Palestine Papers: Admiral Mullen says Palestinian state is a U.S. ‘cardinal interest’ after raising troop deaths

General David Petraeus backed away from uttering similar words, but it’s clearly a view that holds wide currency in the U.S. military establishment:  ending the Israel/Palestine conflict is a core U.S. interest that affects the safety of U.S. soldiers.  Haaretz picks up (though they bury it) that U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen echoes the “linkage” argument in a document published by Al Jazeera as part of the “Palestine Papers.”

Notes from a June 16, 2009 meeting quotes chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as saying that Admiral Mullen told Mahmoud Abbas:

You’re the most important person in the Middle East. Arabs and Muslims have only one thing on their mind: Palestine. So, we want to help you establish a Palestinian state… I have 230,000 troops in Iraq & Afghanistan and I am bringing back 10 each week draped in American flags or in wheelchairs. This is painful for America. Because I want to bring them back home, a Palestinian state is a cardinal interest of the USA. Washington today is different from Washington yesterday

This is the realist argument the Israel lobby goes beserk over.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the U.S. at alexbkane.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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{ 41 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. pabelmont says:

    On this argument (Mullen doesn’t want to bring back coffins and THEREFORE needs Palestinian state), two conclusions:
    [1] he must think (unless what he says is garbage) that USA’s wars will last a LONG TIME
    [2] we must all hope that the wars keep going and Obama isn’t induced to shorten them.

    Horrible choice!

  2. “This is the realist argument the Israel lobby goes beserk over.”

    This argument needs to be pushed more! Polls show that the U.S. Military is the one institutions Americans trust the most. Far more than they trust the President, the Supreme Court or let alone Congress.

    If Moralists and Realists make common cause on this issue, the status quo-lobby could be defeated. If I remember, Phil also writes a lot about the alliance between moral and realist argument in this case.

    • Mooser says:

      “Polls show that the U.S. Military is the one institutions Americans trust the most.”

      Oh my God, we are so screwed! I’d almost be frightened if I wasn’t about half-sure the polls you mention were from the Armed Forces.

      • Mooser says:

        “Far more than they trust the President…”

        Who happens to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces?
        Anotherwords, Americans can’t wait to subject themselves to a military dictatorship?

        • Mooser, I respect your skepticism. This poll is from Gallup:

          link to gallup.com

          If it has been established that Gallup is controlled by the military, I haven’t been informed about it.

          That said, of course I think it’s not particularly great that Americans have such a high opinion of their war criminal soldiers.

  3. By Allah, impudent assertions of the blazingly obvious will not be tolerated by the minions of Israel and certainly not go unpunished!

    Hope the Admiral is ready for the [figurative] keelhauling he will soon be undergoing, and has made plans for a retirement which will arrive much soonerthan Admiral mullen expected.

  4. hophmi says:

    “This is the realist argument the Israel lobby goes beserk over.”

    We go berserk over it because it’s lame and stupid.

    Iraq’s problems have nothing to do with Israel. Neither do Afghanistan. Sunnis and Shias do not blow each other up because of Israel. Pashtun extremists do not put women in bondage because of Israel.

    All Admiral Mullen is doing is pandering. And if he really believes what he says, then he’s been taken in by yet another attempt by the Arab and Muslim world to blame their problems on anyone but themselves. Focusing on Israel while their own societies remain characterized by tyranny, backwardness, gender inequality, and lots of other problems is an Arab and Muslim disease, not an Israeli one.

    • Shingo says:

      We go berserk over it because it’s lame and stupid.

      Realy Hophmi?

      Rice: US army presence in Iraq protects Israel
      link to jpost.com

    • tree says:

      “This is the realist argument the Israel lobby goes beserk over.”

      We go berserk over it because it’s lame and stupid.

      So you consider yourself part of the Israel Lobby?

      Iraq’s problems have nothing to do with Israel.

