Foreign Policy

So, Is Human Rights Watch "Neocon" Now, Too?

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Remember when Saudi-bashing was a lefty thing? When Michael Moore was devoting a big chunk of Farenheit 9/11 to the over-warm relationship between U.S. leaders and the clannish House of Saud, stewards of the dictatorship that produced 15 of 19 hijackers on that sunny September morning, and Craig Unger was peddling House of Bush, House of Saud? Well now that Barack Obama is in the Oval Office, the proper lefty response has morphed into a full-throated defense of one of Saudi Arabia's most influential apologists: Former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, who has been nominated to head up the National Intelligence Council. Why? Because neocons don't like him.

The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss, who calls Freeman "a one-of-a-kind choice…with an impeccably establishment pedigree…[and] a startling propensity to speak truth to power," declaimed the "thunderous, coordinated assault" against Freeman by "the neocons, friends of the Israeli far right, and their allies." Stephen "The Israel Lobby" Walt decried "the despicable smear campaign against Charles Freeman," comparing Freeman's critics to Sen. Joseph McCarthy (yes, he used the headline: "Have they not a shred of decency?"). Andrew Sullivan noted the "attacks" by the "neocon right," and claimed that "Freeman was originally targeted…because he has actually criticized the recent policies of the state of Israel in blunt terms." And TPM Cafe's M.J. Rosenberg uncorked the most persuasive analysis since "Neener neener neener":

Hey, neocons, you lost. President Obama ignored you and appointed Chas Freeman anyway. Elliot Abrams' "back channel" is gone forever. Doug Feith is probably en route to The Hague.

Get over it.

All of which begs the question: Since when is Human Rights Watch an organ of the neocon right???

The Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch said, however, that Mr. Freeman's nomination sends the wrong message.

"A capacity to make moral distinctions may not be a prerequisite for being a good intelligence analyst," Tom Malinowski said. "But for such a high-profile appointment, it would still be wise for President Obama to weigh the message sent by choosing someone who has so consistently defended and worked for the clenched fists the president so eloquently challenged in his inaugural address."

As Michael Moynihan pointed out here recently, Freeman stands accused, plausibly, of sending out an e-mail to a diplomatic listserv arguing that "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." This is plausible, since it's of a piece with Freeman's referring to an anti-Chinese Tibetan protest as a "race riot," and leaning more toward the Beijing side when it comes to the dispute over Taiwan. And it's perfectly consistent with his long track record of issuing apologia for Saudi Arabia, one of the world's most illiberal countries, with whom he describes himself as a "friend."

"Saudi Arabia needs to make more serious long-term efforts—not just making new friends in the United States but helping its existing friends to be friends," he lamented in a remarkable September 2003 interview with the Saudi-American Forum. "Sometimes it's difficult to be a friend to Saudi Arabia. The current atmosphere brings you no public credit instead it brings you sometimes vicious criticism." Though the position always does manage to pay pretty well.

Speaking as neither neocon nor right-winger nor someone who spends much time even thinking about the state of Israel (sorry!), I can testify that my distaste for Freeman is neither "coordinated" nor emanating out of some secret Elliot Abrams man-love. I just don't fancy the kind of mind that, when asked in 2003 to name factors in the deterioriation of U.S.-Saudi relations, pinpoints as reason numero uno "changes in U.S. visa policy and entry procedures." Who, in the same interview, says this:

I should also say I've been very impressed by the extent to which Saudi Arabia, in the wake of 9/11, has engaged in introspection and taken on some tough problems that it had avoided addressing for many decades. […]

I'm sorry to say that I do not see the same level of introspection and consideration by Americans of what it is we might do to reduce friction with countries and peoples in the Middle East. […] Actually, I think we could learn a lot from the Saudis in terms of facing up to the need to take a good hard look at ourselves and our behavior.

