The Appointment of Charles Freeman and the Coming War with Iran

When I was a child, we had in our living room a copy of Time magazine that came out just after JFK had been assassinated. It was the only article in the drawer of an end table, thus creating a kind of family shrine for the fallen president.

I sometimes wonder if the March 24, 2003 issue of The American Conservative doesn’t deserves the same kind of reverential treatment, for the cover story was Patrick J. Buchanan’s iconic jeremiad “Whose War?

In that story, he railed against a group of neoconservatives clamoring for a pre-planned attack on Iraq following 9/11. He minced no words in laying down his position: “We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars.”

Buchanan spelled out who would benefit from the second Iraq War:

Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam? Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud.

These words should be seared into the brains of all good Americans, for they explain many of the most important events of the first decade of this new millennium. Further, with but the change of one name—Sharon to Netanyahu—they may presage the unfolding of a new war even more destructive and disastrous than the Iraq War. And who better to sound the alarm about this looming danger than Mr. Buchanan himself.

Last week Buchanan explained this in a short column called Return of the War Party.

Real men go to Tehran!” brayed the neoconservatives, after the success of their propaganda campaign to have America march on Baghdad and into an unnecessary war that has forfeited all the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Now they are back, in pursuit of what has always been their great goal: an American war on Iran. It would be a mistake to believe they and their collaborators cannot succeed a second time.

It’s déjà vu all over again, and the well-oiled Israeli/neocon propaganda machine is in full throttle, just as it was in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

For Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s expected new Prime Minister,  Iran’s impending nuclear capability is nothing less than Armageddon: Iran “constitutes the gravest threat to our existence since the war of independence.”

Leon Panetta, the new CIA Director, is playing his role perfectly by reversing the previous National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. Panetta stated in his confirmation hearings that “From all the information I’ve seen, I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.”

Ominiously, AIPAC operative Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy was given the Iranian portfolio. (WINEP is an Israeli  think tank — sorry, pro-Israeli think tank — based in Washington, DC.) There is little doubt that Ross will pursue AIPAC’s war agenda with Iran.

And the arch-neocon Elliot Abrams chimes in by writing that the entire peace process in the Middle East should be put on hold until Iran is dealt with. Of course, this means that the settlements will continue to expand and Israeli brutality toward the Palestinians will continue unabated. It’s pretty obvious that Israel has zero interest in peace with the Palestinians.

Buchanan sums it up by noting:

The campaign to conflate Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria as a new axis of evil, a terrorist cartel led by Iranian mullahs hell-bent on building a nuclear bomb and using it on Israel and America, has begun. The full-page ads and syndicated columns calling on Obama to eradicate this mortal peril before it destroys us all cannot be far off.

As if on cue, stories about this new risk are popping up all around us:

  • Obama’s War Machine Needs $800 Billion For 2009: “Barack Obama’s election promise to bring ‘change’ to Washington and reverse the juggernaut of the Bush war machine has proven to be nothing more than a cruel hoax, emphasized by his recent actions on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and his latest demand for a total of around $800 billion in war funds and subsidiary costs just to cover the rest of 2009.”
  • Edwin Black: The Iran-Israel nuclear endgame is now much closer: ”In recent days, four key developments have clicked in to edge Iran and Israel much closer to a military denouement with profound consequences for American oil that the nation is not prepared to meet.”
  • Mullen: Iran has fissile materials for bomb: “The top U.S. military official [Admiral Mike Mullen] said … that Iran has sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, declaring it would be a ‘very, very bad outcome’ should Tehran move forward with a bomb.”
  • A Choice Between Peace and Peril: “Bibi Netanyahu’s assumption of power in Israel sets the stage for a huge campaign by the Israeli government, and its well-oiled lobby groups in Washington, to push us into a war with Iran.”
  • Israel lobbies for war on Iran: “Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he advocates a war on Iran, following the country’s successful test-runs at the Bushehr power plant.”
  • Clinton accuses Iran of seeking to intimidate: “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.”

Yes, the war drums are beating. Thankfully, The Liberty Hour Radio Show is around to rebut all of this with a well-informed conversation on the possible war with Iran between James Morris and Stephen Sniegoski.

