Tuesday, July 06, 2010

General Petraeus’s leaked emails about Israel

Posted by Mehdi Hasan, New Statesman, July 5, 2010

Blogger Philip Weiss has them, and they’re not pretty.

I’ve written the cover story for this week’s New Statesman, on the rise and rise of David Petraeus and America’s “cult of the generals”.

Here’s an extract:

Twelve of the 43 men who have served as US president have been former generals – including the very first occupant of the Oval Office, George Washington. Nonetheless, there has not been a general in the White House since Dwight D Eisenhower, the former Supreme Allied Commander in the Second World War and architect of the D-Day landings, left office in 1961 (ex­coriating the “military-industrial complex” on his way out). But the rise of the generals in recent years, exemplified by the hallowed status of Petraeus, has altered the dynamic. If a general is elected to the White House in 2012 or 2016, the grip of this cult on the US polity will once again have been demonstrated.

Interestingly, in an unrelated story on the supposedly declining power of the Israel lobby in today’s Guardian, the paper’s Washington correspondent Chris McGreal writes:

Senior figures in the American military, including General David Petraeus who has commanded US forces in both wars, have identified Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land as an obstacle to resolving those conflicts.

McGreal is referring to the general’s official “posture” statement on US Central Command – which Petraeus was in charge of, before being redeployed by President Obama to Afghanistan a fortnight ago – in which it says:

The [Israel-Palestine] conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR [Centcom's Area of Responsibility] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.

Petraeus’s prepared statement caused uproar in pro-Israeli circles back in March, when it was published, and some on the right and the left automatically assumed he must be a private supporter of the Palestinians and that he had suddenly and bravely decided to stand up to to the Israel lobby inside the United States.

But guess what? In a gaffe which hasn’t yet attracted the same amount of press as Stanley McChrystal’s bizarre interview with Rolling Stone, Petraeus accidentally leaked an email exchange of his – with the belligerent, neoconservative, pro-Israeli columnist Max Boot – to an activist named James Morris, who then passed it onto blogger Philip Weiss:

Last March General David Petraeus, then head of Central Command, sought to undercut his own testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that was critical of Israel by intriguing with a rightwing writer to put out a different story, in emails obtained by Mondoweiss.

The emails show Petraeus encouraging Max Boot of Commentary to write a story– and offering the neoconservative writer choice details about his views on the Holocaust:

“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…”

Petraeus passed the emails along himself through carelessness last March. He pasted a Boot column from Commentary’s blog into in an “FYI” email he sent to an activist who is highly critical of the U.S.’s special relationship with Israel. Some of the general’s emails to Boot were attached to the bottom of the story. The activist, James Morris, shared the emails with me.

You can read the full details here.

Meanwhile, here’s a taster of Clayton Swisher’s amusing response on the Al Jazeera blog:

It’s not clear what miracles Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel can work for General Petraeus now that he’s the top officer in Kabul.

Based on these emails Petraeus apparently authored, subsequently leaked to blogger Philip Weiss, it seems the former Central Commander thought a private dinner with Weisel and a Holocaust Museum stint might boost his pro-Israel bonafides (“some of my best friends are Jewish!”).

I guess the good general is keener on being the next US president, and not upsetting the Israel lobby in the meantime, than some had assumed.

Post a Comment