JINSA Report #: 975
25 March '10
Sometimes it takes a while for a story to come full circle. Last week, we reported (JINSA Report #973) on a ForeignPolicy.com blog that said American military officers in CENTCOM blamed U.S. relations with Israel for American weakness in the region. The ForeignPolicy blog went viral on the web, attracting other "authoritative" statements blaming Israel for American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan-and attributing negative comments about Israel to CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus.
Our take was that American weakness in the region is attributable in some measure to the Saudi and Gulf State belief that the United States will not prevent Iran, their nemesis as well as Israel's, from acquiring nuclear weapons. Although the Saudis do frequently complain about what they call "the Israel problem," it is a way of deflecting their own inability to be strong partners. The rest, we said, was a lie, an opportunity to shred the U.S.-Israel security relationship and label Israel a liability rather than an asset to American military planners.
Speaking in New Hampshire this week, Gen. Petraeus addressed the controversy, beginning with the point that some statements attributed to him personally were, in fact, sentences lifted out of context from a 56-page CENTCOM Strategy Document.
"There's... a statement in [the document] that describes various factors that influence the strategic context in which we operate and among those we listed the Mideast peace process. We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean that is a perception; it is there, I don't think that's disputable. But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it. And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly." He noted other factors listed in the same section of the report, including "a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which, by the way, deny Israel's right to exist. There's a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place...So we have all the factors in there, but this is just one, and it was pulled out of this 56-page document, which was not what I read to the Senate at all."
In response to a question, Gen. Petraeus said he had called Gen. Ashkenazi, the IDF Chief of Staff, and assured him that the web reports were inaccurate.
(Read full report)