Freeman on Arab Leaders: “easy to misread these expressions”

For a piece on the IPS wire, Jim Lobe and I interviewed Chas Freeman, a career foreign service officer who served as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and just released a new book, America’s Misadventures in the Middle East,  on the recent history of the U.S. in the Middle East.

Here’s what he had to say about the hawkish comments of some autocratic Arab leaders found in the WikiLeaks cable dump:

“It’s never been a secret that the Gulf Arabs are deeply concerned by Iran’s growth in power and influence in the region, much of which was made possible by various U.S. policies (in Iraq, Syria, the occupied territories, and Lebanon),” he told IPS.

“But I think it’s easy to misread these expressions. If you say ‘cut off the head of the snake,’ or if you say ‘not dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue is more dangerous than dealing with it,’ what you’re saying, in my experience with rulers in the Gulf, is that you look to the U.S. to solve problems that you have no idea how to deal with but which bother you,” Freeman said.

“Does that mean that you’re endorsing military strikes? Despite the vivid language, I’d say it doesn’t. What is says is there’s a problem and we look to you (as a superpower) to handle it,” he said.

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Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

One Comment

  1. Of course the Arab states want us to “deal with” Iran while they stay safely on the sidelines, but the fact remains that they are scared by Iranian ambitions, nuclear and otherwise. You guys (Gharib, Lobe, Freeman) are just kidding yourselves when you say that the Wikileaks material doesn’t say what it plainly does say.

    Wikileaks has done the hawks a big favor with these revelations. The news that some Arab states would like to see Iran taken down a peg or three won’t make the war happen, but it will reanimate the flagging hopes of the neocons and their supporters. Be ready for a new and sustained drumbeat for war, thanks to Wikileaks.

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