The man with the fax machine has declared that Petraeus' recent comments on Israel "[smack] of blaming the Jews for everything.” Yglesias yawns. Meanwhile, back on planet earth, Josh Marshall highlights the unavoidable truths Petraeus said in his prepared remarks to Congress this week:
The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR [CentCom Area of Responsibility]. 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.
In a sense, all of this is no more than commonsense, a given in many conversations about the US position in the world, especially in the arc of Muslim majority nations from the eastern Mediterranean to Indonesia. The continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict directly harms the vital interests of the United States. But if this is the consensus view at the highest levels of the US military, that's a very different world we're living in than the one we've been in heretofore.
What remains to be seen is whether this is a statement not to be acted upon or a strategic analysis that will inform Pentagon policy.
Reality is meeting a lobby. In Washington, that usually means the lobby wins. But this time, we are at war and America's vital interests are at stake. This will be a struggle - but that there is a struggle at all is progress in a way. I'd be more worried if no sparks were flying.