As conveyed by reporter Mark Perry, General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in the Middle East, in January, sent a team from US Central Command (CENTCOM) to the Pentagon, to brief the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. This briefing consisted of explicit concerns expressed by Petraeus himself. Perry writes:
The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that envoy George Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) "too old, too slow ... and too late."
Perry calls the briefing "unprecedented." He declares, "No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue."
On instruction from Petraeus, the military team conferred with senior Arab leaders. Perry reports:
"Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling," a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. "America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding." But Petraeus wasn't finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command -- or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations.
Didn't you always think that this area was well, sort of, kind of part of Petraeus's operations? (As it turns out, the paper was actually sent to Mullen; it is assumed that it was forwarded to the White House.)
Apparently, Petraeus thought it a sensible idea, since US troops are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the US appear to Arab leaders to be "engaged" [as opposed to being a puppet?] "in the region's most troublesome conflict," i.e., Israel-Palestine.
Given the fact of the thousands of American soldiers who have already dropped like flies throughout this pointless atrocity, Vice President Biden's angry retort to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, upon learning that Israel will be constructing new housing in East Jerusalem, is pitifully weak. As reported in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Biden wailed, "This is starting to get dangerous for us." Starting to get dangerous? I think most would agree that we're well past the danger point for over 4,000 dead soldiers and tens of thousands of limbless and blind ones. What tough talk from Biden to the man who is really in charge of things. And, Biden dared to continue, "What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan."
According to Yedioth Ahronoth:
"The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel's actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism."
Perry writes: "The message couldn't be plainer: Israel's intransigence could cost American lives."
Perry seems to harbor the hope that the US military, which he calls the country's most "powerful lobby," can assert itself above all those other lobbies with which we're so familiar, and deliver Petraeus's message. Perry interprets that message as a "stark warning," that is: "America's relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America's soldiers."
Far more likely, instead of the assertion of American power, we shall witness yet another round of groveling, bootlicking politicians offering grand apologies for a "misunderstanding," as everything falls back into place again and returns to business as usual ... and our soldiers go on dying.
Suddenly the 'special relationship' is… embarrassing, by Philip Weiss
Israel is putting American lives at risk, by Paul Woodward
The Poodle Gets Kicked [Biden, that is], by Pat Buchanan
Humiliating America, by Eric Margolis
Israel First? by Joe Klein