By Chas Freeman, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Reviewed by Gwen Clare
Dissatisfied with the third debate, the one devoted to foreign policy, between President Obama and candidate Romney? Longing for a discussion of the real challenges the United States faces? One way to begin might be listening to Chas Freeman, a career diplomat who served as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992.
His expertise during his Foreign Service career spanned from China, where he served as Richard Nixon’s senior interpreter on the surprise trip to that country, to the Middle East.Since retiring from the Department of State, Ambassador Freeman has served as President of the Middle East Policy Council, co-chair of the U.S. China Policy Foundation, and vice-chair of the Atlantic Council. He has recently spoken about how this century will differ from the 20th as new forces and powers arise, where no one country will call all the shots.
The 45-minute interview covers many of the themes raised in Freeman’s recent speeches: the fiscal cliff limits our ability to both lead and serve as a model; the end of the Cold War left us with no over-arching contest to define us; our allies’ cuts in their defense budgets undermine our alliances; and the rise of the BRICsBrazil, Russia, India, and Chinadiffuses power and competition, with China a formidable economic competitor.
Always thoughtful, and never one to shy from controversy, Ambassador Freeman tackles topics that no candidate will discuss, even though the victor will have to deal with this new, uncertain world. You may not agree with some of his points, but Freeman will get you thinking and longing for a public debate about these issues.