"As You Know, I Didn't Say That ... "
Petraeus, Palin, Boot and the Power of Israel
By GARY LEUPP
Dec. 2009: on orders from Gen. Petraeus, then Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). a team of military officers tours the Middle East, interviewing senior Arab leaders who tell them that U.S. inability to force Israel to end settlements is making the U.S. look weak and also spreading anti-American feeling throughout the region.
July 2: Weiss posts his article.
Now, what---if the story’s true---does all this tell us? It seems to me it indicates the following:
(1) Petraeus genuinely believes that Israeli actions threaten what he sees as U.S. interests in the region, and endanger U.S. troops;
(2) he doesn’t want to say this too loudly or want the voting public to think about this;
(3) he wants to run for president, and to position himself against Palin;
(4) there are people in the State Department (like Gfoeller) who’d like to help him do that; (5) he’s deeply concerned about the Jewish vote (Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?! );
(6) he has a close relationship with Boot, whom you notice, doesn’t bother to call him “Sir;” and
(7) he’s indiscreet in handling his email correspondence.
The people fighting the 94,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan are mainly Pashtun nationalists energized by jihadist Islam. They’re not much interested in Israel-Palestine which is very far away but when they hear about the plight of the Palestinians it probably increases their anger at the invaders. In that sense, the close U.S.-Israeli partnership may indeed threaten their lives. Maybe the troops ought to know that a general who believes that (but doesn’t want to say so out loud) is now leading them.
Oh, and could some journalist ask about this at the next Defense Department news briefing?
March 18: M. J. Rosenberg writes a piece entitled “On The Middle East: It’s Palin vs. Petraeus & New Poll” posted on the Political Correction blog of the Media Matters Action Network in which he praises Petraeus’s views on Israel/Palestine. He notes that Petraeus is spoken of as a Republican candidate for President and contrasts his views with those of Palin.
March 18, 2:18: Michael Gfoeller, a State Department Policy Advisor serving CENTCOM forwards Rosenberg’s story to Petraeus with the subject line: “FW: On the Middle East: It’s Palin vs Petraeus.” His message is short: “Sir: FYI. Mike.”
2:27: Petraeus forwards the story to Commentary’s Boot, stating: “As you know, I didn’t say that. It’s in a written submission for the record...” He means that the above-quoted Congressional testimony wasn’t in his oral remarks but in the 56-page document, plainly entitled “Statement of General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army Commander, US Central Command before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the posture of US Central Command, 16 Mar 2010.”May: Morris shares the emails with Philip Weiss of the MONDOWEISS (War of Ideas in the Middle East) blog. http://mondoweiss.net/about-mondoweiss (This is affiliated with The Nation magazine). Weiss overlooks it at the time.
[For more on Max Boot, one of the stupidest and most opportunistic of all right-wing commentators, see Nikolas Kozloff’s 2008 piece on the CounterPunch website. AC/JSC]