The Corner

I Guess He Didn’t Get the Memo that Petraeus Didn’t Really Mean It

General David Petraeus’s most ardent fans continue to believe their honey rather than their lyin’ ears. Yet, as I detailed in Thursday’s column, leftists and Islamists have no difficulty grasping that (a) he quite clearly blamed what he portrayed as Israel’s intransigence for America’s woes in the Muslim world, and (b) he has not “set the record straight” in a way that comes close to retracting or debunking his statements. What’s more, they are basing their interpretation on what the general actually said, not the purported “spin” on it that Petraeus – while not retracting — has ascribed to ”bloggers.”

The latest is Palestinian journalist and activist Daoud Kuttab [h/t Ruthfully Yours], who writes:

The taboo was finally broken and the genie is out of the bottle, despite some attempts to force it back. America’s military leaders have had enough and decided to speak out about the liability that a hardline Israel causes to America’s national interest. Popular American General David Petraeus finally said the words that many have been saying behind closed doors for decades. The statement of the star-studded general puts American blind support for Israel in direct opposition to the country’s most sacred institution, the military…. Petraeus has made a courageous statement that could play a key role in weakening the pro-Israel lobby and allow for a much more balanced US approach to the Middle East conflict….

This glowing tribute, it is worth noting, comes two weeks after claims that Gen. Petraeus had walked back his assertion that it is principally the lack of “progress” in resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that strengthens Iran, weakens “moderate” Arab regimes, and drives al Qaeda recruitment. As I noted, in supposedly setting the record straight, Gen. Petraeus made a point of embracing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement of Obama administration policy — which was indistinguishable in any material way from what Petraeus had said in the first place. Moreover, shortly after Petraeus and Clinton made their feelings known, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates chimed in, complaining that “the lack of progress toward Middle East peace is clearly an issue that’s exploited by our adversaries in the region” and “does affect US national security interests in the region.”

In any event, if Gen. Petraeus really does want to set the record straight in a way that reassures supporters of Israel, it is a very simple thing to do. He just needs to say that America’s bias in favor of Israel is not a “perception” but a reality; that it will always be a reality unless and until Palestinians and their Islamist backers unequivocally acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and convincingly foreswear terrorism (aka “resistance”); that until those conditions are met, the United States realizes that there can be no resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; and that, if we are truly to “live our values,” we have no alternative but to favor a Western-style democracy over a would-be Islamist regime that glorifies violent jihadists, endorses sharia principles, and inculcates anti-Semitism in its people through its control of the media, the schools, and other institutions.

I’m not holding my breath. How shameful it is, though, that there should be any question about whether these are the non-negotiable, bedrock principles of American policy.

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