It is possible to believe fervently that America should not exert its will onto the rest of the world, without crossing into a fantasy land wherein a country with no real press freedom, no elections, and no legal culture even allowing for anything resembling "introspection" is held up as an intellectual example from which the United States needs to learn. This is the definition of clientitis; it exhibits not a "startling propensity to speak truth to power" but rather a startling propensity to lob bouquets at dictators. Like, for instance, these Freeman remarks at the 2006 SAIS China Forum:

Mao Zedong had a force and energy which none but men of equally great spiritual conviction could withstand. His animal appetites, we now know, matched his intellectual vigor. He was an object of adulation to his subjects and of mingled admiration and dread to his subordinates and intimates. While Mao lived, the brilliance of his personality illuminated the farthest corners of his country and inspired many would-be revolutionaries and romantics beyond it.

Few indeed loved Chairman Mao's style of governance, but all but a few of those who despised it most loved the People's Republic he had founded more and hated him less than they feared him.

This is a man with warped judgment, and I'd rather not pay his salary, let alone have him screening important national intelligence. If that's the modern hate-fiction definition of "neocon," then perhaps it's time for a new definition.

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  1. Matt Welch: NeoCon stooge. Get ready for it, Matt.

  2. Tienanmen square stuff: bad

    A diplomat calling Saudi Arabia a friend at a Saudi-American relations forum: not bad

    Do the neocons actually give a damn about human rights in China: no

    Does it really matter how honest the neocon criticism is, if they happen to be right: probably not

    But does this guy’s human rights views matter to the job in question: case not yet made

  3. NeoCon once had an actual meaning. The word has been so corrupted however that now it simply means “Evil, evil person I disagree with on foreign policy.”

  4. What kind of creep hires such a creep to a sensitive intelligence job? I’m beginning to worry that our problems may be bigger than I thought.

  5. His animal appetites, we now know, matched his intellectual vigor

    That’s kind of surprising; I always thought of him and his homeboys Stalin & Hitler as ascetics. It hard to find time to kill millions of Chinese, Russians, Jews, etc, when you’re banging two chicks at once.

  6. Mao Zedong had a force and energy which none but men of equally great spiritual conviction could withstand. His animal appetites, we now know, matched his intellectual vigor. He was an object of adulation to his subjects and of mingled admiration and dread to his subordinates and intimates. While Mao lived, the brilliance of his personality illuminated the farthest corners of his country and inspired many would-be revolutionaries and romantics beyond it.
    Few indeed loved Chairman Mao’s style of governance, but all but a few of those who despised it most loved the People’s Republic he had founded more and hated him less than they feared him.

    He apparently thinks he’s Joseph Conrad, on top of all the other reasons to hate him.

  7. That was extremely disturbing.

    Seriously, this guy scares me.

  8. Come on, if you don’t find Chas a bit too disturbing for the post, you aren’t paying attention. Jesus.

  9. “Seriously, this guy scares me.”

    I agree, he does not belong in a position such as this. He should instead be made a college professor or history teacher in a government run public school.

  10. I agree this guy’s personal views on freedom seem odious. I’ve yet seen the case made that that has any impact on his job. On balance, I’m against the appointment for his views on freedom and China, sure. But it’s pretty clear the reason the Weekly Standard and TNR crowd hate him has to do entirely with Israel.

    The greatest part of this whole sideshow is seeing the same people who were just weeks ago defending dropping bombs on neighborhoods and shelling UN Schools are now getting all weepy about human rights. It’s a little rich.

    But like I said earlier, just because a lot of the Chas (Chas!) critics are being dishonest, doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

  11. anytime a person says somebody speaks “truth to power” be VERY skeptical.

    the term is such a cliche, so outdated, and only used by people steeped in ideology and ignorance.

    similarly, if somebody says they are “hip”…

    they aren’t.

  12. Chocolate Jesus layed his hands upon Chas Freeman and drove those dictator loving demons and cavalier human rights attitude from him.

    Have you no faith?

    Either that or

    ?Meet the new boss…?