      Iraq’s problems are overwhelmingly the result of our invasion, which was done in the interests of Israel. Afghanistan is purely our own doing. However, as Mullen points out, our unthinking and unjust support for Israel’s massive and ongoing mistreatment of the Palestinians undermines whatever small attempts we might make to “win hearts and minds”. Of course our own callous actions do that as well.

      Mullen’s point is not that the Arab world is blaming all its problems on Israel, which they are not. His point is that as long as we continue acting as a dishonest broker of peace and enabler of Israeli injustice towards the Palestinians, we will be hated in the Arab world. And that hatred will cost American lives.

      • hophmi says:

        “Iraq’s problems are overwhelmingly the result of our invasion, which was done in the interests of Israel.”

        It was done in the interests of the United States, the world economy, and oil security. You can’t argue that it was done for Israel’s benefit, and argue that it wasn’t in Israel’s benefit because of Iran at the same time. They’re opposing arguments. Pick one.

        “our unthinking and unjust support for Israel’s massive and ongoing mistreatment of the Palestinians undermines whatever small attempts we might make to “win hearts and minds”. ”

        Sure, the Arabs would like you to believe that. But it’s a load of nonsense. We don’t win h+m in the Arab world because Al Jazeera broadcasts bloody images of dead Iraqi and Afghani civilians all the time.

        That Israel has anything to do with Arab hearts and minds is one of the great modern myths.

        • tree says:

          You can’t argue that it was done for Israel’s benefit, and argue that it wasn’t in Israel’s benefit because of Iran at the same time. They’re opposing arguments. Pick one.

          You aren’t making sense.What a surprise. No one has made opposing arguments except you.

          Sure, the Arabs would like you to believe that. But it’s a load of nonsense. We don’t win h+m in the Arab world because Al Jazeera broadcasts bloody images of dead Iraqi and Afghani civilians all the time.

          That Israel has anything to do with Arab hearts and minds is one of the great modern myths.

          So your point here is that broadcast of bloody images of dead Iraqis and Afghanis affects Arab hearts and minds, but bloody broadcasts of Palestinian dead has no effect on Arab hearts and minds. Once again Israel is a special case and no one in the Arab world cares about dead Arabs if Israel is the one doing the killing.

          But then here you make the opposite argument:

          And if he really believes what he says, then he’s been taken in by yet another attempt by the Arab and Muslim world to blame their problems on anyone but themselves. Focusing on Israel while their own societies remain characterized by tyranny, backwardness, gender inequality, and lots of other problems is an Arab and Muslim disease, not an Israeli one.

          So you are making two contradictory arguments. Israel has nothing to do with Arab hearts and minds and it has everything to do with them. You are just wildly throwing things against the wall and hoping one of them sticks. It might be a good lawyers trick, bu it doesn’t speak well of your thought processes.

        • Shingo says:

          You can’t argue that it was done for Israel’s benefit, and argue that it wasn’t in Israel’s benefit because of Iran at the same time. They’re opposing arguments. Pick one.

          Otcomes do not disprove the agenda Hophmi. And don;t tell us what we can and cannot argue. Condi said it herself.

        • syvanen says:

          Hophni, the evidence is absolutely overwhelming — it was israel and israel lobby that pushed us into the Iraq war. I suggest you go back and read the chapter in the Walt and Mearshiemer book if you want to see the evidence. Look at their references to that chapter. Though I thought I had a reasonably good under standing for why we invaded Iraq, I was completely overwhelmed with the evidence these authors assembled. This chapter has never been refuted.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “And if he really believes what he says, then he’s been taken in by yet another attempt by the Arab and Muslim world to blame their problems on anyone but themselves. Focusing on Israel while their own societies remain characterized by tyranny, backwardness, gender inequality, and lots of other problems is an Arab and Muslim disease, not an Israeli one.”

      What a load of racist garbage (or are you suggesting that you’d be fine with someone talking about “Jewish diseases”??) If you don’t think that the Arab and Muslim world doesn’t see the fact that the US is an enabler of the Israeli crimes, and that fact hasn’t affected the manner in which US troops are treated overseas, you are a fool. To suggest otherwise is to ignore basic human nature.