Nevertheless, despite all the war mongering, there is one rather discordant fact — the appointment of Charles Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman seems an unlikely advocate for war with Iran given some of his  comments on the situation in the Middle East, including this one made in 2006:

For the past half decade, Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle. The suspension of the independent exercise of American judgment about what best serves our interests as well as those of Israelis and Arabs has caused the Arabs to lose confidence in the United States as a peace partner. … left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them, and enrage those who are not.

His appointment would seem to be akin to appointing John Mearsheimer or Stephen Walt to a high-level foreign policy position. Paul Craig Roberts sums up the situation with his usual candor and insight:

With Rahm Israel Emanuel, an Israeli dual citizen, in charge of the White House and Obama’s schedule, Obama will have an even less independent foreign policy in the Middle East than Bush. Somehow someone among the Obamacons managed to put forward an appointment that could challenge the Israel Lobby’s stranglehold. . . .

The neocons went berserk. Steve Rosen, formerly of AIPAC, currently indicted as an Israeli spy, Gabriel Schoenfeld, who wants the New York Times indicted for allegedly violating the Espionage Act for reporting the Bush regime’s illegal spying, Daniel Pipes, who sees Muslim terrorists under every bed, Michael Rubin of the warmonger American Enterprise Institute, and Frank Gaffney, possibly the goofiest person in America, damned Freeman’s appointment as “deeply troubling,” because Freeman has an open mind on the Middle East situation.

In other words, if you are not on Israel’s side, you are disqualified.

Well, as they say, the battle has been joined. Indeed, Walt has come out with a spirited defense of Freeman and a biting attack on his mostly-Jewish critics. Pointing to familiar smear tactics, Walt denounces “the usual suspects:”

Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, Gabriel Schoenfeld (writing on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal), Jonah Goldberg of National Review, Marty Peretz on his New Republic blog, and former AIPAC official Steve Rosen (yes, the same guy who is now on trial for passing classified U.S. government information to Israel).

Walt’s dismissal of Jeffrey Goldberg is stunning: “[His] idea of ‘public service’ was to enlist in the Israeli army.” Hmmm, sounds like a charge of dual loyalty. Abe Foxman (or is it Foxperson?) will be furious.

Walt is surely correct in describing this as a “thunderous, coordinated assault.” But I think Israel Shamir describes these all-out, in-your-face, full-court-press assaults even better. In an article appropriately titled “Carter and the Swarm,” Shamir describes the ferocious barrage on former president Jimmy Carter when he had the temerity to make some mild criticisms of Israel:

After Carter spoke, he was immediately counterattacked by organized Jewry. This was not a sight to miss. In my native Siberia, in its short and furious summer you may see swarm of gnats attack a horse, each tiny bloodsucker eager for his piece of action. In a while, the blinded and infuriated animal rushes headlong in mad sprint and soon finds its death in the bottomless moors. The Jews developed the same style of attack. It is never a single voice arguing the case, but always a mass attack from left and right, below and above, until the attacked one is beaten and broken and crawls away in disgrace.

Shamir draws our attention to the fundamental feature of these attacks: “Each attacker is as tiny and irrelevant as a single gnat, but as a swarm they are formidable.” Kevin MacDonald tells me that the swarm of gnats attacking him at CSU–Long Beach was quite similar: Hundreds of letters to faculty email lists over a period of two academic years — far too many to respond to.

In the case of Freeman, his swarm of attacking gnats is part and parcel of Jewish influence on the media. The shrill assault is waged from the high ground of the most prestigious media outlets in the US.

Should Freeman survive as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, he will have his work cut out for him. Obviously, there are powerful and familiar voices in the press unhappy with his views. Of course, these journalists and pundits on their own amount to little. But Jewish control of the media in most Western states—and especially in America—aids the attackers. “If Jews did not run the media,” Shamir remarks, “these gnats would not be heard by anyone but their spouses.”

Stay tuned. The fate of Charles Freeman will tell us much about the likelihood of yet another U.S. (or possibly Israeli) attack on peoples of the Middle East.

Edmund Connelly (email him) is a freelance writer, academic, and expert on the cinema arts. He has previously written for The Occidental Quarterly.