Curious! Petraeus Uses Hillary’s Word “Unhelpful” Walking Back Assessment of Impact of US/Israel Alliance on Welfare of Troops
Both General Petraeus and Secretary of State Clinton used the mild-mannered adjective “unhelpful” in statements regarding Israel during the past year or so. Yes, in different contexts, but I couldn’t help being startled by the repetition.
Clinton’s use of that, in her case, “reined in” word concerned the 3/2009 demolition of dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. She said it was “unhelpful” to peace efforts . I thought at the time it was an incredibly lightweight word – ironically minimal considering the reality of dozens of homes being razed which was, also, as I understand it, the breaking of international law. She, as the United States Secretary of State, was registering a public objection.
But it was made regarding Israel, so, soon after, I read that she was actually being quite brave -- as brave and careful as she could be. To give credit where credit is due, she also called for a partial lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
From Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars:
Juan Cole warns that Clinton will be attacked by the far-right-wing Israel crowd, and urged people to support her speaking out - in fact, to urge her to use even stronger language the next time.
So this statement rocked the boat among Israeli neocons and many American sympathizers. Notwithstanding Secretary Clinton’s relative courage, I’d surmise the Palestinians still felt “unhelped.”
When I heard that General Petraeus had used that same adjective, “unhelpful”, in regards to another political scenario with Israel, my memory bell went off to Clinton’s situation. In Petraeus’ case, “unhelpful” was targeted not at Israel but at bloggers who considered a statement he’d issued as very bold and mensch-like, seemingly so, in this United States, the leaders of which walk a high, diplomatic tightrope of loyalty as far as Israel is concerned.
Israel’s lobby, AIPAC, has so many “steadfast” cronies in Congress and the administration. How interesting that Petraeus, a most popular and powerful general with the Right, said something so appreciated by many on the Left, frustrated by the over close alliance of the United States and Israel.
Jim Lobe in his 3/17/10 article, Petraeus Confirms Link Between Israel-Palestine and U.S. Security:
March 17, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- In prepared testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, Gen. David Petraeus delivered the message that, as we’ve been writing over the last few days, Mark Parry reported on Saturday. Here’s the money quote:
Insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace. The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The 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 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.
Now to many of us, this is not an earthshaking revelation. But in the AIPAC kool-aid swigging Beltway, it is an “emperor has no clothes” kind of moment.
BUT WAIT ... show’s over! Move along. Nothing to see here ...
General Petraeus is now walking the statement back. Natasha Mozgavaya, Haaretz Correspondent, in her article Petraeus Backs Down:
March 26, 2010 "Haaretz " -- Commander of the U.S. Military's Central Command Gen. David Petraeus phoned his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, this week to deny reports that he had blamed Israeli policy for the failure in a regional solution and for endangering U.S. interests.
Earlier this month, Petraeus warned the Pentagon that "America's relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America's soldiers," in a posting on the Foreign Policy Web site.
In a 56-page report, the Central Command had written: "The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests," the CENTCOM report read.
Petraeus told reporters on Thursday that the report - which he claimed had been taken out of context - had been drafted because: "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," he added. "And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly." [my emphasis]
Sorry, General. Though, rereading your statement, it doesn’t seem anything was taken out of context. For a few seconds there, we thought honesty and forthrightness had come to the U.S. halls of power and were profoundly grateful.
And just in case anyone wondered if the U.S. Congress had grown any you-know-whats since the health care sell out, of course no one has.
Meanwhile, nearly 300 members of Congress have signed on to a declaration reaffirming their commitment to "the unbreakable bond that exists between [U.S.] and the State of Israel", in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The letter was sent in the wake of the severe recent tensions between Israel and the U.S. over the prior's decision to construct more than 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a project it announced during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the region.
As further explained by Pepe Escobar in Obama Squeezed Between Israel and Iran:
Israel rules, Washington follows.
AIPAC arm-twisted members of the US Congress to sign a letter to the White House calling for the US to bypass the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally sanction Iran. And AIPAC also urged lawmakers to pass with no comments the annual US$3 billion US aid to Israel. This means the new made-in-USA F-35 fighter jets Israel buys will be basically financed by US taxpayers.