      Too many Zionists seem to be content in protecting their racist ideology at the expense of US military blood. Good for Adm. Mullen for recognizing it. Too bad the Zionistas have an Alien face-hugger lock on American foreign policy.

      • hophmi says:

        “What a load of racist garbage”

        Save it. I’m not moved. These are all problems in the Arab world and in Muslim countries, including the blame game, and plenty of liberal Arabs and Muslims will tell you so.

        My credentials as a fighter against Islamophobia are solid.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “My credentials as a fighter against Islamophobia are solid.”

          LOL. I’ve no doubt you think highly of yourself. But the proof is in the pudding.

        • tree says:

          These are all problems in the Arab world and in Muslim countries, including the blame game, and plenty of liberal Arabs and Muslims will tell you so.

          The same thing could be said about the Jewish world, including the blame game, and plenty of liberal Jews will tell you so. So what? Its not a “disease” when Muslims do it, nor is it a “disease” when Jews or Christians do it. Its human nature. Your problem is you excuse human nature when it manifests itself among Jews but consider it a “disease” when the very same thing happens among other humans.

        • JanetB says:

          Just a hint hophmi when you use the phrase “Arab and Muslim disease” to describe the social problem of 300 million people it pretty much indicates that you are a Islamophobic Arab hating racist.

        • Taxi says:

          Hey hophmi,

          At least the Arab countries, even under horrid dictatorships, are not practicing Apartheid like israel is.

          Yeah there’s a very thin line between the evils of the leaders of dictatorships and the evils of the leaders of Apartheid.

          In my books, Apartheid is more evil. At least I can walk around a street under a dictatorship and successfully hide my thoughts; whereas in an Apartheid state, I wouldn’t be able to hide the color of my skin while walking around.

          And having visited both israel as well as a handful of Arab countries, hands down I prefer Arab countries, their people, their hospitality, their sweetness AND their humus.

        • Are you joking Taxi.

          You are aware that 400,000 Palestinian refugees residing and born in Lebanon for three generations, have no citizenship of any state.

          At least Jerusalem Palestinians have the offer of Israeli citizenship AND of Jordanian.

          And, I really can’t imagine why you continue to ignore the intent of 1948 ethnic cleansing (succeeded) of Jews from the West Bank. There was no apartheid there because they just removed them all.

        • Mooser says:

          “My credentials as a fighter against Islamophobia are solid.”

          Ah! So that’s why you comment under a pseudonym!

        • yonira says:

          The color of your skin? what world do you live in Taxi, Israel has people of all colors. You hate Israel and this is the basis of all your arguments.

        • Taxi says:

          So you prefer to live under an Apartheid system then Richard?

          Cuz over here in the you-ess-of-A, we already live under a benign corporate dictatorship, and we’re kinda comfortable-ish with it, it seems for the time being.

          Yet you prefer to live in an America that practices Apartheid?

          (please don’t respond with answers that have anything to do with jerusalem and wb etc. – stick to the point and give us your analytical comparisons between Apartheid and Dictatorships. Tell us why you think it better to live under Apartheid).

        • eljay says:

          >> I really can’t imagine why you continue to ignore the intent of 1948 ethnic cleansing (succeeded) of Jews from the West Bank. There was no apartheid there because they just removed them all.

          Aw, c’mon, they probably “held their noses” and did what they considered “necessary” for what they considered to be “a good in the world”. And, thankfully, the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank is “currently not necessary”.

          I know for a fact that you, of all people, understand and approve of that sort of thing.

        • Taxi says:

          yonira you know i love israel as much as you love, well, Apartheid, right?

          And I’d love to see your little disappointed face when you go taking your Native American Indian girlfriend to live in israel and discover for yourself that her value degradation in the job market and her low wages are due completely to the color of her skin and not because of the affections she may or may not hold towards israel.

          And oh right yeah I live in a Beniton world, for sure. Et toi?

