President Obama’s reported pick to head the National Intelligence Council (NIC), former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman, has been praised by critics of U.S. foreign policy for being one of the few Obama foreign policy appointees who isn’t a crazed, warmongering Likudnik. Indeed, Freeman has been pilloried by all the usual suspects — like indicted AIPAC spy Steve Rosen — for his outspoken denunciations of the Iraq war and the “bipartisan consensus” that enabled it. As Jim Lobe writes, “He doesn’t pull punches,” and barring the nomination of Noam Chomsky as Secretary of State, he seems about as good a foreign policy pick as one could expect out of the U.S. government.
. . . the truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than — as would have been both wise and efficacious — to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China. In this optic, the Politburo’s response to the mob scene at “Tian’anmen” stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action.
For myself, I side on this — if not on numerous other issues — with Gen. Douglas MacArthur. I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be. Such folk, whether they represent a veterans’ “Bonus Army” or a “student uprising” on behalf of “the goddess of democracy” should expect to be displaced with despatch from the ground they occupy. I cannot conceive of any American government behaving with the ill-conceived restraint that the Zhao Ziyang administration did in China, allowing students to occupy zones that are the equivalent of the Washington National Mall and Times Square, combined. while shutting down much of the Chinese government’s normal operations. I thus share the hope of the majority in China that no Chinese government will repeat the mistakes of Zhao Ziyang’s dilatory tactics of appeasement in dealing with domestic protesters in China.
Reading this generously — very generously — one could argue that, well, at least Freeman grants the Chinese state the same right to repression his comrades in the U.S. government undoubtedly believe they are entitled to. That is, when it comes to brutality and unchecked state power, Freeman’s no American exceptionalist.