Nearly a year ago, I wrote about General Keith Dayton’s address to the annual Soref Symposium of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the pro-Israeli thinktank. In that address, I noted, Dayton — who’d been assigned the job of helping to train and equip Palestinian military units in the West Bank — worried out loud that despite the fact that the individuals selected for those units were vetted by Israeli and Jordanian intelligence, and despite the US involvement, it wasn’t impossible that these units could become stirred by a Palestinian nationalist (i.e., strongly anti-Israel) outlook.
Dayton added, however, that the point of building these units was to “create a Palestinian state.” But he added:
“With big expectations, come big risks. There is perhaps a two-year shelf life on being told that you’re creating a state, when you’re not.”
As I wrote at the time:
“To my ears, at least, his subtle warning is that if concrete progress isn’t made toward a Palestinian state, the very troops Dayton is assembling could rebel.”
Which raises the question of the US military’s role in the Middle East, in Palestine, and in America’s Middle East policy. Recently, as noted below, key commanders in Centcom and at the US Joint Chiefs of Staff have reportedly been sounding the alarm that Israel’s intransigence on peace talks is undermining the US position in the Middle East. And, top US military officers, including Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, are strongly opposed to the idea of an Israeli attack on Iran. What it means is that the fiercely pro-Israeli neoconservatives, who hug the military to their breasts when it comes to invading Iraq, are wary of the Pentagon’s role more broadly in the Middle East, since the Pentagon — and the military-industrial complex — is fond of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arabs, and the regional machinery that supports America’s huge presence in the area of Centcom’s bailiwick.
Daniel Pipes, who makes most neocons look mild by comparison, has just issued another fatwa against America’s support for what he calls “the Palestinian militia,” i.e., General Dayton’s responsibility, and he concludes: “The Dayton mission needs to be stopped before it does more harm.”
Why does Dayton need “to be stopped”? Because, says Pipes:
“Looking ahead, I predict that those troops will more likely be a war partner than a peace partner for Israel.”
Pipes says that the Palestinian armed forces, weak as they are, are prone to “start directing their firepower against Israel,” cooperating with Hamas, or even being taken over by Hamas if the militant Islamists from that benighted organization take over the West Bank.
Pipes’ blast at General Dayton is only the most recent neoconservative assault against the US military in the Middle East. In part, the neocons are suspicious — as always — of the so-called “realists” who, in turn, are skeptical of Israel’s role of monkey wrench in the machinery of US-Arab relations.