Restoring the Sacred

Friday, April 9, 2010

Andy McCarthy: Petraeus’s Israel Problem

To use the words Political and Perfidy in the same sentence with Petraeus would, despite the alliterativeness, grate on the psyche. Andy McCarthy's article, on National Review Online, about the recent flap over General Petraeus's semi (at least) dissing of Israel, though, brings those two words to mind. Anyone who still believes the general harbors no political ambition should read the full article, which is linked below.

Here are some excerpts (emphasis added).

And that’s what Petraeus’s counter-insurgency theory is: a civil-society strategy for an America that no longer believes we have to defeat our enemies first, that pretends most of our enemies are actually our friends, and that thinks we not only owe the world another Marshall Plan but one that starts in 1944 instead of 1947.

In January, after canvassing opinion from Muslim governments in his area of responsibility, Petraeus sent a team of CENTCOM officials to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As reported by Mark Perry of Foreign Policy, the purpose of that briefing was to underline Petraeus’s “growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The general was doing politics, not combat strategy — and we don’t owe him any deference on politics. In a 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint presentation, Petraeus’s briefers reported, among other things, “that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, [and] that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region.”

...Petraeus is echoing the narrative peddled incessantly by leftists in the government he serves and by Islamists in the countries where he works. According to that narrative, Israel’s plight is not a struggle for survival against immovable foes spurred by an Islamist ideology that must be discredited and defeated. To the contrary, this view holds, it is the result of a mere political conflict. It could be resolved, so the theory goes, if only Israel weren’t so intransigent...

As night follows day, Islamist sympathizers leapt on a statement from CENTCOM’s commander that Israel causes America’s problems. Stephen Walt, the Kennedy School’s reliable Israel-basher (and, many years ago, Petraeus’s faculty adviser at Princeton), quoted the general’s testimony to bolster Walt’s argument that Israel’s policies threaten American security and interests.

And speaking of spin, Petraeus is not encouraging further perusal of his actual words, because that would undermine his revisionist gloss on the testimony. He is now claiming he never meant to suggest that he thinks Israel is intransigent. He was merely relating the “perception” of Israel’s intransigence and of America’s pro-Israel bias. He was merely making the detached observation that this “perception” makes life difficult for the United States in the region. He didn’t mean to imply that the Muslim regimes are right or that the United States should exhibit a more even-handed approach by pressuring Israel to accommodate Palestinian demands. How could anyone think such a thing?

Well, maybe because it’s true. Maybe because the general framed this “cross-cutting challenge” as “insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.” Petraeus is not a disinterested raconteur, nor was he pretending to be one. His purpose was not simply to relate facts dispassionately so that political officials could decide what to make of them. He was there to urge a political point of view: the need for “progress.”

Petraeus, it seems, has found a new friend and kindred spirit: the former senator who, in the darkest hours of crisis in Iraq, publicly branded him a liar...The senator who complained that the general’s testimony defied belief, Hillary Clinton, invited Petraeus to her Washington home shortly before being sworn in as secretary of state. The two of them sat before her fireplace and over drinks tacitly agreed to forget past differences and return their relationship to one of mutual admiration.

To read the entire article, click on the below link.

Petraeus’s Israel Problem - Andrew C. McCarthy - National Review Online

On September 22, 2009, this Blog posted an endorsement of General Petraeus for President. That endorsement is hereby revoked.

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