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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Petraeus anti-Israel? His PhD adviser was Stephen Walt

On Friday, I blogged an article by Max Boot in which he argued that US CENTCOM commander David Petraeus is not anti-Israel and could not have attempted to persuade the US Joint Chiefs of Staff that the United States' stature in the Arab world is being undermined by its inability to boss Israel around.

In a lengthy rebuttal, Diana West argues that Boot is doing some wishful thinking, that Petraeus is anti-Israel, and among other things, notes that Petraeus did a PhD at Princeton in 1987 in which one of his advisers was the notorious Stephen Walt, who has become famous as the co-author of The Israel Lobby, a book that claims that US policy in the Middle East is controlled by supporters of Israel.

I'm not going to quote from the article at length - I urge you to read the whole thing (I've come late to this debate, as I'm sure many of you have). But the concluding paragraphs merit quoting for those who might not otherwise see them.
It is up to Petraeus to refute the Arabist, anti-Israel attitudes now far and widely attributed to him by media now taking his words, written and spoken and reported on, at face value if they are truly incorrect. Personally, I'm not holding my breath. The fact is, assuaging "Arab anger" is, when you think of it, is the very heart of "hearts and minds" current counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) -- and Petraeus wrote the book.

He also wrote a Ph. D. thesis at Princeton in 1987 called “The American military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era” (available here).

One of his two faculty advisors, it is interesting to note in light of this recent debate was ... Stephen Walt -- of Walt and Mearshimer infamy (hat tip Andrew Bostom). In acknowledgements, Petraeus writes:
Professor Stephen Walt also deserves my gratitude. As my second faculty adviser – replacing Professor Barry Posen during the writing of my dissertation – Professor Walt offered numerous sound suggestions and comments. Like Professor Ullman, he displayed tremendous competence not only as an academic, but as a teacher as well.
Petraeus is delivering the 2010 Irving Kristol Lecture at the American Enterprise Association this spring. Maybe he'll take the opportunity of his lecture to explain what he learned.
Read the whole thing.


At 11:50 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Das Boot?


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