        • I do approve of reconciliation and restoration of human rights, and note that they only happen together.

          They don’t happen in sequence. That the PA has already made that jump, as indicated by the Palestine Papers, gives me hope.

        • pjdude says:

          people like you always gain hope when people through away their rights and give into fear

  5. Les says:

    This reads like Ethan Bronner but is actually from a Jerusalem Post editorial.

    But there is also a tragic aspect to the PaliLeaks controversy.

    Instead of at least being appreciated by their own people as savvy negotiators constructively working toward the achievement of Palestinian political sovereignty and self-determination, Abbas, Saeb Erekat, Ahmed Qurei and others involved in 2008 talks with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and former prime minister Ehud Olmert have been castigated by the Palestinian street as traitors. Scrambling to defend themselves, PA officials have alternately denied the veracity of the leaked documents and claimed that they are being publicized as part of a “conspiracy” designed to discredit the PA.

    link to jpost.com

    • hophmi says:

      “Instead of at least being appreciated by their own people as savvy negotiators constructively working toward the achievement of Palestinian political sovereignty and self-determination, Abbas, Saeb Erekat, Ahmed Qurei and others involved in 2008 talks with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and former prime minister Ehud Olmert have been castigated by the Palestinian street as traitors. ”

      Actually, I think the proportion of Western activists calling them traitors is higher than the proportion of the Palestinians themselves calling them traitors. Let’s be honest. These negotiators work for two states. Western pro-Palestinian activists work for one state, which is closer to the Hamas vision.

      • Jim Haygood says:

        ‘These negotiators work for two states. Western pro-Palestinian activists work for one state, which is closer to the Hamas vision.’

        The Palestinian negotiators work for two states, you mean. The intransigent Israeli negotiators seemed to be working for the status quo of endless occupation.

        Israel looks to be using the classic carrot and stick approach: sign our harsh West Bank surrender terms (the carrot), or you could end up imprisoned and hogtied like Gaza (the stick).

        This is why Israelis so deplore the Egyptian uprising. In a trice, if a liberated Egypt throws open the Rafah crossing, Israel’s complacent, tyrannical dream of a Hundred Year Siege of Gaza (until the last Hamas nonagenarian croaks) goes poof like a lanced bubble.

        What also keeps Israelis awake at night is that the same generation gap which Philip Weiss writes about in America — younger Jews who decline to toe the zionist line — is on display in the Islamic world too. The early days of popular revolt there were channeled into Islamist parties, because the mosque was the only parallel pole of authority to the state. But a younger, wired generation has seen that the Koran-thumping approach led nowhere, and is adopting a more universal, secular appeal. Oh, no-o-o-o-o! Big trouble!

        Israel’s hasbara line reflexively reverts to ethnocentric, crypto-racist, Jewish supremacist appeals. That’s no way to win friends and influence people! It’s not universal, it’s not inclusive; quite the opposite. And the ‘middle east’s only democracy’ slogan has to be soft-pedaled, when both the Knesset and the US Congress instinctively support the expensively-bribed Egyptian dictator because he’s ‘good for Israel.’ This isn’t a sales pitch that resonates outside a tiny global market share. Whereas human liberation from oppression is a meme that everyone from Alexandria to Almaty can grok and cheer on.

        America’s brittle Islamic empire of compliant dictators and outright military occupations is like a middle eastern analogue of the Soviet Union’s eastern European COMECON. Trouble is that, as in eastern Europe in 1989, the oppressed populace is downing tools and revolting.

        I’m stocking up on fireworks, weed and champagne to celebrate the toppling of this obsolete, ossified monument to tyranny. Free Egypt! Free Gaza! Free America (from the Lobby)!

