Leaks from a recent top level briefing by General David Petraeus are causing quite a controversy. The general pointed out that, “Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region.” Mark Perry reported this on March 13 in Foreign Policy. Perry said, “No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue… ”
When I read a statement like that, it’s like hearing the opening music for The Twilight Zone. What on earth is Perry talking about? Every CENTCOM commander, from General Tommy Franks, through Petraeus, has endorsed the continuation of the Iraq war and occupation. That’s as essentially political as you can get.
There was no basis for invading Iraq: no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist threat. Even the flawed October 2, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NEI) admitted that the primary threat of an Iraqi terrorist attack on the United States would come if, “an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge.”
The invasion commenced despite the fact than an invasion was the one scenario described in the NEI that could cause a terrorist attack in the United States. It was a political decision that had nothing to do with the safety of the nation.
Petraeus’ accuracy is undeniable on the impact of the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. U.S. standing is compromised by our ongoing promises to Arab leaders that we’ll deal with the Israel-Palestine conflict while, at the same time, we endorse Israeli settlements in occupied Arab territory by continually turning a blind eye.
But there’s a larger picture to examine.
Let’s see what else impairs U.S. standing and our national interests in the Middle East. How about the continued occupation of Iraq? Then there’s the over one million dead Iraqi’s due to civil strife caused by our invasion. Forty thousand new troops to Afghanistan might have an impact on our standing.
To generalize, U.S. standing in the Middle East is severely compromised by wars of aggression, ongoing occupations, and the expansion of existing war efforts.
This controversy is nothing more than a tactical strike by a military establishment that is tired of dealing with the blowback from our longstanding policies in the Middle East and South Asia. There are policies beyond those toward Israel that harm our interests.
The endorsement and participation in U.S. military acts of aggression form the basis of the problematic policies.
How about a new doctrine to improve U.S. standing everywhere? The United States will engage all foreign governments constructively to assure benefits to our citizens and the citizens of the foreign country. The U.S. will not initiate invasions or efforts to destabilize foreign countries. The U.S. military will protect the citizens of this country but never use its military force to further the financial or other special interests of any individual or group.
That would enhance U.S. standing beyond words and repair the decades of government and private meddling overseas.
As for the current controversy, it should just be ignored or condemned. Petraeus isn’t the first military leader to advance a purely political position. The White House wasn’t hit “like a bombshell” with the Petraeus comments about Israel. And why was Vice President Biden surprised by new Israeli settlements? That’s been going on for decades.
It’s all just theatrics to distract us from the fundamental problem with U.S. foreign policy. Military and diplomatic efforts have been used throughout U.S. history to advance interests of those other than the vast majority of citizens, often times at the expense of those citizens. They benefit, we pay.