Global, Israel, Politics

McPeak Strikes Back

I saw this over at Marc Ambinder’s Blog:
Gen. Merrill A. “Tony” McPeak (ret.), a foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama, has responded to his critics.

In 1976, then Col. McPeak published an essay in Foreign Affairs entitled “Israel: Borders and Security,” where he argued that it was “territorial return which constitutes Israel’s chief bargaining” power, and that Israel ought to cede much of the territory it won in the 1967 war in exchange for Arab world concessions.
The American Spectator’s Robert Goldberg wrote that the article was in keeping with McPeak’s general ” anti-Israel and anti-Jewish” outlook…
In an brief response just posted on Foreign Affairs’s website, McPeak flatly denies that either he or Obama is “anti-Israel.”
“I am a long-time admirer (and think myself a friend) of Israel. In the early 1970s, I played a key role in getting advanced weaponry released to the Israeli Air Force– capabilities it later put to active use. During that period, I made many official visits to Israel and established close relationships there. These contacts turned out to be useful during Operation Desert Storm, when, as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, I worked with my Israeli counterparts to help defend Israel from Iraqi Scud missile attacks…”

The obvious questions here is: How many Iraqi Scud missiles did Robert Goldberg deflect while he was safely penning away at the American Spectator? My guess, a lot fewer than Gen. McPeak did while teaching Israelis about defense systems and getting them high-tech US weaponry.
All this to say, suggesting granting sovereignty or returning historically Arab lands to Arabs seems a far cry from being anti-Israel. In fact, it strikes me that Goldberg stubborn position seems a lot worse for Israel. If you buy his argument you next have to denounce Rabin as anti-Israel. Go ahead Goldberg. I dare you.

10 thoughts on “McPeak Strikes Back

  1. i dont know if u checked but israel was hit by 39 missiles. if i recall few if any were knocked down.

  2. While it doesn’t erode the point McPeak is trying to make (that his actions-getting the weapons systems for the IDF-are clearly in support of Israel) it is at least interesting to note that those Patriots caused more damage in blowing up the SCUDS than if the SCUDS had simply fallen. Ah, hindsight.
    It’s more cocktail party fodder than insight into McPeak’s position on Israel, one way or the other, though…

  3. While I don’t disagree with the content of this post, Yisroel is right:
    I think this discussion of whether Obama’s foreign policy team, which seems to more-or-less represent the “tough-love” side of US-Israeli relations is played out at this point (especially on this website).
    In truth, I think even responding to the claim that McPeak, Zbigniew Brzezinski, or Samantha Power are “anti-Israel” or even “anti-Jewish” (what happened to anti-semitic? Too harsh for even the Obama-haters?) is giving credence to old-Jewish-people paranoia about having a black president with a Muslim father.
    Let’s change the debate: IS tough-love with Israel better for the US (we are talking about US elections here)? Is tough-love better for Israel? The ins-and-outs—including, most importantly, the weird unintended consequences (i.e. Bush’s initial embrace of Israel causing US inability to properly mediate in the Middle East, currently causing Bush administration to act with a heavy hand—heavier, arguably, than previous administrations).

  4. My recollection is that Patriot Missles hadn’t been used in a full combat urban setting and that folks knew it. McPeak at Israel’s request deployed them in beta. Risking one’s job to benefit Israel’s security seems to be at the very least strongly supportive. Suggesting territorial concessions is certainly not anti-israel it is pro-long-term security. I am so tired of right-wingers attacking folks who were correct on this point. Of course, we’d be better off had we not had aggressive settlement in the west bank and instead devoted those (enormous) resources to legitimate infrastructure and economic development in Israel. It might have been even more helpful to invest in infrastructure and economic development in the West Bank so it would have avoided the crippling poverty that led (along with other causes) to nasty and detestable terrorism. All this to say, McPeak was right and Goldberg ought hold his tongue until he puts his job on the line to try to help Israel.
    As to Michael’s point that US elections ought to be about policies and beliefs impact the US: huzzah!

  5. I can deal with tough love. But I don’t see any evidence of “love” from McPeak, Zbigniew Brzezinski, or Samantha Power. At best they will deal with Israel as any other state (albeit one allied with the US).
    “Love” would seem to indicate some special underlying concern or affinity for Israel. Even if said “love” leads them to push and prod Israel in directions they may not initially want to go in.
    What makes anyone think Obama’s foreign policy clique has these feelings for Israel? (and no I am not suggesting that McCain’s does either, though I happen to think some people very close to Hillary have a real, demonstrable “love” of Israel, but that’s another poast…).

  6. Robert Malley’s love for Israel is far better than Hillary’s love for Israel. At least Malley sees the writing on the wall and is capable of articulating policy issues on both sides. Clinton’s advisors will likely spare the rod to spoil the child.

  7. rootless,
    your argument seems to run: if you treat israel differently and warmly this shows you “love” israel. if you treat it similarly to other states it shows you do not love israel.
    I argued that a guy risked his job to get israel weapons that no other country in the world got. That fits your idea of love, no? He helped Israel secure herself in a time of war. We weren’t doing that for other folks. Help me see what the problem is.
    What you really mean, i suspect, is that if you ever criticize settler policy or the occupation or imply that you think occupation is bad, then you don’t “love” israel.
    McPeak has certainly has demonstrated a commitment to Israel’s security and a personal commitment to her prosperity. Unclear why folks are bringing up Powers, she isn’t even a member of the campaign at this point.
    Let’s look at deeds. Seems pretty clear McPeak has done more for Israeli security than most folks in the world including most advisers to political campaigns.

  8. What you really mean, i suspect, is that if you ever criticize settler policy or the occupation or imply that you think occupation is bad, then you don’t “love” israel.
    haha…uh no, dude, you got the wrong guy. See I’m actually an intelligent person.
    My point — my only point — is that “toughness” by the US gov’t toward Israel does not per se = “tough love.” some people seem to assume that the US pushing or prodding Israel into doing something that they think is right for them (but that Israel may not) comes from some feeling of “love” for the State of Israel. Nonsense. Why does this presumption exist? Particularly when we’re talking about people like McPeak, Zbigniew Brzezinski, or Samantha Power? Where is the “love” for Israel that we are supposed to assume is informing these peoples’ motives?
    States act in their own interests. Yes (SHOCKER!), even the US in its dealings with Israel acts in its own interest . McPeak helped Israel get weapons when it was part of his job to help Israel get weapons. He may even have said some nice things about Israel. If this demonstrates to you beyond any doubt that he “loves” Israel, well, then I’d say you’re very naive. Me, I am not prepared to assume that McPeak loves Israel.
    Nor am I am not willing to automatically concede that ANY US administration or official that seeks to pressure Israel does so out of some special love for Israel, i.e. “tough love.”
    (I think when someone like a Bill Clinton, with a demonstrable and — to me — believable affection for the State of Israel, pushes Israel in a direction it is not willing to go in on its own, THEN I’m willing to at least CONSIDER that such toughness is rooted in “love” or at least some genuine concern. Why anyone would give McPeak, Brzezinski, or Power the benefit of the doubt under similar circumstances is beyond me.)

  9. Returning land seized in the 1967 War in return for peace with the Arab world has beem well within the mainstream of Israeli diplomatic and security policy for decades. The problem is that the policy of some of the players in the Arab world has been getting the land back without giving any peace in return.
    How it is that an American who supports Israeli policy could be seen as anti-Israel is beyond me– unless one thinks that only the most extreme of Likudniks care about Israel.
    Whatever one wants to say about Bill Clinton– at least when he was president, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel and even Arafat was under pressure to use words and not weapons.

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