The Corner

Tiananmen Square, Context, and Realism

Many of Chas Freeman’s supporters argue without merit that his statements were taken out of context. This is disingenous, as Freeman’s emails were made public in their entirety.

Freeman wrote: “I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.”

Would NIO Freeman, therefore side with communists concerning the 1956 crackdown in Hungary, the 1968 Prague Spring, or the declaration of martial law in Poland? If Freeman is the uberrealist, perhaps he can explain why such dissident uprisings were against U.S. interests? Was it a bad things that East Germans took on the Berlin Wall? Do we need another “Chicken Kiev” speech?

There’s nothing wrong with realism. It should start with recognizing the motivations and ambitions of one’s adversaries. For Freeman, however, realism seems less about promoting the interests of the United States and far more about promoting the interests of his wallet, often to the benefit of U.S. adversaries.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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