Chas Freeman: Meet President Clump
Oct. 20, 2016 (EIRNS)—In a speech last week before the Middle East Policy Council, former Ambassador Chas Freeman delivered a sobering perspective on what American policy in the Middle East might and should look like in the next Administration. Freeman gave his frank assessment of the two rival candidates at the outset of his remarks:
“I have a political confession to make,” he began.
“I do not believe that we are about to elect a president able to govern effectively and end dysfunction in Washington. Whoever we choose as our president seems certain to be regarded as illegitimate and opposed by supporters of her or his rival. These opponents will be just as determined to discredit and oust her or him from office as diehard Republicans have been to thwart and discredit President Obama over the past eight years. This means that indecision born of political gridlock, the sequester, and other illnesses of our body politic will continue. It might even get worse.
“After careful analysis of Mr. Trump’s inconstancy on the Middle East and other matters, I have come to suspect that he is actually five guys sharing a single, oversized orange wig. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton presents herself as the pitiless goddess of air strikes, drone warfare, and dead tyrants. But, at heart, the two candidates faithfully reflect the narratives, prejudices, and conventional policy approaches of the nation they propose to lead. This gives them so much in common that it is more efficient to discuss them together than separately. So, I will refer to Candidates Clinton and Trump as one gender-fluid person: Candidate Clump.
“Candidate Clump is on the payroll of the Israel Lobby’s major donors, wants to isolate Iran, and loves sanctions and other forms of economic warfare more than trade and investment. Clump was for the invasion of Iraq before heshe was against it. Heshe is more interested in poking at the Middle East than in understanding it. Clump thinks terrorism is a function of theology rather than a violent response by misfits to humiliation and social marginalization. Heshe is convinced that bombing is the best antidote to what heshe imagines is a religious onslaught. Heshe is not fond of Egypt and wishes Saudi Arabia would go away. When elected, President Clump will give Israel whatever it must have to fend off political tantrums by it. In short, the next president will concentrate on keeping the lid on the explosive mess the last few presidents have made of the Middle East and America’s position in it, not on defusing or dismantling the mess.”
After presenting his prognosis of the choices for Nov. 8, Ambassador Freeman engaged the audience in an exercise in strategic thinking, demanding that they concentrate on what U.S. policy in the Middle East should and could be, rather than the dismal prospects of business as usual under Clump. He argued that the United States had to start with an entirely different Syria policy, based on getting all outside parties to halt the weapons supplies that have kept the war going for six years, thus allowing the Syrian parties to work out a solution among themselves. To make his point on Syria, he itemized twelve distinct wars that are all underway inside Syria, mostly driven by rivalries and disputes among outside parties. He argued that the Saudi Arabia versus Iran dynamic had to be broken, and that the U.S. policy should secondarily focus on finding areas of common interest between Washington, Riyadh, and Tehran. He also argued that, with the Israel-Palestine “peace process” dead and incapable of being resurrected, the United States should stop being the enabler of the settlement expansion, by cutting off aid and forcing Israel to negotiate with its neighbors.