Petraeus Careful on Israel
Petraeus also deeply values his relationship with prominent neoconservatives who have received extraordinary access to war zones – personally arranged by the general – in exchange for their service to him as his cheering section in influential Washington opinion circles.
A couple of e-mails that Gen. Petraeus inadvertently sent to an unintended recipient confirmed his cozy relationship with hard-line neocon Max Boot, as Petraeus begged Boot to head off any suggestion that Petraeus was less than 100 percent supportive of Israel.
The e-mails from Petraeus to Max Boot revealed the four-star general renouncing his own congressional testimony in March 2010 because it included the observation that “
the enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests” in the Middle East.
Petraeus’s testimony continued, “Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. … Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons, Likud Conquer DC, Again.”]
Though Petraeus’s testimony might strike many of us as a no-brainer, not so for the neocons. They resist any suggestion that Israeli intransigence regarding peace talks on Palestine contributes to the dangers faced by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or by the American people from possible acts of terrorism at home.
So, when Petraeus’s testimony began getting traction on the Internet, the general quickly turned to Boot, a writer based at the high-powered, establishment Council on Foreign Relations, and began backtracking on the testimony.
“As you know, I didn’t say that,” Petraeus said, according to one e-mail to Boot timed off at 2:27 p.m., March 18, 2010. “It’s in a written submission for the record.”
In other words, Petraeus was trying to demonstrate his orthodoxy by emphasizing that the comments were only in his formal written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee and were not repeated by him in his brief oral opening statement.
In another e-mail, as Petraeus solicited Boot’s help in tamping down any controversy over the Israeli remarks, the general ended the message with a military “Roger” and a sideways happy face made from a colon, a dash and a closed parenthesis, — to boot!
The unintended recipient explained that he received the exchange by accident when he sent a March 19, 2010, e-mail congratulating Petraeus for his testimony and Petraeus responded by forwarding one of Boot’s blog posts that knocked down the story of the general’s implicit criticism of Israel.
Petraeus forwarded Boot’s blog item, entitled “A Lie: David Petraeus, Anti-Israel,” which had been posted at the Commentary magazine site at 3:11 p.m. on March 18. However, Petraeus apparently forgot to delete some of the other exchanges between him and Boot at the bottom of the e-mail.
The e-mails also reveal Petraeus brainstorming with Boot regarding how to finesse the potential controversy over the Senate testimony. At 2:37 p.m. on March 18, Petraeus asks Boot, “Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?! And that I will be the speaker at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in mid-Apr at the Capitol Dome [?]”
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