In two posts at Commentary magazine's blog Contentions ("I Make No Apology, Ms. West" and "A Rare Praise for Andrew Sullivan"), Max Boot still hasn't addressed a single point from my analysis of David Petraeus' 1) written Senate testimony 2) spoken Senate testimony or 3) non-denial denial, all of which are in sync with the Arabist outlook that sees Israel at the center of the galaxy of ills that afflict the Middle East region and wider world. Recap below.
Now, however, in order to duck his due admission of nolo contendere, Boot has declared my arguments inadmissable in his"ideological precincts." Like a cop -- or, better -- like a commissar on the beat, Boot is now enforcing thought-purity on the Right. Why? You might think it's because I wuffled his feathers, but his answer is: "I do believe there is a duty to police one’s own ideological precincts...."
Does he now? What is this, New Masses magazine, and I'm Albert Maltz and he's John Howard Lawson? (Look it up, kids.)
After basically calling me a liar for the second time -- all smears, no evidence -- he concludes:
I’ve probably given West and her ilk more attention than they deserve because their work is so utterly inconsequential and uninfluential. But I do believe there is a duty to police one’s own ideological precincts, and because West & Co. claim to be conservatives, I think it is important for conservatives to condemn their extremist rhetoric — as has previously happened with Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and other right-wing embarrassments.
In other words, if you can't beat 'em, smear 'em. Good work, Max.
1) In his written Senate testimony, Petraeus declared that the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel." Frankly, this is a lot like Eisenhower, circa 1943, declaring that a perception of US favoritism toward Great Britain foments anti-American sentiment among Germans. Petraeus continued: "Arab anger over the Palestinian question" -- note the Arabist locution -- "limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the (region) ... and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support."
All "Arab anger" over the "Palestinian question." No Islamic jihad -- never Islamic jihad -- which uses the "Palestinian question" as a weapon of war on the West. When you set military and political strategy to sooth such "Arab anger" (tamp it down, make it stop) you are setting military and political strategy that will further Arab goals. As I have argued (unanswered by Boot), such strategic empathy is the basis for waging our current war for Islamic "hearts and minds" in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the dysfunctional essence of counterinsurgency doctrine which Petraeus is author to (and which, notably, as a sharp-eyed reader recently pointed out, was positively reviewed in the NYT by Samantha Power, the Obama National Security Council member who would like to see US forces deployed to protect the Palestinians from the Israelis -- one sure-fire route to assuaging Arab anger). I hereby declare that COIN strategy should be henceforth known as losing hearts and minds -- our own -- to the Arab-Islamic worldview. This is submission by another name.
2) In his spoken Senate testimony, Petraeus said Israeli-Palestinian "tensions, the issues and so forth ... set the strategic context within which we operate in the Central Command area of responsibility." This is a stunning admission: Petraeus has just revealed that "tensions, the issues and so forth" -- including "Arab anger," of course, as referenced above -- set "the strategic context" for all of Centcom! Pakistan (Kashmir), Iran (designs on Iraq), Yemen (the "Houthi insurgency") Uzbekistan (the Islamic Jihad Union), Iraq (Iraq)... you name it, it's all one big Israeli-Palestinian strategic context. The fantasy-implication is that the whole region would ultimately break out in Rotary Clubs with the establishment of a "peace" with Israel that could end "Arab anger." (Too bad Israel would be visible only under a microscope.) On the contrary, I agree with Swiss politician Oskar Freysinger that when/if Israel goes -- the consequence of any such "peace" -- Europe and the wider West are next.
3) In his non-denial denial, Petraeus didn't "pour cold water" on the controversy, the American Spectator did. Petraeus's comment on his Senate statement was to say it had been quoted out of context and then "spun." In fact, the statement has been quoted verbatim and in toto, no spinning necessary. The statement says what it says and the Centcom commander has neither repudiated nor withdrawn it.