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The shocking comeback of David Petraeus is fostered by the ‘NYT’

Media Analysis
on 9 Comments

The New York Times continues to either downplay, ignore, or whitewash Israel’s key role in the Iran crisis.

Here’s the latest example of bias — a long analysis by Max Fisher, “The Interpreter,” headlined (in the print edition yesterday) “Trump’s Iran Strategy Confounds Friends and Foes Alike.” Fisher consults a number of experts but ends up as puzzled as when he started, contending that Trump’s “action fit no clear pattern or long-term strategy.” He cites one expert saying, “There’s not a single person that I’ve spoken to who can tell you what Trump is up to with Iran.” How about Aaron David Miller of Carnegie Endowment, who says Israelis were “somehow involved in this.”

Fisher’s detailed article only mentions Israel once, in passing.

Let’s try some Interpreting of our own: Donald Trump’s strategy is clear. 1) Use war fever to promote Trump’s own reelection. 2) Curry favor with the pro-Israel billionaires who are his 2 biggest donors: gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson and the founder of Home Depot, Bernard Marcus. 3) Help Trump ally Benjamin Netanyahu win the next election in Israel.

Meanwhile, it is disappointing to see retired General David Petraeus appear all over the media, weaseling by refusing to criticize Trump’s assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Petraeus has repeatedly been quoted by the New York Times, for instance, saying of Iranian generals: “These guys are the personification of evil.” Petraeus is an intelligent man who surely knows better. Some years ago, retired colonel Andrew J. Bacevich offered insight into Petraeus in his excellent America’s War for the Greater Middle East. Bacevich, who lost his son Andrew, a young lieutenant, in 2007 during the war in Iraq, is a superbly informed and persuasive critic of U.S. policy in the Mideast. 

Bacevich recognizes Petraeus’s “genuinely prodigious talents.” But he also cautions that the celebrated ex-general’s career shows that he is a master at making the right connections above him in the chain of command and at manipulating the press. Is Petraeus waffling because he hopes to make some kind of comeback? He was ignominiously forced to resign as CIA director in 2012 after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Is that why Petraeus is all over television and the Times, tacitly endorsing Trump’s dangerous escalation with Iran? Meanwhile, Bacevich, now the president of the Quincy Institute, says the U.S. has sown anarchy in the region since 9/11:

[T]he U.S.’ Middle East wars will continue due to the intellectual bankruptcy of the foreign policy establishment, which remains wedded to a highly militarized conception of “American global leadership.”

Why isn’t Colonel Andrew Bacevich on our screens instead?

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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9 Responses

  1. John Douglas on January 8, 2020, 1:27 pm

    Andrew Bacevich is a smart, intellectual and honest man. He writes clearly without regard for what those who disagree think of him or his views. I saw him once on NPR suggest that the US should not use its forces to fight ISIS, but rather should supply regional forces to do it. When pressed about which regional forces, the questioners nearly choked at his suggestion of Iran.

    David Petraeus released classified documents to a woman who was writing his biography and having sex with him. Pride and sex, two noble motives for law-breaking. The press still loves the glamour of the general with a PhD from Princeton.

    • spadepiccolo on January 8, 2020, 7:32 pm

      Hold your applause. I think it was in the American Conservative, Bacevich on a trip to Israel — why, one wonders — voiced his reservations about American Jews volunteering for the Israeli army; nonetheless was sure the Buckeye (I think it was) he spoke to was a “fine upstanding young man.”

      Really, Andrew? Is that what fine upstanding men do, volunteer for foreign occupation armies routinely and credibly accused of committing war crimes?

      As for Petraeus, apparently entire justice department thought he should do jail time. The honey trap was created for people (who look) just like him. (Vanunu was Cary Grant by comparison.) The great Eric Holder said no.

  2. Donald on January 8, 2020, 2:33 pm

    “ Why isn’t Colonel Andrew Bacevich on our screens instead?”

    I assume this is a rhetorical question. The mainstream press is not in the business of presenting a wide range of intelligent viewpoints that might cause people to question what our government does in any serious fundamental way. As Chomsky said, they present a narrow range of views with passionate disagreement within that limited range, so people think they are getting a full picture.

  3. Blake on January 8, 2020, 3:15 pm

    Philip Giraldi paints a very different picture of Andrew Bacevich and the Quincy Institute: https://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/how-israel-controls-its-narrative/

    • StephenKMackSD on January 8, 2020, 6:48 pm

      Blake, thank you for a valuable comment and link. I admire Bacevich , but taking money from Koch and Soros looks like an unbecoming naivete ,or maybe just desperation…! Who can say, but surely each of these backers expect something in return? Or in the Age of Trump has all been turned upside-down?
      Regards,
      StephenKMackSD

    • JWalters on January 8, 2020, 7:23 pm

      It has always puzzled me how Bacevich could write such knowledgeable articles about the Middle East and avoid discussing Israel. By leaving Israel OFF the screen Bacevich is serving Israel.

  4. Misterioso on January 8, 2020, 4:21 pm

    This item brings to mind the following:

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2010/03/14/the-petraeus-briefing-bidens-embarrassment-is-not-the-whole-story/

    “The Petraeus briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story”

    Foreign Policy Magazine, March 14, 2010

    EXCERPT:
    “On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The 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…”

  5. Vera Gottlieb on January 9, 2020, 10:42 am

    Funny and yet not…the pot calling the kettle black.

  6. James Canning on January 9, 2020, 11:10 am

    How many millions of people in the Middle East have had their lives ruined, or even ended, due to the foolish and reckless US invasion of Iraq in 2003? How many trillions of dollars squandered? And Petraeus has been an advocate of hugely expensive US military adventures. Protecting Israel was a core reason for the idiotic American invasion of Iraq.

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