Nixon Center has Ticket of the Month: Chas Freeman vs. Rob Satloff


Robert_Satloff_press_photo.jpgIt’s invite only, a small group, no subs — but on the record.
At the Nixon Center, it will be Chas Freeman vs. Rob Satloff on the topic: “Israel: Strategic Asset or Liability?”
This is one of the few genuine debates on Israel-Middle East issues that I have seen organized in Washington, though I do want to tip my hat to the Hudson Institute for a program last year that had a range of speakers ranging from Meyrav Wurmser to Daniel Levy and lots of other credible Israel-Middle East voices across the spectrum. That was an excellent exchange, but that was last year.
chas freeman standing.jpgThe Nixon Center gets the “chutzpah award” for bringing in the big guns who won’t pull their punches – and yet know how to be civil while trying to shove each other out of the ring.
Robert Satloff is Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy while Chas Freeman, Chairman of Projects International and a former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was up for a position as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council in the Obama administration until many in the American Jewish community raised substantial concerns about Freeman’s nomination. Retired four star General Chuck Boyd, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Nixon Center, will moderate the discussion.
This is a clip from the Nixon Center invitation:

President Obama’s recent White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been portrayed as repairing a relationship damaged by major policy differences. Yet, as public discussion of U.S.-Israel ties grows, the meeting left many questions unanswered. How strong is the U.S.-Israel relationship? What is the relationship’s basis? Is it truly “unbreakable” as described by President Obama?
Each of our speakers is widely regarded as an authority on the Middle East. Chas Freeman is a former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs. He is currently Chairman of Projects International and President Emeritus of the Middle East Policy Council. Robert Satloff is Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a prominent commentator in the national media, and the author or editor of nine books and monographs on Middle East issues.

The meeting takes place on July 20th, a date I will be in Beijing – in no small part due to the efforts of Richard Nixon to change global gravity by normalizing relations during a time of great doubt about the US around the world.
In some ways, getting Israel/Palestine on a real, two state track as well as figuring out the Iran puzzle are the “Nixon Goes to China” opportunities for the Obama administration.
I am counting on one of my journalist/blogger friends who will make the Nixon Center’s cut to send me the “audio file” of this meeting as soon as it is finished.
What a ticket!
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Nixon Center has Ticket of the Month: Chas Freeman vs. Rob Satloff

  1. rc says:

    I posted an early link of this way down below at the tail end of another thread, but in case it was missed I think this short interview series with Shir Hever (*) by the Real News is informative, balanced and worth the few minutes it takes (there are about six short segments now)
    “Shir Hever is an economic researcher in the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli organization active in Jerusalem and Beit-Sahour. Researching the economic aspect of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, some of his research topics include international aid to the Palestinians and Israel, the effects of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on the Israeli economy, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of the economy of the Israeli occupation.” (Ibid.)


  2. Carroll says:

    Posted by Warren Metzler, Jul 13 2010, 8:38PM – Link
    I believe you are right.


  3. Warren Metzler says:

    I just want to comment on this “only Nixon” could go to China. Obvious this is commonly held, but I suggest it is a delusion. When Nixon went to China, he sprung it on us. Just went and did his thing. Any president can do anything, as long as he’s presents that he’s convinced it is a valid action to take. Of course if later that action appears to lead to disaster, that president would receive a lot of political heat.
    But I believe that the American people are good hearted by and large. And if Obama was able to do a magnanimous act, I think the American people would respond positively. I, which saddens me, have become convinced Obama lacks the necessary character to do a magnanimous act, only willing to do what fits his image of facilitating getting re-elected in 2012.


  4. DonS says:

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been out of the loop, so to speak, TWN-wise, for a week or so, but Warren Metzler’s comments @2:12 bring back the recognition of how the US Israeli-centric delusion infects so many areas of policy and behavior.
    The pseudo reasonable, as well as the downright jingoistic protestations of the Zionists hereabouts reflects a startling hubris that somehow the latent store of American good will towards Israel is a bottomless well. Maybe that confidence is well placed. Politicians may continue to grovel at the AIPAC altar. But their sorry epitaths that history will write are little comfort to the interests of the country, the US, they sell out on a daily basis.


