Gen James Mattis on the Strategic Liability

Back in March 2010 when Gen. David Petraeus spoke out about the strategic costs to the US of the ‘special relationship’ with Israel and its role in fomenting anti-American sentiment, Mark Perry noted that this wasn’t the first time a senior US official was deviating from the prescribed view of the alliance. Long before Petraeus, Secretary of State George Marshall and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal had both warned President Harry Truman against recognizing the nascent state of Israel. This sentiment has remained consistent among US strategists over the years, especially among military leaders, despite the best efforts of the Israel lobby. Institutions like JINSA were created specifically to cultivate sympathetic individuals in the higher reaches of the military brass. For the most part these efforts have failed: this is evidenced by the succession of CentCom and Joint Chiefs of Staff chiefs who have baulked at the prospect of attacking Iran. The newest chief of CentCom, Gen. James Mattis doesn’t have the independence of Admiral Fox Fallon but even he has been impelled to admit the burdens the ‘special relationship’ places on Israel. Amir Oren of Haaretz reports:

During an annual briefing Tuesday in the U.S. Congress, Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, head of the Central Command, issued a warning about a continued impasse in the Israel-Palestine conflict. He said that the political awakening in the Arab world has caused regimes in the region to be more attentive than ever to the emotions of their populations. The current stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians, he declared, cannot continue; what is needed is the renewal of an Israeli-Arab drive for peace based on a two-state solution. The non-resolution of the conflict, he added, exacts a “steep price” and complicates the activities of forces under his command.

Mattis’ remarks made a distinct impression on his listeners, particularly in view of the attitude of neglect demonstrated by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other top U.S. officials toward the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process. His comments are also significant in light of his manifestly sympathetic orientation toward the Israel Defense Forces. […]

In his comments, Mattis said that the issue of continuing stalemate on the Israel-Palestinian track comes up in almost every meeting he holds with key leaders in the region. “A peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will foster stable public support among our partners in the region for American initiatives,” Mattis claimed, “and it will reinforce regional cooperation.” He added that such an agreement would also hamper the efforts of extremist groups, saying: “Our obligation to future generations is to do our utmost to solve this vexing problem, which throws oil on the flames of extremist ideologies.”

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

2 thoughts on “Gen James Mattis on the Strategic Liability”

  1. After reading this post, one is left to wonder as to when will American policy makes muster the courage of conviction to work seriously towards a just an comprehensive solution to the enduring Palestinian-Israeli issue? Such a just and comprehensive solution will help put an end to the festering anti-US sentiments throughout the Arab world and beyond. How insane, indeed tragic, that the fundamental strategic and long-term interests of the greatest power in the contemporary world are being allowed to be undermined not only in the Arab world but throughout the Muslim world and beyond by the expansionist policies of Israel that are in violations of both international law and civilized norms. Behind all the hype about Iran’s “presumed” determination to develop atomic capabilities (including an atomic bomb) is Israel’s deliberate attempt to divert attention away from the centrality of the Palestinian issue for stability, security, and democratic development in the Middle Eastern region. How long, and how many American and Arab lives and resources need to be “wasted” before the American public realize that: (a) more and more “delusional” Road Maps can not, and will never be, a substitute for a just solution to the Palestinian tragedy, (b) Israel’s intransigence has been strengthened, rather than weakened, by the seemingly unconditional economic and political support of the successive American administrations at the expense of the American taxpayers, and (c) if it was not for Israel’s occupation and racist policies in the occupied territories, the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims would have the strongest and deepest affinity to the United States and its democratic system and values which are being undermined by the Israel’s lobby and the misguided Christian Evangelical organizations that have become, in effect, more “royalist” or Zionist than the king or Israelis themselves.

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