The interview of Tony McPeak in the Oregonian has turned into a bigger headache for Barack Obama than first thought. Obama’s chief military adviser told the newspaper in a 2003 interview that the US should keep troops in Iraq for “a century … if we do [the war] right,” echoing exactly the same sentiments that Obama has ridiculed as “a hundred years of war” when John McCain made them. Now Obama has to explain why the former Air Force Chief of Staff blames the Jews for the Iraq war:
In an interview with The Oregonion about five years ago, McPeak argued that the influence exerted by American Jews is responsible for the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to the general the problem was New York and Miami.
“We have a large vote here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it,” he said.In the same interview, McPeak spoke of his personal experience with Israel.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Israel, worked at one time very closely with the Israeli Air Force as a junior officer,” he said, “but that’s maybe the more cosmopolitan, liberal version of the Israeli population.”
McPeak also charged that Jews and Christian Zionists manipulated American foreign policy in Iraq. “Let’s say that one of your abiding concerns is the security of Israel as opposed to a purely American self-interest, then it would make sense to build a dozen or so bases in Iraq,” he said.
McPeak’s formulation uses a little more subtlety than most of the Jewish-cabal conspiracy theorists, but the thrust is the same. Jews and “Christian Zionists” operate from a concern for the interests of Israel over America. It’s not that protecting the region’s only democracy and our strongest ally somehow doesn’t fall within our own interests, but that this group of Americans act against our national interests to manipulate American policy at the expense of our country.
Basically, Jews and Christian Zionists are traitors, according to McPeak.
How can Obama explain this away? Will this be yet another “crazy uncle” whose views on Israel Obama will disavow while not repudiating McPeak? The last one, Jeremiah Wright, included anti-Israel rants in newsletter from the church that Obama has attended for 20 years and to which Obama has contributed tens of thousands of dollars. The animus towards Israel among Obama advisers has begun to form a distinct pattern, one that shrugs and wan, partial denials cannot hide.
And it’s not just the animus towards Israel that Obama has to explain, either. Why does Obama associate with people who indulge in conspiracy theories to explain reality? Wright believes that the government created HIV to commit a genocide; his replacement believes that the CIA created crack cocaine to destroy African-American communities; and now his military adviser believes that Jews and Christian Zionists conspire to undermine America. Is this the kind of Cabinet we can expect to see in an Obama presidency?
Update: McPeak was Air Force, which I knew, not Army, which I wrote. I’ve fixed it now.