  13. Our old bosses were totalitarians?

  14. Well, I can’t speak for others, but the guy is too tolerant of oppressors. In my mind, no one like that should be in our government, period.

    Besides, with the exception of Chas Addams, I can’t abide people who call themselves Chas.

  15. Our old bosses sucked up to them. This is more of the same.

  16. This looks to me like the Clintons are paying China back for all of the campaign funds they contributed to the Obama/Clinton campaign.

  17. Mao partied really hard. He was also quite paranoid; of course he had helped to build a state where he needed to be paranoid.

    I glanced at the Freeman speech on Mao (I didn’t read the whole thing in other words) and it seems that the thrust of his argument is that Mao created the unified state that China needed for later success and that if he had done this without the extremes (or if he had simply died long before he did) he would have a much higher status. I’ve heard similar arguments made about Hitler … if only he had died in 1938 or some such.

    I don’t buy into such arguments. If Mao had died in say 1956 (back when the Chinese leadership was getting cold feet towards Russia re: the “secret speech”) I don’t think it would have made a difference. Centralizing states (no matter their ideology) like China’s of the 1950s nearly always bring about mass misery and violence over the populations they wish to rule. Compare this to the decentralized revolution and state building which happened in the British colonies/United States in the last quarter of the 18th century.

  18. BTW, I am not suggesting that Freeman would defend Hitler; in fact, I doubt that he would. My point is that in states like that, where power is hyper-centralized in short order during and right after the revolution the domestic population should be expecting significant trouble.

    So, once the wheels were set in motion I don’t think it mattered whether Mao died in 1956 or 1976. That centralization was going to come with very ugly consequences as the state tried to establish itself as the sole sovereign and to enforce its will. This was especially so since the new Chinese state had so much discretion and so little to check its power.

  19. I guess I would add that China has a long history of centralization screwing things up; some scholars argue that this tendency is one of the reasons why China did not exploit its significant advantages vis a vis Europeans during the 15th and 16th centuries.

    These days of course decentralization seems to be a pretty significant hallmark of China (in economics, government, etc.), and I think that is a good thing.

  20. Il Duce is now your leader – He can do no wrong. If it is OK now to be friends with the sleazeballs of the House of Saud, then it is a good thing. If Il Duce says that he can square the circle, trisect the angle and make a perpetual motion machine work and invalidate the Laws of Economics, then he can – don’t doubt Him.

    Hey, at least He is not yet friends with the House of Harkonen… not yet anyway.

  21. “His [Mao] animal appetites, we now know, matched his intellectual vigor.”

    If what Freeman said is true, then Mao must have been a restrained saint, because his “intellectual vigor” was lacking – he was an ignorant peasant whose only virtue was his personality, matched only by his lust for blood and vengeance.

  22. Obama haters rejoice! Newt says he will run for potus on 2012 if he feels it’s necessary.

  23. Oh, and my apologies for the threadjack.

  24. “But does this guy’s human rights views matter to the job in question: case not yet made”

    The National Intelligence Council (NIC) is the center for midterm and long-term strategic thinking within the United States Intelligence Community (IC). According to its official website:
    -It leads the IC’s effort to produce National Intelligence Estimates and other documents;
    -It supports (and reports to) the Director of National Intelligence;
    -It serves as a focal point for policymaker’s questions;
    -It contributes to the effort to allocate IC resources in response to policy changes; and
    -It communicates with experts in academia and the private sector to broaden the IC’s perspective;

    The NIC’s goal is to provide policymakers with the best information: unvarnished, unbiased and without regard to whether the analytic judgments conform to current U.S. policy.

    One of the NICs most important analytical projects is a Global Briefing. Prepared every four years between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the Global Briefing assesses critical drivers and scenarios for future global outcomes approximatey fifteen years out. The Global Briefing provides a basis for long-range strategic policy assessment for the White House and the intelligence community.

    Case made yet?

  25. Obama haters rejoice! Newt says he will run for potus on 2012 if he feels it’s necessary.

    Well at least we would have a President who is articulate w/o a teleprompter.

