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Saturday, March 14, 2009

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I agree with much of this, but it'd be nice if we started seeing mainstream people saying "Yes, there are ridiculous taboos that surround the discussion of the Israel/Palestine debate" and what happened to Freeman's nomination was an example of this. This started to happen, at least to some extent. It complicates the argument if it turns out Freeman supported the suppression of Chinese dissent and has been distorting his own record. You know how this works--if he is discredited, as he apparently deserves to be, then it also means that all those people yelling about the power of the Lobby were just being anti-semites. Oh well.

On a personal note, I believed those folks who said he was unfairly condemned on the China issue. I guess I was wrong.

And on a less personal note, it is lesson number 5384 in why one should be extremely cautious about making a hero out of someone in mainstream political circles. They almost never deserve it. If they're good on one issue, they're probably horrific on others.

He's sort of implicitly supporting repression of dissent here in the US, too.

Actually he was unfairly condemned, somewhat, based on the criticisms I saw. He certainly didn't endorse the massacre, and his usage of "restraint" in reference to the Chinese government is perfectly understandable and even reasonable in context. But just as the criticisms went too far, the defenses have as well; I had a good laugh over Justin Raimondo saying it was obvious "to any literate person" that Freeman wasn't describing his own views, and that you'd have to be stupid to think otherwise.

And yeah, Freeman is more than implicit in his support for repression of dissent here as well (in the parts of his email I didn't quote). As a "realist", I suppose he doesn't bother with fuzzy notions of right and wrong. And he's spot on when he says that the U.S. government would have acted far more quickly than the Chinese government did (although the violence wouldn't have been so extreme).

It's true that it may help to have such a high-profile example of the lobby's (abuse of) power, but then again, it's not like there's any shortage of those....

People who live under repressive regimes get very good at identifying small cracks in the edifice of power. "Did you see who was on top of Lenin's tomb reviewing the troops at the last May Day parade? The reformers were slightly closer to the center of the dais! Hooray!"

And so those of us who live under the thumb of AIPAC (or at least some of us) look for small hints that AIPAC's power may be waning and for tiny indications of possible fissures in the alliance between the U.S. and Israeli national-security states. The fact that Freeman was even nominated, and held on as long as he did, is seen as a hopeful sign (hey, it's not much, but it's all we've got.)

Plus there's the exciting possibility that, each time the Israel lobby throws its weight around in an obvious way, it alienates some segment of the U.S. power elite, and the public generally (hey, it's not much, but...)

Of course, there's always the question of how much AIPAC really controls the US government, and how much the US government uses AIPAC as a convenient excuse for doing things it wants to do anyway, but that's separate discussion.

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