Collateral Damage

At the end of this WaPo piece, readers might learn what the Chas Freeman issue was really all about:

Caroline Glick, a columnist in the Jerusalem Post specializing in national security issues, had a different take. She described what she called “disturbing things about the climate in Washington these days.” The foremost was that Blair’s choice of Freeman, despite what she said were the latter’s known “extreme views on Israel and American Jews,” may indicate something about the DNI. She said Blair’s testimony last week to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Iran’s nuclear program showed that “America’s top intelligence officer is willing to take Iran’s word on everything,” and, “On the other hand, he isn’t willing to take Israel’s word on anything.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Freeman exit, Andy McCarthy helped set the stage:

Great. But there remains the fact that the top intelligence official in the U.S., Dennis Blair, brought Freeman in, figuring he’d be a perfect fit to head the National Intelligence Council. Freeman is gone, but Blair will be with us for years to come. The problems with Freeman were far from hidden. What is it about Blair’s worldview that inspired him to think Freeman was a good choice to be shaping intelligence estimates and framing the information consumed by the president?

And showing his typical deft touch, here is Michael Goldfarb bringing it all home in his own subtle manner:

Blair has been badly damaged by his appointment and subsequent defense of Chas Freeman, both of which showed incredibly poor political judgment if nothing else. Now Blair is claiming that the Iranians aren’t actually working on building a bomb, in line with the “consensus view” of the 2007 NIE — the worst NIE since the 2002 NIE that said Saddam was sitting on a stockpile of biological and chemical weapons. If there is no intervention, Iran is likely to have a nuclear capacity before the end of Obama’s term. It will be a spectacular intelligence failure — on par with the missing Iraqi weapons of mass destruction — if Iran goes nuclear while the American IC is still insisting they have “not yet made the decision to do so.”

Freeman wasn’t the real target. Blair was and is, and I expect once intelligence estimates come out that upset the Weekly Standard and the ownership of the New Republic and others, the whisper campaigns will begin and we will “learn” how Dennis Blair secretly has had it in for Tibet for years. Why, insiders will tell us that he once was overheard saying “To hell with the Dalai Lama.”






48 replies
  1. 1

    Deeply disturbing stuff from Andrew McCarthy.

    And yet, the thought occurs to me: why the hell would I listen to anything Andrew McCarthy has to say?

  2. 2
    Libby says:

    These people give me a headache.

  3. 3
    Comrade Jake says:

    Why the hell is the US more pro-Israeli than even Israel? The fact that so many of these jokers are blind to how much trouble this position has gotten us into is mind-boggling.

  4. 4
    scruncher says:

    I don’t know if you read Joe KLein’s take at Swampland a few days ago, but his last line is something like their real target is Obama.

  5. 5
    robertdsc says:

    McCarthy and Goldfarb provide no evidence whatsoever that the Iranians are building a weapon. Handy.

  6. 6

    Again just a reminder that Chas Freeman will be on CNN in just a few minutes being interviewed by Fareed Zakaria. I think it will be a must see.

  7. 7
    molly Schiever says:

    Read Col. Lang from Thursday . . . http://turcopolier.typepad.com.....-next.html

  8. 8
    AhabTRuler says:

    Whenever I read depressing posts like this one, there is a little song I made up that runs through my head like a jingle:

    "I’ve said it before and
    I’ll say it again:
    We are really Fucked! "

  9. 9
    KCinDC says:

    So the idea is to set up an equivalence between believing Iraq had WMDs and believing Iran doesn’t have them? That’s a good trick if it works, and unfortunately with the media we have I won’t be that surprised. If McCain had won, we’d already be at war with Iran. I only hope Obama can resist the mounting insanity. The clamor for another war is only going to get louder.

  10. 10
    vishnu schizt says:

    Another war is exactly what we need! That’s how we got out of FDR’s depression. I’m sure Jonah Goldberg would sign is "sorry ass" up for that one huh? I feel a starburst coming on.

  11. 11
    wilfred says:

    Caroline Glick, a columnist in the Jerusalem Post specializing in national security issues,

    Uh-huh.

    I also want to thank my boss and colleague in Washington, Mr. Frank Gaffney, the President of the Center for Security Policy for being here tonight.
    Frank is a great American patriot and a great friend of the Jewish people in the tradition of George Washington and Orde Wingate and Lord Balfour.

    Frank Gaffney. Part of the process is holding up Glick as an impartial voice. What a fucking joke.

    Every day they drag us closer to attacking Iran and the civilizational war with all Muslims that they want so desperately.

    Cui bono?

  12. 12
    Miriam says:

    As a (non-self-hating) Jew this whole Freeman (and now Blair) thing makes me incredibly angry. There is more freedom of speech about Israel in Israel than there is in the United States.

