state would help neutralise the Islamist venom.

Ignoring the grave risk that such a state would be an Islamist proxy for Iran and pose a mortal threat to Israel, the Obama administration intends to pressurise Israel to make yet further concessions. Hence the appointment of the appeasement-minded George Mitchell as Middle East envoy, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s bullish noises about achieving a two-state solution sooner rather than later.

Any Israeli resistance to such pressure is seen as an obstacle to peace. Hence the latest re-branding of the Jewish/Israel lobby as the ‘Likud lobby’.

Instead of regarding Israel as a key ally in the wider defence of America and the free world, the Obama administration views its desire to defend itself against its enemies as an infernal nuisance to be overcome.

If Freeman hadn’t been so openly compromised over his Chinese and Saudi connections, he would be in post today.

Freeman’s brief appointment underscores Israel’s new isolation from America, with hitherto unimaginable consequences for its ability to defeat the most lethal threat in its history.

*This is an expanded version of what was published in the Jewish Chronicle.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

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Melanie Phillips
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