  26. Case made yet?

    Negative, unless you can show me a human being who does not have any biases of any sort.

  27. “Well at least we would have a President who is articulate w/o a teleprompter.”

    I’ve been thinking lately about how having a strong ideology seems to warp every perception a person has. I’ve seen Obama “without a teleprompter (for example in debates and press conferences) and he seemed very articulate.

    I also think Newt is one of the smartest talkers in politics the last few decades. I thought it terrible how many people did not like him because he did not dumb down his talk.

    Of course, I agree with Obama on stuff and not Newt, but I can differentiate between someone being a good speaker and agreeing with what they said when they spoke.

  28. “But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow”

    -Paul McCartney, musician/right-wing Neocon Zionist

  29. MNG, I agree, I also think GWB is smarter than most people give him credit for. I disagree with him obviously but he is not the dunce that some on our side made him out to be.

  30. for the vulgar use of ‘begs the question’.

  31. Well at least we would have a President who is articulate w/o a teleprompter.

    …not to mention clean!

  32. We is all neocons now.

    Changes we cans believe in!

  33. We is all neocons now.

    Changes we cans believe in!

    I’m not one to throw around the charge of racism lightly, in fact I make fun of racial paranoia wherever I see it (both on the right and the left, quite a bit), but…is that some sort of minstrel thing you’re doing? Not funny.

  34. Thank you for the link to Freeman’s Mao speech.

    I am very offended by that speech. The most pertinent issue abotu Mao’s career and legacy is that he was perhaps the worst mass murderer of the 20th century (exceeding Hitler’s record), yet Freeman focused on the *realpolitik* aspects. To be sure, he was quite critical of Mao, but from the standpoint of realpolitik, not from the standpoint of ‘he was a Satanic killer vomited up from the depths of Hell itself.’ All we get is a throwaway line comparing Mao’s cruelty with that of the founder of the Han Dynasty.

    At least Freeman said that China needs to reform its human-rights policies. And if he’s critical of China’s *current* human rights record, then I would assume he doesn’t much care for Mao’s record, either.

    But let’s get real – I’m not expecting Obama administration officials to put much value on human life. Why pick on Freeman, when Obama, and his people, are championing the right of mothers to kill their unborn children, and the supposed duty of the federal government to subsidize this slaughter? It’s obvious that Freeman’s critics aren’t angry at him because of his disrespect for human life, but because of his opposition to American interventionism (which he criticized in the Mao speech, warning China not to imitate U.S. hegemonism).

    Freeman sounds like he might counterbalance the liberal interventionists, the neo-neocons, who are probably going to infest the administration. That would be a good thing.

  35. I’m not a fan of “begs the question.” It doesn’t mean “a question begging to be answered.” It means an answer that doesn’t actually answer the question. For example, during the election Obama would answer pretty much any question with “Hope and Change.” He was begging the question because he did not answer the question (or reveal that he wanted a Bolshevik Revolution in the US).

  36. Tying into the Rorshach thread(s), what sort of mendicant begs The Question?

  37. The greatest part of this whole sideshow is seeing the same people who were just weeks ago defending dropping bombs on neighborhoods and shelling UN Schools are now getting all weepy about human rights. It’s a little rich.

    Nice ad hominem, max. You’re aware that its a fallacy, right?

  38. Wait, I’m confused…isn’t this the Reason website?!

    Everyone here knows that Bush and THE NEOCON JOOOOOOOOSS were behind 9/11, and the Saudis were just convenient fall guys! What is this cover-up piece doing on the shining pages of Reason?!

  39. Trooth,

    Your new here arn’t you?

  40. FTG–
    Mao, like most of the mass murderers of the 20th century, not only viewed himself as an intellectual, but was one. He trained as a teacher.

  41. Didn’t Obama run, in part, on his “superior judgment”?

    And now he wants THIS guy?

    Oh, this is going to be the biggest case of buyer’s remorse in human history.