    And for that matter, I was critical of the right-wing extremists in charge of the United States for the last eight years, why would it be anathema for me to be critical of the right-wing extremists in charge of Israel right now?

    This has really turned into a Mcarthy-ite witch hunt.

  13. 13

    […] After Chas Freeman bowed out of the NIC, I wondered how his opponents would fare with his superior, DNI Adm. Dennis Blair, who likely wasn’t too fond of the people who had forced out his guy. Well, it now appears they’ll be going after him as well. John Cole has the goods. […]

  14. 14
    John Cole says:

    What I don’t get is why don’t they understand they are HURTING Israel?

  15. 15
    KCinDC says:

    If we had a Republican president, even a simple delay in giving his DNI whatever people he wanted would be viewed as endangering the security of the United States, probably leading to the deaths of thousands. Actually causing one of his choices to withdraw would be treason tantamount to surrender to the Islamofascist menace.

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    I can’t remember where I read it this morning (sorry), but the argument is correct that the whole Freeman affair wasn’t really about Blair or Obama’s Israel policy.

    It’s a pre-emptive shot against [i.e., to prevent] Obama administration diplomacy with Iran and to a lesser extent Syria.

    Freeman and Blair would have been working on matters of intelligence analysis — i.e., that part of the establishment foreign policy game where they can choose to either present reasonable analysis or make an existential crisis out of an astounding lack of evidence.

    The Israel hawks are going to go as nutty as they gotta be in order to derail any sort of sane U.S.-Iran rapprochement.

    Don’t make any mistake, they will make the Freeman controversy seem what is was — just a warm-up.

  17. 17
    wilfred says:

    @John Cole:

    This has become a popular meme of late. How exactly are they doing this? if they are successful in fomenting a civilizational war between our country and the Muslim world they effectively tie our fate with Israel’s with no discernible gain for the United States. Thus Israel will survive as a Jewish State as long as the United States remains.

    So how exactly does that hurt Israel? Please don’t say an increase in anti-Semitism since the Israelis would gladly trade that for implicating the US in their own paranoid fantasies. Besides, what else would guarantee Jews moving to Israel other than anti-Semitism in the West.

  18. 18
    dslak says:

    What I don’t get is why don’t they understand they are HURTING Israel?

    Because, to them, politics is only about power, and the only power they are capable of recognizing is short-term and predicated entirely upon violence. This is also true of the remainder of the GOP.

  19. 19
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    There is more freedom of speech about Israel in Israel than there is in the United States.

    Yes, just read Haaretz daily and this become obvious.

  20. 20
    El Cid says:

    @John Cole: The Israel hawks do not care about "Israel" as you or I might conceive it — say, the safety, security, democracy, and societal development of Israeli Jewish and Arab civilians, alongside Palestinian civilians.

    "Israel" is to them a force of martial existence, a group of establishment allies in a region which allows them to plot and play out games of Arab and Muslim and brown people crushing.

    The actual Israeli civilians can go to hell, Israel as a nation can keep descending further into instability and put off dealing with the illegal occupation until the only choice left is chaos.

    They don’t give the slightest damn.

    It’s just like those people who care nothing for "America" and "Americans," generally hate everything noble America has ever managed to stand for (i.e., the Constitution and every amendment Bill of Rights save the 2nd), but like waving flags and screaming at others to leave or silence their dissent when it comes to bombing brown people. America can go to hell in a handbasket, or even lose the handbasket, but by god don’t you question their patriotic dedication to lying us into an exciting and expensive war.

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    Because the current status quo will not allow Israel to exist in 40-50 years simply from a demographics perspective. It is in Israel’s best interest to forge peace now.

  22. 22
    dslak says:

    What El Cid said. Also.

  23. 23
    wilfred says:

    @John Cole:

    You should take a look at Avigdor Lieberman’s proposals for de facto ethnic cleansing. Do you really think that they sit by idly and be swamped by Palestinians? Who would say anything?

  24. 24

    What I don’t get is why don’t they understand they are HURTING Israel?

    For the same reason you and your erstwhile allies didn’t realize that invading Iraq was hurting the United States; because the question of whether an armed conflict between Da Good Guyz and Da Muzzies is good for Da Good Guyz isn’t something you need to think about. It is, by definition, good for Da Good Guyz to engage in armed conflict with Da Muzzies.

    Remember?

  25. 25

    Freeman called out the "Likud Lobby". I think it was a pretty interesting interview by Fareed but I thought Freeman came off a little too mild mannered and he didn’t call people out specifically. Still its going to be hard for people to just dismiss hit charges that the "Likud Lobby" in his word has a "hammerlock" on public discussion and policy in this Country.

