February 26, 2009
Marty Peretz as a judge of character
The New Republic's Martin Peretz is disappointed in the man he backed for president:
Here is the most stunning prospective appointment of the Obama administration as yet. Not stunning as in "spectacular" or "distinguished" but stunning as in bigoted and completely out of synch with the deepest convictions of the American people. What's more, Charles "Chas" Freeman is a bought man, having been ambassador to Saudi Arabia and then having supped at its tables for almost two decades, supped quite literally, and supped also at home, courtesy of Prince Bandar, confidante of the Bushes who as everybody knows became extremely wealthy through the intimacy with the royal house, a story that has not been done adequately ever. [snip]Chas Freeman is actually a new psychological type for a Democratic administration. He has never displayed a liberal instinct and wants the United States to kow-tow to authoritarians and tyrants, in some measure just because they may seem able to keep the streets quiet. And frankly, Chas brings a bitter rancor to how he looks at Israel. No Arab country and no Arab movement--basically including Hezbollah and Hamas--poses a challenge to the kind of world order we Americans want to see. He is now very big on Hamas as the key to bringing peace to Gaza, when in fact it is the key to uproar and bloodletting, not just against Israel but against the Palestinian Authority that is the only group of Palestinians that has even given lip-service (and, to be fair, a bit more) to a settlement with Israel.
That Freeman would be chosen as the president's gatekeeper to national intelligence is an absurdity. It would be as if I were appointed the gatekeeper to that intelligence.
But Freeman's real offense (and the president's if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history, from the Pilgrim fathers through Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. And how has he offended this tradition? By publishing and peddling the unabridged John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with panegyric and hysteria. If Freeman believes that this book is the truth he can't be trusted by anyone, least of all Barack Obama. I can't believe that Obama wants to appoint someone who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some many of his supporters, me included.
Marty Peretz in January of last year reassuring supporters of Israel that Obama could be trusted:
Obama's points, which he has made many times, should reassure anyone who is concerned about what his presidency would mean for the security of Israel. And yet many are not reassured. They are alarmed by e-mails, saying that Obama's middle name is Hussein (true, and so what?), that he is a Muslim and not a Christian (untrue, and so what if it was?), that he took the oath of office as a Senator on the Koran rather than the Bible (utterly untrue and, once again, so what?). All these charges have been aired and negated often enough that anyone interested in hearing the truth about them has heard it. But another charge, circulating on the Internet, has not yet been sufficiently refuted. This is that he has advisers on the Middle East who despise Israel.Let's take one example. There are all kinds of spooky rumors that a man named Robert Malley is one of Obama's advisers, specifically his Middle East adviser. His name comes up mysteriously and intrusively on the web, like the ads for Viagra. Malley, who has written several deceitful articles in The New York Review of Books, is a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it. But Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama. Obama's Middle East adviser is Dan Shapiro. Malley did, though, work for Bill Clinton. He was deeply involved in the disastrous diplomacy of 2000. Obama at the time was in the Illinois State Senate. So, yes, this is a piece of experience that Obama lacks.
Time for a mea culpa yet?