Yesterday we picked up a John Kennedy letter from 1939 warning about the Zionists’ desire to dominate Palestine. Well here’s another important act of historical recovery: Steve Clemons at the Atlantic using Romney’s flipflop on a Palestinian state to remind us that the realists and military men in Truman’s Cabinet opposed the creation of Israel. Clemons thinks it was a good idea to recognize Israel, or that’s what he says, but he acknowledges that it led to “the wars that [George C.] Marshall feared recognition of Israel would ignite.”
That was a theme of the realists and anti-Zionists in the 40s; we will have no end of trouble if you establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Clemons:
As reported in a fascinating historical snippet by the late Richard Holbrooke, who helped organize presidential adviser Clark Clifford‘s papers for a co-authored memoir, then-President Harry Truman overruled George Marshall, the secretary of state he “revered” along with “James V. Forrestal, George F. Kennan, Robert Lovett, John J. McCloy, Paul Nitze and Dean Acheson” and did recognize Israel.
Truman’s was a brave move, and in my view, a correct one — but did lead to the wars that Marshall feared recognition of Israel would ignite. Today, political Islam is on the rise in the Arab region — and the failure of Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab League, Europe, Russia, the United Nations and the United States to achieve peace and the balancing creation of a state of Palestine remains a consequential, bleeding global ulcer…
General Marshall was so disgusted with Truman’s move that he stated in an ultra-secret memorandum that if Truman proceeded on Israel’s recognition, he was going to vote against his boss in the next election. Nonetheless, Truman stood his ground and signed the note of recognition.
One wonders today whether Romney will ignore or listen to generals today — like CIA Director General David Petraeus, former Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, CENTCOM commander General James Mattis, even the incumbent Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey — all of whom agree that establishing and recognizing a state of Palestine is vital to U.S. national security and to defending Israel’s long-term security in the region.
Some notes: The recognition of Israel led in some measure to former Defense Secretary Forrestal’s demise. Attacked in the NY gossips over his personal life and sacked by Truman, he disintegrated, believed himself to be harassed by Zionists, and ultimately committed suicide. This history is well worth recovering.
And as for Holbrooke’s source, Clark Clifford, he was the political adviser who counselled Truman to recognize Israel, in part because of fears about the Jewish vote. There are many Clark Cliffords in our politics today.
Given the destruction of the two-state solution, the ultimate question here is whether it’s in America’s interest to push a democracy in Israel and Palestine. Ultimately, I believe we will have Clemons, and Petraeus and Dempsey, on our side in that struggle.