    Question is: How will the US public react when they realize 1) what a terrible, terrible mistake they made, 2) there’s no money-back guarantee, and 3) they bought it for at least 4 years?

  42. ArtPOG: Only Rorschach could beg The Question. “I looked up and pleaded ‘Get off the stage so nobody will realize I’m just a cheap imitation of a Steve Ditko classic!’ And he looked down and whispered ‘no.’ So I split his head open with a meat cleaver.”

  43. Do the neocons actually give a damn about human rights in China: no

    So now Hillary Clinton is a Neocon?

  44. There is much more to the out-of-context quote you pulled on Tiananmen Square and your excerpt is highly misleading. This is a classic case of “gotcha journalism,” sifting through every syllable someone uttered to find enough nuggets with which to destroy their reputations. Freeman may not be the very best choice, but he stands for much more than what this post implies and he is no communist sympathizer or radical. This is another incarnation of a popular right-wing meme slandering Freeman on a range of hot-button issues, notably Saudi Arabia, and offering nuggets and links and innuendo. Once examined seriously, it’s pretty clear there’s far more smoke than fire.

  45. Uh oh, now Chas Freeman is getting “welched.” Hey, Matt, maybe you need to send a generous donation in addition to your annual dues to AIPAC. Your Israel-first back channnel to American foreign policy is going dark.

  46. I wonder whether the people now defending Mr. Freeman would be upset if President Obama had instead picked someone who was on the payroll of the Israeli Government?

  47. Mao, like most of the mass murderers of the 20th century, not only viewed himself as an intellectual, but was one. He trained as a teacher.

    Teachers are intellectuals? I think not.

    The Math SAT: As would be expected, Mathematics majors scored highest of all the majors on the Math portion, with a 626 point average. They soundly trounced the Language and Literature majors, who were 76 points behind. But here’s the kicker: Language and Literature scored 67 points higher in Math than Education majors!

    Wait! There’s more.

    The Verbal SAT: Here, Language and Literature majors got their reciprocity, outperforming all other majors with a score of 603. Mathematics majors were forced to lick their wounds 58 points back. But (and you knew this was coming) the Math majors came off as quite cultured in comparison to our soon-to-be public school teachers, beating Education majors by 63 Verbal points!

    Don’t try that nonsense again.

  48. I don’t know about Welch, but over at Neo-Con central, Commentary – they are flipping over this appointment, as if every line is lit up with fervent calls from Tel Aviv. Did Welch object to Bushian contacts with Saudi Arabia? I’ve never heard of this guy or read him before, but Neo-Con puffery on China human rights is a joke…

  49. We is all neocons now.

    Changes we cans believe in!

    I’m not one to throw around the charge of racism lightly, in fact I make fun of racial paranoia wherever I see it (both on the right and the left, quite a bit), but…is that some sort of minstrel thing you’re doing? Not funny.

    I think you’re confusing minstrelry with lolcattery.

  50. I think you’re confusing minstrelry with lolcattery.

    If it’s lolcattery, where’s the hip 1337 spelling? Although, if so, I apologize. If not, :::shakes fist:::

    DISCLAIMER: The ambiguity is…interesting.

  51. Any libertarian claiming to oppose interventionist foreign policies should rank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the worst regime on Earth. It harbors and promotes a state religion that explicitly aims to conquer, or at least “Finlandize,” all of humanity. It funds 90% of the Muslim institutions in the world. It has spent millions buying off elite American opinion. Someday, historians will look back on the early 21st century and wonder why the US did not deal appropriately with the KSA. If we’re lucky, the context won’t be “… while they had the chance.”

  52. Did Welch object to Bushian contacts with Saudi Arabia?

    The post contains links.

