The American Spectator reports that Gen. David Petraeus has "poured cold water" on the controversy caused by reports, later corroborated by testimony he submitted to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, that he views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driving unrest in the Centcom region, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan (and all that that implies for the security of our troops). After first dwelling on a detail of minor importance (that he didn't ask the White House to extend Centcom's jurisdiction to include Israel and the Palestinian Authority), he turned to the crux of the matter, his Senate testimony.
In addition, [Petraeus] explained that the quote that bloggers attributed to his Senate testimony was actually plucked out of context from a report that Central Command had sent the Armed Services committee.
It's called "quoting verbatim," General, not "plucking out of context." Here, as a refresher, is the paragraph in question:
The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to advance our interest in the AOR (Area of Responsibility). Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile Al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab wolrd through its clients, Lebanes Hizbollah and Hamas.
Update: If Gen.Petraeus wanted to repudiate this paragraph and all of its implications, he should have said he wanted to repudiate this paragraph and all of its implications -- not that his statement had been taken out of context. Back to today's comments:
“There’s a 56-page document that we submitted that has a statement in it that describes various factors that influence the strategic context in which we operate and among those we listed the Mideast peace process,” he said.
He listed it first, and among the things he called it, not including "the Mideast peace process," was "Arab anger over the Palestinian question."
“We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean, that is a perception. It is there. I don’t think that’s disputable.
No, it's not disputable. But in 1944, would he as commanding general have reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that a perception of US favoritism for Great Britain presented distinct challenges to advance American interests in the European theater? His own words -- not words second-hand reports attributed to him -- depict Israel as an obstacle to assuaging "Arab anger" -- and assuaging Arab (Islamic) anger is the very heart, as noted here, of his own "hearts and minds" counterinsurgency doctrine. Petraeus continued:
But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it. And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly.”
"Spun it"? Again -- all you have to do is quote it. And unhelpful" to what -- understanding where he's coming from?
Ruth King, writing at Ruthfully Yours, quoting (not spinning) the paragraph in question from Petraeus' testimony (above), said this:
Got that? No getting around this. The general thinks that it is the “conflict” that limits American ability to extend its interests with the Arab/Moslem governments and weakens the legitimacy of the “moderate” regimes in the Arab world. And, according to him even Iran is in a nuclear snit because of the “conflict.”
You see, all those suicide bombers blowing up civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq would stop and join the Boy Scouts if only the “conflict” were settled.
Furthermore, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan (members of the Arab League to which all the Arab “moderates” belong) are also, according to the general’s thinking, conducting their Jihad because Israel just won’t cut a deal with the Arabs by signing a suicide note.
Well, it is all nonsense driven by a desire to placate the oil gusher kingdoms. But then, there is no surprise here. Generals make lousy politicians.
As one prominent conservative commentator put it to me in a recent email (that I quote in this week's upcoming syndicated column):
I would think that Jewish leaders would be appalled by Petraeus's statement ([updated] as if to say, The Jew's are protecting their property with the blood from the bodies of our dead young men !!!) It is about 95% the way to the "blood libel" that, I hate to admit, Christians used in the middle ages against the Jewish people.
Just shocking. Did he understand what he was saying? I wonder.
I wonder, too.