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Gen’l Petraeus channels Walt and Mearsheimer

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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The establishment consensus is cracking. A new report by Mark Perry has it that David Petraeus has gotten religion on the Israel/Palestine conflict– as any thinking person with responsibility for American lives in the Middle East does– and is now mainlining the Walt and Mearsheimer realist critique of our foreign policy in the Middle East into the Obama administration, lately, in a briefing to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen that played out in the days after the Biden slap:

The [Petraus] briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) "too old, too slow…and too late." …

[T]wo days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command – or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus’s reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged  in the region’s most troublesome conflict.

The Mullen briefing and Petraeus’s request hit the White House like a bombshell. While Petraeus’s request that CENTCOM be expanded to include the Palestinians was denied ("it was dead on arrival," a Pentagon officer confirms), the Obama Administration decided it would redouble its efforts – pressing Israel once again on the settlements issue, sending Mitchell on a visit to a number of Arab capitals and dispatching Mullen for a carefully arranged meeting with Chief of the Israeli General Staff, Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi. While the American press speculated that Mullen’s trip focused on Iran, the JCS Chairman actually carried a blunt, and tough, message on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that Israel had  to see its conflict with the Palestinians "in a larger, regional, context" – as having a direct impact on America’s status in the region. Certainly, it was thought, Israel would get the message.

Israel didn’t.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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