Over at National Review Online, Andrew C. McCarthy has written a judiciously authoritative overview of the Petraeus-Israel controversy, which occupied this blog in recent weeks, particularly as it became an exploration into the mindset of denial as exemplified by the writings of Max Boot (encapsulated here; more here). Andy weighs in on that aspect of the story as well. Indeed, he opens with it, writing:
Max Boot is a good historian. On Islam, I often disagree with him, finding in his work the wishful thinking common among Islamic Democracy Project enthusiasts. Still, he is thoughtful and civil, so one always expects to learn something from reading him. It was therefore jarring to read his smug attempt to drum Diana West out of the conservative movement. Boot seems to see himself as William F. Buckley Jr. and West as the John Birch Society. If you’re going to play that game, you’d better be right. Boot is dead wrong.
Boot’s attack on West is an effort to defend a surpassingly foolish statement in which Gen. David Petraeus cast Israel as the source of all America’s woes in the Middle East. To his great discredit, the general — in a Clintonesque fashion which, as we shall see, is probably not a coincidence — simultaneously denied making the statement, grudgingly admitted making it while minimizing its significance, and accused West and others of misrepresenting his views. In fact, the general’s critics quoted his words at length, placed them in unmistakable context, and drew from them the same commonsense conclusion drawn by Israel’s gleeful critics — for whom Petraeus is the hero of the moment.
The irony, of course, is that Petraeus is also the hero of the age for neoconservatives, some of Israel's staunchest proponents. Indeed, Petraeus is to be honored at ceremonial dinners this spring at AEI and Commentary magazine (whose blog featured Boot's Petraeus posts), both organizations known for their support for Israel as America's most dependable and capable ally. Petraeus, as Andy concludes after examining the general's statements and other evidence, does not share this perspective-orienting point of view. Indeed, he is a proponent of the Arabist outlook that sees the problems of the Middle East emanating from Israel's so-called intransigence, which in the Arab-Islamic lexicon all too often a euphemism for existence.
Will Petraeus' boosters on the Right ever reckon with this reality?
They at least have a chance if they read Andy's piece, posted here in its entirety.