Saturday, March 07, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For


You might accuse me of splitting hairs in specifying that Chas Freeman is "not so much anti-Israel as pro-Saudi", but there are good reasons for recalibrating the focus on Freeman.

If Freeman is still a Saudi shill, if anything that means he will bring a stronger anti-Shiite than anti-Israel bias to his post. That's because, while ideologically the Saudis would love to see the Jewish state destroyed, practically they are terrified by the Shiite risorgimento we've created by bungling Iraq. (To be sure, they hate the Shiites ideologically too.) The Saudis know Israel doesn't pose a threat to them. Iran is a different matter.

The most recent milestone on the road leading to an American denouement with Iran due to its nuclear ambitions was the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. That document concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. National Intelligence Estimates are summary approximations of the opinions of all the US intelligence agencies on a security issue. They are released by the Director of National Intelligence, who is currently Dennis Blair. The chair of the National Intelligence Council oversees the process. Dennis Blair has picked Chas Freeman to chair the NIC.

If Freeman is in thrall to the Saudis, then he might feel compelled to do one of two things with respect to Iran. Out of anti-Israel animus, he might be inclined to underestimate Iranian nuclear prospects in a Lindberghian gesture to prevent our going to war with Iran on behalf of Israel. In fact, in remarks to the 14th Annual US-Arab Policymakers Conference, Freeman snarked:
Some of the same people who neoconned the United States into invading Iraq are now arguing for an attack on Iran as a means of ensuring that it does not eventually acquire nuclear weapons.

But because of the regional playing field, it's more likely that Freeman will be inclined to overestimate Iranian nuclear prospects, so as to leverage American power in favor of his Sunni paymasters.

This could contribute to a devastating outcome, one that again underscores the absurdity of the argument of anti-anti-Israel partisans that the Freeman pick spells an end to The Lobby's subordination of American interests.

It would also be brutally ironic for the liberals among these partisans who are clamoring in favor of Freeman. These same anti-warriors who found it so hard to believe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meant it when he called for Israel to be wiped off the map -- or that he even said it at all -- are now agitating for the appointment of an intelligence chief who might oppose Iran more than the Jewish state.

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