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March 17, 2010

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I'd like to think you were correct, but isn't the Republican style to only support the military if it says what they want it to say and to bludgeon democrats as traitors if they disagree? eg. DADT, if military is for it, then McCain pretends he doesn't need to think about it, just following the wisdom of our generals. but if military favours its repeal, then McCain doesn't really want to hear statement from Patraeus.

So was this whole conflict predicted? Are we looking at another move in 11-dimensional chess?

Obama rarely moves unless he's confident of his outcome - which is why he is so quick to balk at Single Payer and Carbon Tax that his base loves but the middle-ground Congressmen don't. So it seems a bit out of place to send your VP down to Israel only to have him smacked in the face by a complete railroad over the Washington sponsored roadmap to peace.

Is Obama responding to a hard-right push by the Israeli government, or did he provoke a move he suspected was coming anyway? Or did he just send Biden down to Israel on the eve of a political explosion so the US could take the backlash rather than the Palestinians?

Good lord, do people still believe Obama plays 11-dimensional chess?

I don't think demanding that Israel cease settlement building last year and then backing down was 11-d chess--it looked more like the really incompetent 2-d chess that I play. He's very unpopular in Israel (not that this reflects badly on him) and ended up looking stupid and weak to everyone.

Finishing my comment, I don't think the geniuses at work in Obama's Israeli/Palestinian policy last year have really demonstrated that they are ready for anything more complicated than tic-tac-to. I hope this latest flap signals at least the development of a backbone, but am not raising my hopes much.

I'm pretty sure that Obama does not play 11-dimensional chess -- at least, not on this issue. It's an open question regarding whether Patreaus does. Patreaus may simply be using Israel's spectacularly stupid timing in announcing these new settlements to coax some movement from the Administration.

I also think that Goldberg is absolutely correct that Obama's long-game is to force Netanyahu to ditch the far right parties that make up his coalition. A goal that I support, by the way. (Indeed, my second policy is: The first thing to do is, ditch the crazies.)

That may be Obama's objective, and it's a good one. But the problem with getting Netanyahu to ditch the crazies is that he may well be one of them.

I mean, it's a spectrum of crazy. And there are those crazier than Bibi. But he ain't exactly sane or reasonable on the relevant issues.

It's an open question regarding whether Patreaus does. Patreaus may simply be using Israel's spectacularly stupid timing in announcing these new settlements to coax some movement from the Administration

The briefing of Mullen ordered by Petraeus came before the recent Biden dust up. The briefing was in mid-January.

That transition from from criticism of Israeli policy to "blaming the Jews" was smooth.

The briefing of Mullen ordered by Petraeus came before the recent Biden dust up. The briefing was in mid-January.

I recognize that. But it went entirely unreported until recently.

Possibly Von. His office has been known to leak with purpose aforethough.

"If the Department of Defense concludes that a particular Israeli strategy is likely to injure or kill US troops, no one on Capitol Hill is going to stand up for that Israeli strategy."

Well I have to cry bullshit. There is a lot of support on Capitol Hill for allowing and even facilitating a Israeli air assault on Iran. And no one who has thought about that for a second can't but conclude that the result will be increased attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am not suggesting that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is going to send divisions across the borders but that after such a raid they would have no problem finding enough suicide bombing volunteers to mingle with the 100s of thousands of Iranian pilgrims that enter Iraq every year, or simply to ramp up the flow of money and weapons to their many proxies in Iraq.

An Israeli attack on Natanz means American troop casualties, yet I don't see the people at NRO or TNR rising up in service of that supposed most powerful lobby, certainly they didn't when it came to Iraq, when it became clear in late 2004 that there were no WMDs and that actions like attacking the Shi'ite Holy Cities and subduing Fallujah and Ramadi were going to result in large numbers of military fatalities the reaction on the Right and on Capitol Hill was mostly just a big series of yawns. As Sullivan put it then those soldiers were "Just servants of civil masters", something I will never forgive him for.