No surprises here. This is a congress that backed Israel's assault in Gaza in late 2008 and condemned the Goldstone Report on Israeli atrocities in that conflict by a vote of 334 to 36. After all, the Democratic party depends heavily on very wealthy Jewish - and Zionist - donors for a chunk of its budget.
Just one day after Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced the building of 1,600 exclusively Jewish apartments in East Jerusalem (part of a planned, non-negotiable 50,000 which will block it from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state and prevent Palestinian residents of the city from traveling to the West Bank), publicly humiliated US Vice President Joe Biden went to Tel Aviv University and told his audience he is ... a Zionist.
He added, "Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States."
Of course it does not matter that General David "I'm positioning myself for 2012" Petraeus, chief of US Central Command, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the Israeli-Arab conflict "foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel". Even though "perception" may be the understatement of the millennium, as a potential Republican presidential candidate Petraeus knows he will be in deep trouble with the Republican hardcore Christians and with the Christian-Zionist fringe.
One might begin to think that AIPAC’s and Israel’s needs in the minds of our Congress would override the needs of the United States citizenry, including the lives of our soldiers? Congress and the President seem to regard the massive lobbies such as AIPAC as their real constituents, despite their supposedly sacred oaths of duty to us all. The TARP bail out. The new corporation-friendly -- very corporation friendly -- health insurance law.
It feels to me as if Congress just issued Israel a super-sized blank check to do WHATEVER IT CHOOSES with full U.S. backing. Such a vast and near UNCONDITIONAL commitment of support seems .... well, I would like to say it approaches ... treason (?), but let me just go on the record here as calling it “unhelpful”?
In her article, US Lawmakers Stand Up Against Obama for Israel, Hana Levi Julian reveals that The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) published a complete list of the politicians who issued statements in support of Israel.
For whatever it’s worth, they include: U.S. Senate: Republicans: Arizona - John McCain (R-AZ); Kansas - Sam Brownback (R-KS); Nebraska - Mike Johanns (R-NE); Independent; Connecticut - Joe Lieberman (I-CT); Democrats: Maryland - Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), New York - Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Pennsylvania - Arlen Specter (D-PA). U.S. House of Representatives: Republicans: Arizona - John Boozman (R-AR); California - Mary Bono Mack (R-CA); David Dreier (R-CA); Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Florida - Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Connie Mack (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Georgia - Tom Price (R-GA), Ohio - Jim Jordan (R-OH), John Boehner (R-OH), Illinois - Mark Kirk (R-IL), Indiana - Dan Burton (R-IN), Mike Pence (R-IN), Mark Souder (R-IN), Kansas - Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), Oregon - Greg Walden (R-OR), Michigan - Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Texas - John Carter (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Virginia - Eric Cantor (R-VA), Washington - Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Democrats: California – Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Florida - Ron Klein (D-FL), Illinois - Mike Quigley (D-IL), Michigan - Gary Peters (D-MI), New Jersey - John Adler (D-NJ), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), New York - Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Steve Israel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Kevin McCarthy (D-NY), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Nevada - Shelley Berkley (D-NV).
By the way, do you know that the Israeli government provides universal health care to its citizens? I learned this from Ralph Nader’s article entitled Israel & Aid.
In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.
Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter.
The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?
Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.
Considering all this military and economic strength in Israel, why again are we giving Israel $3 billion a year when our own people are struggling and even dying in mutual-agendaed wars with this favored ally, dying from inadequate health care, which deaths, to a great degree, will continue. Also, troubling is the belief that “war with Iran” is on Israel’s “to do” list. Given the enthrallment of our Congress to Israel, it might be seriously on our list, too. The frequent guest talking heads on Charlie Rose seem to regard it as inevitable. I say this with profound dread.
Anyway, maybe if we ask nicely for Israel to put in a good word for us -- the American citizenry – to our ... er ... their U.S. Congress, Israel can help us one day get universal health care, too?