Laura Rozen has done a really great piece of reporting on Dennis Ross‘ new appointment as “Special Advisor on the Gulf and Southwest Asia” to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Very much worth reading in full to get a Kremlinological fix on Ross’ seemingly reduced role.
No matter what his current situation and portfolio, Dennis Ross surely fared better than Anthony Zinni — and in my book, Dennis is quite a fair trade for Chas Freeman.
Sources tell me that Freeman will most likely be on the job as the new Chairman of the National Intelligence Council — essentially the think tank for the CIA and Directorate of National Intelligence — in about 30 days.
Some in the hard line AIPAC crowd, though not formally AIPAC itself, are going after Freeman for having been a financial beneficiary from Saudi relationships.
The FBI-targeted former AIPAC policy director Steve Rosen has been out working over time to try and do Freeman in — but Rosen has been having a tough time finding handles and levers to pull in Washington.
For a non-confirmed position that doesn’t rely on Congress except perhaps for winks and nods, Steve Rosen‘s influence is lessened — and of course, the things he is accusing Freeman of in his private business life are pretty much the same that George W. Bush and many twigs on the Bush family have enjoyed for decades.
On top of that, Rosen may be trying to set up a litmus test on funding and business relationships with other governments that are allied with the United States that may raise many similar questions about Israel government sponsorship of American policy hands.
This is a dangerous slippery slope for the Israel-Zero-Sum crowd to push.
But that said, if they throw all they have at Freeman and lose, that may not be such a bad thing. It’s kind of like Obama winning Florida and not owing the most hardline of anti-Castro fanatics a thing for his win.
I think it’s increasingly clear that Barack Obama is pushing a very full spectrum range of talent and perspective into his Middle East policy team, and if Rosen and the other Israel-hardliners are going to prove anything in the campaign against Freeman, it will be their general impotence in challenging Barack Obama as flagrantly and as crudely as they are doing now.
I may not like everything Obama and his Middle East team are up to every moment, but I do think it’s exceedingly clear that he’s not going into this arena with the traditional biases and the traditional “false choice” approach that many others before him have taken.
For that, kudos to Obama, Jim Jones, Robert Gates, Denis McDonough, Mark Lippert, Hillary Clinton, Bill Burns, Jim Steinberg, Dennis Blair, Mara Rudman, George Mitchell and others.
I think Steve Rosen’s chances of flipping Chas Freeman are pretty much nil.
— Steve Clemons