  6. MHughes976 says:

    It’s a bit hard to know what Mullen meant – and in one respect he was clearly wrong in that he seemed to be encouraging the PA to think that there would be a change in American policy, which we see has not happened in the least. If he thought that the Muslim world would be happy with Western power in its midst if only there were a Palestine on the map I think he was deluding himself. If he just wants to get Western armed forces right out of the ME you would think that a Palestine settlement would not be essential – we could just go anyway. He might be implying that there is an Israeli veto on withdrawal until Palestine is settled, but I don’t really think he means that – and then if there is a veto there’s no guarantee that Israel would stop vetoing just because there were some new lines on the map.
    Does American public opinion really, in its heart rather than just in words to pollsters, trust its armed forces more than its elected leaders? That would be a very unstable and dangerous state of affairs.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      I think what Mullen means is that if there was a Palestinian state, the issue of the murder of Palestinians by the Israelis, and the fact that Uncle Sucker aids and abets those Israelis, wouldn’t be there to further motivate the Arabs in the lands occupied by the US troops to want to kill those US troops.

      Though this complaint should really be lodged with the murderers and their supporters in NY and DC, and not the victims, but that’s Zionist politics for you…

    • Shingo says:

      Fabulous post Jim. Strong, Concise and very entertaining.

      Everything that a Witty post isn’t.

  7. annie says:

    from the “Notes from a June 16, 2009 meeting quotes ”

    We told him that the element to make or break your strategy is Israel. People will judge you by what they see in the West Bank and Gaza – not based upon what you say. Treating Israel as a country above the laws of man will bring 500,000 US soldiers to the region because it will go down as a failed state. We’ve recognized Israel’s right to exist. We’re against settlements, checkpoints, and incursions.

    (my bold, their italic)

  8. RoHa says:

    But Israel is a vital ally of the US in the region!
    Unconditional US support of Israel helps the US with something or other, doesn’t it?

  9. yourstruly says:

    Lament of a Diehard Zionist

    oh no, it can’t be so

    that the settler-state’s intransigence re: the mideast conflict costs the lives of american soldiers

    because if it were true

    I’d be a traitor

    for putting the settler-entity’s interests before those of my own country, the u.s. of a.

    something which, if widely known,

    could come back to haunt me

    (like having to make a choice as to which country to live in)

    or worse

    so best I deny what the brave and patriotic admiral said

    over and over again

    no connection between israel’s killing palestinians and afghans killing u.s. troops

    no connection, no connection, no connection whatsoever

    none at all

    but still, will that save my ass?

    settler-entity aficianado that i am?

  10. Alex,
    Do you hold that ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are what you support?

    That is what Admiral Mullen supports. That is fundamentally different from what bi-national advocates propose, including the prominence of that theme in the BDS movement.

    It is what Goldberg referred to as justifiable even in the article that Phil just trashed.

    Hard to know what you actually advocate for.

  11. irishmoses says:

    Re MHughes976:

    The point of the linkage argument is not that the unresolved I-P issue is the sole cause of Islamic extremism, but rather that it is a major cause. Bill Clinton and others say it is the biggest cause and at least 50 percent of the problem. This view is reflected in the 9-11 report, the Iraq Study Group report, in the Patraeus memo and now in Mullen’s statement. Not resolving the I-P issue is making it much harder for us to fight Islamic extremism because it is such a great recruiting tool and source of unrest among the Muslim masses. If, as Bill Clinton says, it is 50 percent of the problem, then half of all military and civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are directly attributable to Israel’s refusal to solve this problem.

    What’s interesting is that Mullen set up the meeting with Arekat and then made the statement about how important the Palestinians are to American interests in the region. This was 7 months before the Patraeus statement and report he sent to Mullen in early 2010 (per the Matt Perry FP article). So it shows Mullen (and perhaps much of the brass) were already well aware of the problem being caused by the ongoing I-P issue on the war on terror.

    I think Mullen met with Arekat because he wanted to encourage him and was hoping that Obama would be able to actually solve the I-P issue. We were all optimistic back then. Now, 18 months later its all a shambles. It would be nice if Mullen (unlike Patraeus) had the moral courage to speak out about this. After all, it affects his troops who are being maimed and killed in good part because of this unresolved issue.

    Gil Maguire
    http://irishmoses.com