  5. Jackie says:

    That is very interesting, thanks. I knew Eisenhower gave the Israelis an ultimatum. I just wish the re-write of the tax code had gone ahead. I’m convinced that tax deductible donations from the US fuel this conflict. Without them, the Israelis would have to make accomadations with their neighbors and quit stealing land.


  6. anirprof says:

    Interesting to mention the Nixon opening to China, Steve.
    Remember the phrase, “Only Nixon can go to China?”. What would the parallel “Only ??? can go to Tehran?” be, or who for “Only ??? can say ‘no’ to Jerusalem”?
    Unfortunately, I’m afraid the political reality is that Obama doesn’t fit that catchphrase, anymore than Eugene McCarthy or George McGovern could have pulled off what Nixon did even had they followed the exact same policy playbook — it would have fallen apart domestically.
    If it’s true that it took someone with Nixon’s red-baiting history — “remember Matsu!” — to have the political capital to open with China, then the parallel is this: “Only Cheney can go to Tehran”. Or “Only Palin can say ‘no’ to Israel”. I’m with you on the bestpolicy choice, but without senior GOP leaders with solid security credentials backing it, I don’t think there is an opening for Obama. Probably it takes a GOP administration.


  7. Warren Metzler says:

    I find it truly amazing that there are smart people in this country, who don’t recognize that Israel is going to drag down the US with its doomed insanity. Do people believe that eventually the entire Middle East countries won’t have sufficient nuclear devices and military strength that they can overpower Israel? Are people blind to the extreme pain and suffering Israel is piling on the Palestinians more and more every day?
    Do you stop and think what unbelievable hutzpah, egotism, totally unfounded delusion must exist in Israel to give itself permission to tell Jordan, you have to tell us all you are doing in nuclear power, or you can’t have an in country program?
    Do you people believe that the US government can continued to have an insane (support everything Israel wants) program and retain government workers that are rational and have common sense in all they do. Do you actually believe that all the people who work in jobs that involve dealing with Israel, can make irrational (anti American benefit) decisions related to Israel, and then revert to rational decision making when it comes to all the other areas in which they function?
    It is irrational to claim it is reasonable to have a country that favors a particular ethnic or religious group. And all such countries are headed for demise.
    Finally, I suggest that the Palestinian situation will not be resolved until the Palestinians see themselves as a people who deserve a state and began to act in a manner that demonstrates that attitude; and sufficient Israelis realize they are killing their moral souls continuing to act in this draconian kill everyone who opposes, continued march to control all the areas in which the 12 tribes lived in Old Testament times, type of people.
    As long as the intelligent American electorate continues to intellectually support our government’s insane policy toward Israel it will remain. And until our government gives up this nonsense it will remain. And as long as it remains we will have fewer and fewer friends in the world, a progressively increasing national debt, and increasing moral corruption in our society.
    I weep for this country.


  8. Carroll says:

    Find another Eisenhower.
    Why I


  9. Gandhi says:

    Should make for quite thoughtful insights on ME issues. Any idea if it will be recorded by C-SPAN or or others, Steve…?


  10. Carroll says:

    I continue to marvel that the US and especially Israel still think that they can command the ME foreever.
    Reports: US Threatens to End Jordan Aid Over Nuclear Program
    US Demands Jordan Coordinate All Moves With Israel
    by Jason Ditz, July 12, 2010
    Last month, Jordan


  11. Pietr Hitzig says:

    I hope you (or your sub) will post this interview when it is available.
    I went to Prep School with Chas 50 years ago and have hoped that some how he could become Secretary of State. The last go-around with IAPAC unfortunately made even this diehard realize that would never happen.


  12. Dan Kervick says:

    Thanks for catching that, WigWag.
    Anyway, this kind of debate comes about 18 months too late. The Obama administration’s brief window of opportunity has already closed. The Freeman and Satloff square-off can provide nothing but entertainment value.


  13. WigWag says:

    Dan, surely Steve would be invited. But in his post he said,
    “The meeting takes place on July 20th, a date I will be in Beijing…”


  14. Dan Kervick says:

    “I am counting on one of my journalist/blogger friends who will make the Nixon Center’s cut to send me the “audio file” of this meeting as soon as it is finished.”
    I can’t believe you won’t be invited Steve.


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