"Support our troops" always was a cover for "Support the war machine, support Bush, support Israel and screw the guys who are paying for it on the ground". If Israel attacks Iran Americans will die. And probably not just in the ME, I can't think of a better motivator for a second 9/11 than a bombing campaign on Iran.

The most powerful lobby is the Military-Industrial Complex, not the military alone. The MIC has repeatedly shown that the lives of US troops are expendable in the quest for further profit and power. There are plenty of actions Israel could take that would both profit the MIC and get US troops killed. An attack on Iran, as Bruce Webb points out, would get support from the wholly-owned congressmen of the MIC and would profit the companies making military equipment as both Israel and the US bought new or replacement weapons to handle the Iranian reaction.

"The most powerful lobby is the Military-Industrial Complex, not the military alone. The MIC has repeatedly shown that the lives of US troops are expendable in the quest for further profit and power."

Exactly!

An attack on Iran, as Bruce Webb points out, would get support from the wholly-owned congressmen of the MIC and would profit the companies making military equipment as both Israel and the US bought new or replacement weapons to handle the Iranian reaction.

Not necessarily.

Right now, the MIC wants to keep its big bad bases in Iraq, and attacks on Iran by Israel could and would likely jeopardize that. Ditto the ability to remain in Afghanistan, astraddle major fossil fuel and other valuable mineral deposits.

I am so tired of this "11 dimensional chess" meme. Thinking four or five moves ahead isn't 11 dimensional chess. That's just plain old chess.

I realize that we're not used to a President who thinks long term, considers his actions and plans several moves ahead, but it's not some unknown and arcane skill set that we're positing here.

i always assumed the 11-dimensional chess thing was a play on Spock's 3-D chess game:
.

not only is it chess, it's in 3 dimensions instead of 2!

Obama, being much smarter than Spock, is playing 11 dimension chess (and thinking 50 moves ahead, or whatever).

it was a cute meme, back before we learned that Obama doesn't think in 11-D, but is more of a rope-a-dope fighter.

It gets one aspect of him quite right though, which is the ability to penetrate conventional wisdom without the temptation to explain to everyone how and why they are wrong, instead just to let things play out and have it be demonstrated.

But I agree that rope-a-dope is his main tactic and one he is just spectacularly competent at, not infallible, just really damn good at it. His understanding of cyclical swings in opinion and in the importance of the storyline going in the right direction at the right moment is the key. The media loves to cover two types of story: most of the time, "Big Trend Continues", and every so often, "Big Trend Reverses". Not too often on the latter - you don't want to look stupid - but often enough that you can claim to have perceived some change occurring. The key realization is that provided the downwards trends aren't too severe, and don't occur at crucial moments like right at the election, they are certain to eventually be reversed. You want to fight the tendency for sentiments to fall too fast, and let your opponents wear out their energy on protest at meaningless times, but not take that as an indication of overall failure; then grasp the right moment to start telling a story of reversal and a new upward trend in time for the key point - usually an election.

I'm not saying it's planned down to the last moment, there's a lot of serendipity, but there's definitely a strategy there.

He did this with great skill during the primary and again during the general, and from what it looks like, is about to do the same for the midterms. Assuming the lunatics in Congress can get it together to pass this bill, which is looking good right now.

The upshot of this post seems to be that Petraeus or other high-status generals can give some measured warnings that are frankly obvious to everyone (or are you postulating that he's going to double down and come out swinging), and that U.S. mideast policy will turn on a dime as a result. I don't think that passes the giggle test, frankly.

The MIC has repeatedly shown that the lives of US troops are expendable in the quest for further profit and power.

...and, cynically, they usually do it by selling their latest product as one that will "save our boys' lives" relative to the last generation of products they sold us. Each generation gets more powerful, more autonomous, and less risky for our boys.

It's such a shame that a few of them need to get killed every so often to show that the last generation actually worked and simultaneously demonstrate how much we need that next upgrade.

