by Barry Rubin
General David Petraeus is a smart guy, one of the smartest in the
Please note, by the way, that what he actually said is far milder than earlier leaks claimed. In addition, of course, Petraeus has to support White House policy, whatever he really thinks or knows. The Defense Department's recent Quadrennial review, also written to please the White House, contained not one mention of
On the surface this makes a lot of sense. But let's examine it closely. Let's assume there is a comprehensive settlement to which the Palestinian Authority (PA) agrees. It isn't going to happen but this is for demonstration purposes.
In order to get an agreement, the PA would have to make some concessions, let's keep them to the minimum for our discussion. At a minimum, it would have to say that the conflict is at an end, recognize
What would happen?
First, none of this would apply to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Hamas,
Would the kind of people who are now prone to support revolutionary Islamism then say: "What a fair settlement. This settles all our grievances.
While to many Western observers such a reaction would seem logical this is not what would happen. The Western onlooker is assuming a pragmatic, facts-based response rather than an ideological response based on massive disinformation by governments, media, religious leaders, and political movements.
They would say, paraphrasing the words of an ancient Chinese military theorist: The enemy retreats, we advance. They are weak and fearful. The day of victory is near! They would denounce the puppet Palestinian state as a Western lackey. They would redouble their efforts to sabotage the settlement.
Moreover, it would change nothing regarding their goal of overthrowing their own governments.
What about the
Would people in
And if what Petraeus says on this point is true, why aren't the regimes—and the PA, too--doing everything in their power day and night to bring about such a settlement? Why do they just keep repeating: You owe us, it's all your fault. Solve the problem?
Why didn't, say,
BUT WAIT! There's something remarkable here. Why should we assume--as most people remarking on the testimony have--that a "credible" effort means pressuring
Here's Petraeus's second statement:
"Additionally, progress on the Israel-Syria peace track could disrupt
Why would this be so? What does Hamas care about the Israel-Syria track? Why should
Presumably, the subtext here is that
The truth is that
Let's suppose there would be intensive Israel-Syria talks. Would that reduce by one dollar or by one gun the support
Of course, to be fair to Petraeus, he only said "could" disrupt not would disrupt.
Oh and another "Paragraph 17":
Might not progress on the Israel-Syria track require a tougher U.S. stand on Syria so that Damascus would understand that it cannot back Hizballah (disrupting Lebanon) and Hamas (helping to make any Israel-Palestinian peace process impossible) while still getting U.S. concessions. How about,
So perhaps Petraeus could be interpreted in a totally different way.
Yet the telling thing about the kind of points made by Petraeus--at least as they are generally interpreted--is that they are ridiculously easy to puncture. That shouldn't be surprising. These claims have been made repeatedly for decades and have always proven wrong. I wonder if he knows that also.
Like so much said about the Middle East, the two statements by Petraeus analyzed above--at least as they are generally interpreted (yes, the repetition is on purpose) might make sense to someone who wandered off the street into the middle of the movie and who hadn't seen the first hour. Moreover, since there is close to a monopoly in the universities and mass media, where contrary arguments like those I've made above virtually never appear, it is even easier to reach such wrong conclusions.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.