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Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is outspoken on many current issues, from Kerry’s peace process to Syria, Egypt, Iran and Benghazi as well as US-China relations, the subject of his new book.Click here for GoDaddy deal that supports the PBC podcast!
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Freeman started at the State Department in 1965, went to China on Nixon’s historic 1972 trip, served as Bush I ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was Clinton’s undersecretary of Defense, and withdrew his nomination to a post in the Obama administration after attacks from allies of Israel.
His new book is Interesting Times: China, America and the Shifting Balance of Prestige.
We open with Freeman’s comments on John Kerry’s peace initiative, which Freeman calls “meetings about meetings”. He deplores the way Chuck Hagel and Samantha Power had to embrace pro-Israel positions to get confirmed, and refers to his own encounter with the Israel lobby.
He analyzes the Syrian conflict in context with Iraq and Iran, and opposes US arms shipments to rebels. He flatly states that Egypt just experienced a coup, and agrees with PBC that, as with Hamas, the US promotes democracy except when it produces results we don’t like. He also agrees that Benghazi led to a coverup to protect the CIA, not Hillary Clinton or others in the Obama administration.
We shift to China, and cite some passages from the book that portray China as a growing economic power with limited military intentions. Freeman is critical of Obama’s pivot to the Pacific. We share concerns about cyberwarfare with China, which has not been debated or approved by Congress. Asked about Ed Snowden, Freeman praises the NSA leaker for disclosing domestic surveillance, which he views as unconstitutional; and he slams Congress for failure at oversight and for allowing a “garrison state” to emerge with dangerous layers of secrecy. And he downplays Pepe Escobar’s analysis of the struggle for the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin.