JG: He was screaming against Rumsfeld.
JK: And I was carrying water for the uniformed military against Rumsfeld.
And that's when I really got close to Petraeus and the counterinsurgency
folks. I thought McCain was doing the Lord's work. I still do. Where we
parted company was in the middle of 2006, when I began to believe, as you know,
that we were in the middle of a civil war and that counterinsurgency wasn't
appropriate. There were a lot of other counterinsurgency
experts who agreed with me, including people who were on Petraeus' staff.
And that's when I said, "We gotta get out of this thing."
JG: How do you feel about it now?
JK: You know, when I wrote that, I said, "I really hope this thing
succeeds but I don't think it's gonna." I mean, my feelings have
been unmixed about the work of the American troops throughout. And I think that
Petraeus had a brilliant battle plan, a good part of it was the
counterinsurgency tactics, and he also had several really huge bits of
luck. One was the Anbar Awakening, and he was smart enough to take
advantage of it. I remember when I was in Iraq with him, he was shocked by
it, shocked by how quickly it was moving. You know, another thing was the fact
that restoring peace to Baghdad
was easier because of the ethnic cleansing in a lot of the neighborhoods, and
the third thing is that the Iraqis just really got sick of violence. They
just got really sick of war.
JG: If you believed that Iran
posed an existential threat to Israel,
would you consider that an American national security problem?
JG: Because of the lessons of the Holocaust, as McCain says?
JK: Not just because of the Holocaust, but because of the possibility that
you're going to have a Holocaust. I mean, I don't want to see religious
extremists launching on a democracy anywhere. I don't want to see
hundreds of thousands of Jews and Palestinians killed because of some nutcase.
JG: But you don't believe that that's going to happen.
JK: No! No! I think that that is a really distorted and
kind of crazily extremist position.
JG: But most Israeli politicians, left and right now, seem to be believing that
Iran does pose an
existential threat to Israel's
JK: That's because they fucked up the war in Lebanon. The lesson
here is, don't let an Air Force guy run your military
JG: Let's go back to your response to Foxman. I guess I'm just interested
in your anger. Do you just think that a minority of Jews are giving
people the impression that a majority of Jews think this way about Iran, about Iraq,
about the West Bank?
JK: Exactly. That's part of it, and also that they seem to have the power
to hurt people's careers. I was really angry about what happened with Rob
Malley. You know, it's amazing to be attacked as an antisemite by extremists
who I think are very dangerous. And they seem to think, when you look at
what Pete Wehner said, or what Jennifer Rubin said on their blog a couple of
days ago, "I can't imagine why Time hasn't shut this guy down and fired him and
blah blah blah blah blah." That's what they want to do. They want to
stifle opinions that are different from theirs. I'm certainly not going
to back down.