  53. The link to the “statement” from Human Rights Watch instead goes to a Washington Times article that doesn’t have the quote in it. Is there another source where we can find the quote? Also re Freeman’s statements on Tienamen Square incident its sourced out of the NeoCon outfit the Weekly Standard. Could be a coincidence of course. But then again Goldfarb released the quote in context yesterday and it wasn’t nearly as incindiary as it was first put forth. In point of fact Freeman acknowledged that China has fallen well short in living up to their responsibility for human rights. And he was making a historical analogy with what was done in this country by McCarthy. In light of the new OLC memos coming out showing that President Bush sought the authority to, among other things, undermine free speech in the media after 9-11 Freeman probably wasn’t too far off in his assessment of what our country would have done in the face of similar protests. I can point to a short 40 or 50 years ago when police violently with firehoses and dogs attacked people marching or protesting for civil rights.

  54. J sub D – Back in the day, I tutored quite a few social science education majors in college. I was amazed that some of those people were even in college.

  55. @richard | March 7, 2009, 9:21am

    There is much more to the out-of-context quote you pulled on Tiananmen Square and your excerpt is highly misleading. This is a classic case of “gotcha journalism,” sifting through every syllable someone uttered to find enough nuggets with which to destroy their reputations.

    Yes there is much more. There’s also Chas Freeman’s email on Tiananmen Square, for example.

    Taking something “out-of-context” doesn’t mean that it was merely surrounded by other words, it implies that the meaning is changed by the context. The link you yourself provided is merely the same argument with a slightly more diplomatic tone. With the exception of the sneer quotes around “unarmed students”. Classy.

  56. J sub D,

    you are confusing the ‘educators’ in the US with the ‘teachers’ in Asia. not the same!

    there is no “education” major in most of those countries. teachers graduate with a major and then take additional training to teach. they end up teaching the subject that they majored in – for the most part.

    I am not making an argument that Mao was an intellectual. based on what he did in cultural revolution, it is hard to think he was. i believe the same about our “pseudo-intellectuals” who think Stalin and Mao are great.

    anyway, SAT scores of the dregs of American colleges is not a valid measure of the intellect of Asian teachers.

  57. Oceans,
    ‘Tis true all over the world.
    Those who can do.
    You know the rest.

    Anyway, my point was not that no teachers are intellectuals, but that being trained as a teacher is evidence unsupporting of the claim.

    Mao, like most of the mass murderers of the 20th century, not only viewed himself as an intellectual, but was one. He trained as a teacher.

    Substitute prostitute or ditch digger for teacher and the statement makes just as much sense.

  58. Education does not equal intelligence just as winning the debate does not mean that one is correct.

    I wish a lot more people understood both of those points.

    J sub D,

    Agree totally. Although had Mao trained as a prostitute, I think that he would have been engaged in a much more honest (as well as a much less destructive) line of work.

  59. Good piece, but they are right. This election was not about banks or health care, as you moderate intellectuals may have thought. It was about neocons. So, everyone who does not like current administration, is a hidden neocon. Congratulations, you joined the ranks.

  60. It’s my understanding that being an intellectual doesn’t mean being intelligent, it means dealing with words and ideas, whether as a job, or as an obsession which you bring into some other job, or as an obsession outside of your job. It also generally entails hanging out in the same general milieu as other people who deal with words and ideas in a similar way. In other words, feeling like an intellectual goes a good way towards actually *being* an intellectual.

    Saying someone can’t be an intellectual because (s)he’s stupid is kind of like saying someone can’t be a U.S. Congress member because (s)he doesn’t have a commitment to constitutional principles and lacks expertise in public policy. These may be good reasons why someone *shouldn’t be* a Congressperson, but it doesn’t automatically rule out their *actually being* one. Likewise, it could be said that stupid people *shouldn’t be* intellectuals, but many stupid people clearly *are.*

    There are plenty of examples of intellectual politicians and generals, like Trotsky and (on a higher plane) Marcus Aurelius. Mao seems in that tradition, since he sure wrote a lot of polemical articles and speeches in which he expounded ideas. Evil and stupid ideas, to be sure, but ideas.

