Is Petraeus Going Native?

Wednesday, 30 Jun 2010 10:54 PM

By Frank Gaffney

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It was bad enough when, two months ago, word got around that U.S. Central Command’s commanding general, David Petraeus, had embraced the meme that Americans were being killed in his theater of operations because Israel had refused to make peace with its Palestinian enemies.

Now comes word that elements within his command – including many of its “senior officers” and “intelligence personnel” – believe the United States should abandon its longstanding policy of “isolating and marginalizing” Hamas and Hezbollah.

According to an article entitled, “Red Team: CENTCOM thinks outside the box on Hamas and Hezbollah” by Mark Perry published today online by Foreign Policy magazine, a Red Team at Central Command is recommending “a mix of strategies that would integrate the two organizations into their respective political mainstreams.” The justification for treating these designated terrorist organizations as though they were part of the solution is to be found in the following, astounding remarks by unidentified CENTCOM officers:

“Putting Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida in the same sentence, as if they are all the same, is just stupid,” [one] said. “I don't know any intelligence officer at CENTCOM who buys that." Another mid-level SOCOM [Special Operations Command] officer echoed these views: “As the U.S. strategy in the war on terrorism evolves, military planners have come to realize that they are all motivated by different factors, and we need to address this if we are going to effectively prosecute a successful campaign in the Middle East.”

The contention that Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida are “motivated by different factors” is pure Brotherhood taqqiya – dissembling for the faith. Its embrace by anyone, let alone by intelligence personnel and senior military officers, constitutes an appalling dereliction of the “professional duty to know” the facts.

The reality is that all these groups absolutely, positively are the same in one respect, at least: They all share a commitment to the theo-political-legal-military program authoritative Islam calls Shariah.

As adherents to Shariah, they are all pursuing the same goal: the global triumph of Shariah under a theocratic Caliphate. Their tactics may differ from time to time, depending on circumstance. But what is really “stupid” is the notion that such differences or even structural differences actually preclude these groups and many others promoting Shariah (notably, the Taliban) from being kindred spirits – and unalterably our enemies.

Further evidence of the defective nature of the CENTCOM Red Team analysis can be found in the emphasis it reportedly places on “a quote from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, stating that if Lebanon and Iran's interests ever conflicted, his organization would favor Lebanese interests.” According to Perry, the Red Team concluded that “Hezbollah's activities increasingly reflect the movement's needs and aspirations in Lebanon, as opposed to the interests of its Iranian backers.”

The notion that Hezbollah can be weaned from its client relationship with Tehran – either on the basis of appeals to its nationalist ardor or because of Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan’s stated willingness to engage with its so-called “moderate elements” – is unsubstantiated by any material facts. Random quotes, particularly those cited out of context, are of course not at all the same thing as an established pattern of behavior on Hezbollah’s part that demonstrates the proxy’s actual independence from its Iranian masters. No such pattern can be discerned. The same dependency on Iran is operating with Hamas, as well, to say nothing of Syria.

These inconvenient facts notwithstanding, the Red Team is said to have recommended that the United States government open direct negotiations with Hezbollah and that they “be pursued again with the same vigor that peace talks in Northern Ireland were pursued.” The Team goes on to note that, “As the U.S. took the lead with peace talks in Northern Ireland, the British could take the lead with unity talks between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Hezbollah in Lebanon.” Never mind that the difference between Northern Ireland and Lebanon is the IRA was thoroughly defeated by the British in the former. In the case of the latter, Hezbollah would clearly be perceived as the victor.

The Red Team’s views with respect to Hamas are equally inane. According to Perry: “The report argues that an Israeli decision to lift the siege might pave the way for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, which would be ‘the best hope for mainstreaming Hamas.’” As though the object of U.S. policy should be to facilitate Hamas’ domination of the entire Palestinian proto-polity.

Even more instructive was the following line by Perry: “The Red Team also claims that reconciliation with Fatah, when coupled with Hamas's explicit renunciation of violence, would gain ‘widespread international support and deprive the Israelis of any legitimate justification to continue settlement building and delay statehood negotiations.’” Indeed, delegitimation of Israel seems pretty much to be the Red Team agenda – a nation that has been and remains a key ally of what one would hope remains the Blue Team: the United States of America.

Particularly alarming is Perry’s assertion that, “There's little question the report reflects the thinking among a significant number of senior officers at CENTCOM headquarters – and among senior CENTCOM intelligence officers and analysts serving in the Middle East.” Add into the mix the controversial views previously espoused by Gen. Petraeus and you have a significant military organization that seems fully prepared to throw Israel under the bus.

If there is any glimmer of good news in Mark Perry’s portrayal of the leaked Red Team analysis it is that, even though “There is a lot of thinking going on in the military and particularly among intelligence officers in Tampa [the site of CENTCOM headquarters] about these groups,” according to an unnamed senior CENTCOM officer familiar with the report, “senior military leaders are [not] actively lobbying Barack Obama's administration to forge an opening to the two organizations. ‘That's probably not in the cards just yet,’ he said.”

The bad news is that, given the determination of the Obama administration to isolate and undermine Israel, it is not clear that much “active lobbying” on the part of Central Command will be necessary to egg it on. But the political cover provided by General Petraeus, or at least by his CENTCOM staff, will surely come in handy for Team Obama when the chickens of the war that such policies will inevitably encourage come home to roost.

Welcome to Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu.

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