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    @sgwhiteinfla: Unfortunately, it was a long, long time ago when "Likud" could justifiably be used to refer to the right wing hawk brigades in and regarding Israel. It was Labor that expanded the settlements most significantly, and Kadima which leveled Gaza and attacked Lebanon.

    The right wing hawk approach is now firmly in power across the entire Israeli establishment, and it will remain stuck there for a while, to the great delight of their boosters here.

  27. 27
    Bill H says:

    I also want to thank my boss and colleague in Washington, Mr. Frank Gaffney, the President of the Center for Security Policy for being here tonight.
    Frank is a great American patriot and a great friend of the Jewish people in the tradition of George Washington and Orde Wingate and Lord Balfour.

    George Washington was a great friend of the Jewish people?

  28. 28
    LeaningTowardUndecided says:

    There are as many Jewish people living in the United States as live in Israel. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and safer for all involved to move all Israelis to the United States? We could stop worrying about the Iranian bomb, no endless huckstering for a two state solution, no more Secretaries of State publicly humiliated at shuttle diplomacy, Arabs would be nothing but appreciative and we could all stop pretending that the invisible God in the sky gives a shit one way or another about mid-East politics, let alone try to force him (her?) to declare what land was actually given to whom when. We could start a world wide pool on exactly how long it would take the Palestinians to turn Tel Aviv into a shit hole equal to the Gaza strip. With appropriate administration and marketing, this pool alone could pay the transportation and resettlement costs of the entire project.

  29. 29

    What I don’t get is why don’t they understand they are HURTING Israel?

    Well, I think you have to understand that this is actually a much bigger issue in the rest of the world than it is in Israel, where it’s actually something of a sideshow. You also have to remember that Israel isn’t actually concerned with a "peaceful solution," so much as they’re concerned with maintaining control of Golan and the nice parts of the West Bank.

  30. 30
    El Cid says:

    @LeaningTowardUndecided: What makes you think this is about the safety or well-being of Jewish or Palestinian people? Establishment foreign policy debates have many goals, but the safety and well-being of ordinary people aren’t among them.

  31. 31

    El Cid

    I agree with you but I think that the term "Likud" would be more recognizable by the American people as right wingers or NeoCon like than Labor or Kadima which in my mind made it a much better term to be used to link the NeoCon forces in this country that derailed his nomination. He also somewhat made Nancy Pelosi, who came out strongly because of his supposed views on China, look pretty stupid when he revealed that the statements he made were on what the prevailing theme in China was not his own analysis of the situation. Indeed I myself found the quote and a subsequent one that showed he wasn’t saying anything crazy with regards to the Tienamen Square situation. I really wanted him to hit back hard but I suspect that isn’t in his nature. Still he did land some pretty heavy punches and he damn near laughed in Chuck Schumer’s face. With the WaPo still reporting on it today there is the slimest of chances that this time there will be some actually investigation of the strength of these people behind the scenes in this country and how that influence is detrimental not only to the US but also to Israel ultimately.

  32. 32

    Could we please drop this "bad for Israel" meme? The only way this situation is bad for Israel is if you’re drastically misunderstanding Israeli goals and interests.

  33. 33
    El Cid says:

    @sgwhiteinfla: I get it, but the fact that it’s not accurate will cause problems to anyone who believes it’s a useful rhetorical trick. Yes, I know even up to Obama has used the "Likud" referent, but the problem comes with you’re dealing with Israel hawks who are convinced they are among the liberal wing, i.e., Labor backers or Kadima associates.

    On the China / Tiananmen motivation, you can always point out that whatever minor analysis Freeman made of the situation afterwards, Israel was before, during, and after the Tiananmen massacre the #1 seller of advanced (and often U.S.-winkingly-permitted) weaponry to that very same Chinese military which was shooting down dissidents.

  34. 34

    "Yes, I know even up to Obama has used the "Likud" referent, but the problem comes with you’re dealing with Israel hawks who are convinced they are among the liberal wing, i.e., Labor backers or Kadima associates."

    I can’t necessarily fault anyone for playing politics per se, but one thing that is rather bad about this rhetorical trick is that it allows Kadima and Labor to cynically play to Western misconceptions, as Barak did at Camp David and as Livni is doing now in trying to undermine Bibi.

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    @Brien Jackson: No, I’m not dropping that, because I think the evidence shows that the current establishment Israeli policy is, in fact, bad for ordinary Israelis, in the past, in the present, and in the future.

    It may not be bad for a great deal of the Israeli leadership, and a lot of Israelis might be cheering for those policies, just like a lot of people thought it was awesome when we were invading Iraq, but it doesn’t make any of it better.