  61. The difference between a political figure who’s an intellectual and one who’s not can be seen in the difference between Thomas Jefferson (definitely an intellectual) and George Washington (definitely not an intellectual). Doesn’t make Jefferson smarter than Washington (though he may have been), and it certainly doesn’t mean the quality of Jefferson’s ideas was greater than Washington’s (it wasn’t). But Jefferson definitely had a hard-on for literature and philosophy and sought to make his own contributions. Washington had ideas (mainly great ones), but he didn’t deeply cogitate on them in an intellectual-ish manner.

  62. There are a million Christians in Saudi who face arrest, loss of job and deportation if they dare to try to worship in private.

    Most of them are Filipino, KeralanIndian, Lebanese or African OFW, so their human rights don’t count.

    (There are no Christian churches in Saudi).

    Yet the press is silent on their plight…

  63. And yes, Mr. Godwin, at one point in his career (the Vienna years) Hitler was an intellectual, too.

  64. Charles Freeman has been more than an apologist for the Wahhabist Entity. He has been on their payroll. The Saudis bankrolled the think tank he runs, as they hand out money to so many US ex-ambassadors and university faculty who act as shills for them. So Obama has decided to appoint a Saudi pensioner to the post of writing the National Intelligence Estimate and directing which intel information the President will see on a daily basis. And many people are saying that if one is worried about this blatant conflict of interest, one has to be a neo-con (Current meaning: a dirty Jew).

    Well guess what guys, the dreaded neo-cons were the only people on 9/11 who knew what was going on or had any idea how to fight it. As near as I can tell, that is still the case.

    Obama appoints a Saudi paid agent of influence as top intel evaluator and gatekeeper of the President’s intel access and all his defenders can do is make ad hominem attacks on the critics. Very perceptive of you anti-neo-cons, very perceptive.

  65. There are a million Christians in Saudi who face arrest, loss of job and deportation if they dare to try to worship in private.

    Most of them are Filipino, KeralanIndian, Lebanese or African OFW, so their human rights don’t count.

    Well its not like the Saudis single out Christians for such treatment. Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and practitioners of every other non-Muslim faith are barred from worshiping in Saudi. Pretty much every one who goes to Saudi knows this in advance, so while this religious persecution is wrong, its not exactly a humanitarian disaster.

  66. Also, as an Indian, let me just say that unlike (for example) the Mexicans, we prefer spaces between an adjective and the word “Indian”. And that’s Keralite, btw, not Keralan.

  67. Speaking as neither neocon nor right-winger nor someone who spends much time even thinking about the state of Israel (sorry!)

    You don’t know what you’re missing!

  68. Art P.O.G.
    Don’t be too harsh on JB. His mom told him to stop blogging so much and do his homework. He understandably pissed off.

  69. Art-P.O.G., I was going more for lolcats, but definitely referencing the way many stupid people talk.

    It may seem unusual to you, but all sorts of stupid people talk like that. Last I checked, stupidity doesn’t belong to any one melanin level.

    Pretty much anyone that uses the word ‘neocon’ is stupid and that is what I was making fun of.

  70. economist, why don’t you grow up and buy a sense of humor? It’s fairly obvious you need one.

    My comment was funny. Yours was not.

  71. It’s important not to be too dismissive about Mao (many make a similar mistake with Marx). Mao was a strategic genius; if we only learn from people that were ‘good’ we won’t learn very much at all.

  72. There is nothing that should be remotely controversial in what he said about Mao: the man terrorized and misgoverned his country, but he had an undeniably powerful personality and he was an object of adulation for a huge number of his subjects. Freeman also deserves congratulation for accurately describing the Tibet riots – they were indeed marked by systemic racial/ethnic violence against non-Tibetan civilians.

  73. The lefties have been completely marginalized by the mainstream democratic center, which is why you’re not hearing from them anymore. It was a pretty impressive achievement, to be honest.

  74. I agree with Mr Welch.Anybody who thinks that most people in then Socialist China feared Mao
    is a dangerous fellow.

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