Not that I believe any of this cynicism goes into the design of weapons systems, just into the methods by which they are sold to the taxpayers, and the internalized pressure that the military has to justify their astronomical price tag every few years in order to stave off any notion of budget cuts.

If the Department of Defense concludes that a particular Israeli strategy is likely to injure or kill US troops, no one on Capitol Hill is going to stand up for that Israeli strategy.

I see what you did there. You can sidestep the fact that General Shinseki was rebuked and humiliated for being right about the actual expense of a proper occupation of Iraq, because it was largely done by Rumsfeld, who was his boss at Defense. And this isn't likely to happen again, because Petraeus has far more clout than Shinseki and
Gates isn't a stupid incompetent rectum.

Still, the notion that something won't be done if the uniformed military says "Hey, this'll cost lives" simply isn't true.

That transition from from criticism of Israeli policy to "blaming the Jews" was smooth.

It ought to be, by now: there has been a whole cottage industry of commentators - mostly in the blogosphere, and the wingnut/neocon "press"- which has been flogging this very viewpoint for years.

The big difference now seems to be that "mainstream" figures like Abe Foxman don't seem to hesitate to spout this BS openly.

Israel is surrounded by folkes who want to destroy them. Dealing with all that hate has pushed the majority Israelies into holding these same hate filled attitudes toward their enemies. So sad. Israel has lost the moral highground and is just another realpolitik player on the world stage.No blame here. Zionism won and Judaism lost.

"The most powerful lobby in Washington."

Do you honestly believe that Israel has a tenth as much control over our government as, say, Saudia Arabia has had in the last decade?

It is assertions like this, with their hints of the old "Jews control everything" meme that lead many to see a good deal of antisemitism in left wing opposition to Israel.

Do you honestly believe that Israel has a tenth as much control over our government as, say, Saudia Arabia has had in the last decade?

I don't think either "control" our government. But Saudi Arabia has a position on the Israel/Palestine issue, and Israel has a position on same.

Would you say that we have been 10 times more likely to take Saudi Arabia's side? Are as likely? I wouldn't.

We don't even allow the UN to issue condemnations of Israeli behavior, and the UN condemnations come from more than just Saudi Arabia.

It is not anti-semitic to note that Israel has been far more influential than Saudi Arabia on issues pertaining to Israel/Palestine, and many other Gulf/ME related issues.

i was wondering when the anti-semitism charge would appear.

i was wondering when the anti-semitism charge would appear.

And to a post stating flatly that the AIPAC and assorted neocons are NOT the most powerful lobby in Washington. Go figure.


Green Eagle clearly didn't read the post.

Which, by the way, I think is pretty ridiculous (sorry Von). While I do think that P's assessment lends some additional weight to the evil jew haters those who would reign in the Israeli right wing, the idea that this has the potential to bring about a sea change in US policy seems very far-fetched to me.

Also, what everybody else said, re: MIC.


In response to Garry W.

It is clear that both the Kahane/Kach crowd and the various Haredi backed Political parties are committed to a vision of Greater Israel that has no room but any of the Chosen in the Promised Land except themselves. And over the last thirty years they have concluded that neither Reform or Conservative Jews need apply. If you don't accept the Book of Joshua as an operating manual they don't care. They want to clear Israel of Non-Believers. Which on their terms would include most of American Jewry. They don't recognize your Rabbis, they don't recognize your conversions, they don't recognize your marriages. Somehow I don't think they recognize your moral strictures and committment to the Enlightenment. They spit at the whole concept of Reform.

The political coalition that dominates Israel despises American Jewry ouside some remaining neighborhoods in Brooklyn and a couple of towns Upstate. Get a clue.

Some time ago, I did need to buy a car for my firm but I didn't earn enough money and could not purchase something. Thank God my mate proposed to take the personal loans at trustworthy creditors. Thence, I acted that and was satisfied with my commercial loan.

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