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    @Brien Jackson: Excellent point — Israeli politicians too play off the ‘but we’re not Likud’ game in order to get more backing for similar policies.

  37. 37

    @El Cid:

    I think it’s important to remember that the Palestinian issue isn’t really very big from an Israeli perspective. It’s certainly not big enough to offset the benefits of regional hegemony they gain from maintainging control of the occupied territories (Gaza excepted). The prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon, however, is a real threat to Israeli domination of the region, which is why Israelis are much more focused on the Iranians than the Palestinians.

  38. 38
    geemoney says:

    What I really like is the "rating" of the NIEs by normal civilians.

    But I have a guy that tells me the 2003 is really rare, and likely to be a collector’s edition.

    Take that Action Comics!

    Serioulsly, it’s like me trying to make judgments about NASA’s mission planning.

  39. 39
    El Cid says:

    @Brien Jackson: Whether they recognize it or not, the failure to resolve the occupation is one central contributor to the region’s instability. Which is tied in to the Israeli-Iranian confrontation.

    Israelis may realize this again as the Gaza situation leads to increasing instability in Egypt — given that the Gaza situation is strengthening the hand of the Islamist movements within Egypt.

    But, sure, everyone will keep ignoring such things until they’re impossible to ignore any longer.

  40. 40

    I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but the question is not whether the situation produces some negative results, it’s whether it, on balance, creates a positive or negative outcome. And in this case, Israel has clearly decided that the instability and other general problems are outweighed by the benefit of controlling the Jordan’s headwaters. And that’s actuallya pretty rational gauging of the situation. And this is why any sort of satisfactory outcome is going to require US involvement to change the calculation, because absent that Israel has every incentive to maintain the status quo.

  41. 41
    bootlegger says:

    Good for Judea, bad for Judea, neither should factor into our national foreign policy. Period.

  42. 42
    El Cid says:

    @Brien Jackson: Yeah, I get what the Israeli establishment and much of the population has decided. I get that. I’m disagreeing with them, with their calculations. I’m saying they’re wrong.

    I think it was a bad idea, for example, for the U.S. to hire an army of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist drug dealing warlords to lure the Soviets into an Afghan war by attacking the Soviet-allied secular government; I think it didn’t prove to be in our interests. The fact that the entire establishment and much if not most of any Americans interested enough to discuss the matter would disagree doesn’t make me wrong, even though, yes, it may have hastened a Soviet collapse, nor does it make me unable to see what rational goals were being pursued in the mujahedeen war, or in overthrowing Mossadeq and backing the Shah, or backing Guatemalan and El Salvadoran death squads.

    These were all rational foreign policies. They served very clear policy goals. I think they were wrong and harmful.

  43. 43
    AhabTRuler says:

    These were all rational foreign policies. They served very clear policy goals. I think they were wrong and harmful.

    I agree. I would further that the examples provided are ones where long-term strategy was sacrificed for short-term success, which reminds me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on right now…..
    ….it’ll come to me.

  44. 44
    DougJ says:

    Jerusalem Post — notoriously anti-Semitic paper, FYI.

  45. 45

    Oh, for god’s sake. If these people make me defend Dennis Blair, I’m going to punch something.

  46. 46

    Frank is a great American patriot and a great friend of the Jewish people in the tradition of George Washington and Orde Wingate and Lord Balfour.

    Orde Wingate was a fucking nutcase. Probably clinically paranoid. He was a notorious backstabber of every superior officer who didn’t give him everything he wanted. The Chindits were a waste of resources. Wingate couldn’t get along with William Slim. Even Joseph Stillwell liked Slim.

  47. 47
    Mike D. says:

    I was making this point all over the place in various comments sections. Except I was kind of arguing the opposite: if it was about Freeman, then there is no reason it shouldn’t have been about Blair simultaneously. That almost no one was going after the DNI indicated that it was calibrated to be an unmistakable early message on Israel, but not to piss too many people off or do real damage early on. Whether they proceed on to Blair probably depends on events, I would hazard. They will if they have to, though. There will be a moment when Obama is forced to make a very tough choice on strikes, I think we all know that. I’d pray for him at that moment if I was a believer.

  48. 48
    liberal says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    And in this case, Israel has clearly decided that the instability and other general problems are outweighed by the benefit of controlling the Jordan’s headwaters. And that’s actuallya pretty rational gauging of the situation.

    If by rational, you mean in a purely economic sense, I doubt it—I can’t see how that water is worth what Israel pays extra for security as a result of all the instability.

    But I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] After Chas Freeman bowed out of the NIC, I wondered how his opponents would fare with his superior, DNI Adm. Dennis Blair, who likely wasn’t too fond of the people who had forced out his guy. Well, it now appears they’ll be going after him as well. John Cole has the goods. […]

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