Likely we will never get to read the email exchanges between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, but we do have these, accidentally leaked to Mondoweiss, between the celebrated general and the Romney advisor and uberhawk Max Boot. The context is that in 2010 Petraeus submitted a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee which said that the conflict between Israel and Palestine presented challenges for America’s ability to advance its interests in the Muslim world.

Quickly came word that this banal observation might raise the ire of the Israel Lobby, which insists that no American in a responsible position ever say, or perhaps even think, that our unconditional  support for an apartheid regime on the West Bank, might, just maybe, piss off other Muslims and Arabs and have a negative impact on our overall relations with that part of the world.

Petraeus saw himself sliding into deep doo-doo, and jumped into a panicky damage-control mode. He emailed Boot. Boot promised him he would write a short item noting that this dangerous observation appeared only in Petraeus’s written submission to the Senate and not in his actual testimony. Petraeus replied:


Thx, Max.  (Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?!  And that I will be the speaker at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in mid-Apr at the Capitol Dome…)

I love this. The naked fear of the then highly esteemed general, regarded by many as America’s necessary man on horseback, casting about desperately to save himself. Elie Wiesel and I are bestest of friends! Boot calmly reminded him (no doubt wondering how could this ignorant sycophant have risen to the position he was in) that Petraeus wasn’t being accused of anti-Semitism, only entertaining realistic thoughts about Israel.

What novelist could do better depicting the inner life of Washington? Can anyone imagine a George Marshall or Dwight Eisenhower communicating like that?