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What Petraeus Really Said About Israel

This is a cross-post from Ben Cohen of the Z-Word blog

Bravo to Philip Klein for giving General David Petraeus the opportunity to clarify the following: one, he never requested that the West Bank and Gaza be added to his remit as Commander of CENTCOM, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq. Two, the perceived pro-Israel slant of US Middle East policy is just one of many strategic factors, and not the only one, which he has to take into consideration (the other factors include, Petraeus said, “a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place.”) Three, that he never made the statement, widely attributed to him, that US policy endangers the lives of American soldiers under his command (“There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.”)

Of all the distortions of Petraeus’s recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, none is more malicious than the linkage of slain American troops to alleged Israeli intransigence. Iranian interference in Afghanistan and Iraq is a clear and present danger, yet invariably ignored by the “Israel Lobby” theorists, simply because it doesn’t fit their twisted narrative. Thankfully, General Petraus is paying attention.

Petraeus’s latest remarks, delivered yesterday at a press briefing in New Hampshire, make a number of commentators look extremely foolish. Among them: the idiotic Philip Weiss, who claimed that Petraeus was effectively endorsing the Mearsheimer/Walt version of how US foreign policy is made; Mearsheimer himself; Robert Wright, whom the New York Times provided with a platform to say that “Biden and Petraeus are right: America’s perceived support of — or at least acquiescence in — Israel’s more inflammatory policies endangers American troops abroad;” Jake Tapper of ABC News, who eleven days ago yelled the question, “does the intransigence of the Israeli government on the housing issue, yes or no, does it put U.S. troops lives at risk?” into the face of a rather worried-looking David Axelrod; and, of course, Hezbollah apologist Mark Perry, whose breathlessly excited piece for Foreign Policy’s blog, subsequently littered with clarifications, started this nonsense in the first place.

Gentlemen, in case you didn’t hear the General, here he is again: “There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.” Your elucidations were, the General said, “based on ‘bad gouges,’ as a sailor would say — bad information.”

Oh, if reading all this is too painful for you, Philip Klein helpfully provides a video: