Military Intelligence – a Contradiction in Terms?

Maybe there’s some uniquely calm land where military heroes and ex-generals don’t get a head start in politics. But that land is neither Israel or the United States. The only thing consistent about John McCain’s campaign is the claim that he deserves to be president because he was a POW. Closer to where I live, both Shaul Mofaz and Ehud Barak presume that having been the country’s top military commander not only qualifies them to be prime minister, but makes the job theirs by right. A military man, supposedly, not only understands national security but has proven his ability to make decisions under pressure.

For the past week, though, all three have done their best to disabuse of such notions:

Hagee, McCain, Aipac: The Audacity of Cynicism

John McCain was shocked, shocked to know that there were horrid thoughts going on around Rev. Hagee’s brain about the positive side of the Holocaust. These comments, from a sermon on how God used Hitler to get the Jews to return to their land, in case you missed the news all weekend, include:

“How is God going to bring them back to the land? The answer is fishers and hunters,” Mr. Hagee said, referring to how Jews ended up in the modern state of Israel. “A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and forces you. Hitler was a hunter.”

As we know, McCain actively pursued Hagee’s endorsement. As the NY Times notes,

At a speech last year before Mr. Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, he thanked Mr. Hagee for his “spiritual guidance to politicians like me” and said, “It’s hard to do the Lord’s work in the city of Satan.”

Hagee has every effort to make his views public via every media available. His comments expressing empathy for Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin appeared in a book that became a bestseller in its market. The same book looks forward to an apocalypse in which enough blood is shed on Israeli soil to create a river of blood 200 miles long. One of the scholars who introduced me to this literature correctly spoke of the “pornographic violence” of the visions of the end promoted by Hagee and others of his school.

Read moreHagee, McCain, Aipac: The Audacity of Cynicism

The Bush Doctrine: No Peace. (And What’s the McCain Doctrine?)

As Laura Rozen points out , George W. Bush wasn’t just attacking Barack Obama in his Knesset speech dismissing negotiations with “terrorists and radicals” as appeasement. He was also attacking his host, Ehud Olmert, whose government was already engaged in indirect peace contacts with Syria via Turkey – the negotiations made public yesterday.

The contacts through Turkey reportedly began in February 2007. If so, the Olmert government may have been persuaded to act (or embarrassed into acting) by the reports published the previous month about Foreign Minister director-general Alon Liel’s back-channel negotations with Syria. The “non-paper ” – or unsigned framework agreement reached by Liel and unofficial Syrian negotiator Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman is important reading, because it gives a sense of how an Israel-Syria deal is likely to look. One creative feature: in order to keep the Golan demilitarized and to prevent competition over Jordan River water, the Golan would be turned into a giant park after Israeli withdrawal – with free access for Israelis.

Liel has stressed – in a press briefing in January 2007, and since – that a critical part of any deal is a switch in Syrian orientation from pro-Iran to pro-West. That would necessarily mean dropping support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Syria’s secular regime wants the reorientation in order to maintain its independence, Alon reports. For Israel, such a deal would mean much more than removing the direct military threat from Syria. With Hamas and Hezbollah weakened, Iran’s power in our area would be sigificantly reduced.

But the deal requires a third party: Washington.

Read moreThe Bush Doctrine: No Peace. (And What’s the McCain Doctrine?)

How the Bush Administration Pursues Peace

Ha’aretz reports today on the latest leaks about the potential for Syrian-Israeli talks, and then hoses down the sparks of hopes with these paragraphs:

Following contacts between Israel and Syria, officials say significant U.S. involvement will probably be necessary for negotiations to move ahead, and that Syria is still demanding such involvement.

Both Israeli and foreign experts on Syria told Haaretz on Wednesday that a change in the American position was not on the horizon…

Read moreHow the Bush Administration Pursues Peace