December 28, 2012, - 11:11 am
Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., who died yesterday at age 78, was definitely a patriot who served America with honor and valor in battle (including courageously risking his life in Vietnam), and he deserves tremendous credit and kudos for that. But on the Middle East, particularly Israel, his record was mixed and swung both ways, and it should be noted.
When the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell-Jill Khawam Kelley scandal hit the news (remember that?), I wrote about the fact that Islamic terrorists, including Islamic Jihad founder and chief, Sami Al-Arian, taught our nation’s top generals at Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and successfully poisoned them against Israel and in favor of Arabism. I mentioned General Schwarzkopf and the fact that he made some statements about Israel that made him a popular guy in Arab and Muslim circles.
While I couldn’t find a lot of the General’s statements on Israel online–this was before the internet, after all, he did spout the usual conventional baloney that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the root of all of our problems in the Middle East. And, as we’re seeing today more than ever, it is no such thing. Despite idiotic claims of celebrated empty suits like Slobbert Spencer (who said it on FOX News), Israel has nothing to do with the ascendancy of radicals in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, and so on. Schwarzkopf’s statement about the Palestinian issue being the key problem in the Mid-East and how it must be solved was celebrated and repeated over and over by James Zogby, the anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah/HAMAS chief of the Arab American Institute, in columns all over the world. Although I believe it was distorted, after having read the original statement, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times:
The most important factor to stability and peace in the Middle East is the resolution of the Palestinian question. I’d never go into what that solution should be. I’ll leave that to the diplomats. But this is the major impediment to peace.
In Schwarzkopf’s 1992 book, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero : The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf,” Schwarzkopf expressed relief that Israel wasn’t included in Central Command (CENTCOM) with the other Middle Eastern countries, and, instead, remains in European Command (EUCOM), because he didn’t want to offend the Arabs, a dhimmi attitude that is the reason the Arabs respect us less and less:
European Command also kept Israel, which from my viewpoint was a help: I’d have had difficulty impressing the Arabs with Central Command’s grasp of geopolitical nuance if one of the stops on my itinerary had been Tel Aviv.
And his dhimmi attitude was wrongheaded. He actually thought the Arabs would like us if only we were nice to them:
The world predicted, “Oh my goodness, culturally the Americans are really going to step in it over there. There’re going to be drunken soldiers rolling around inside the souk [DS: Arabic for market].” It hasn’t happened. The fact that we have culturally respected this area cannot be ignored in the Arab world.”
We don’t want to win the war and lose the peace. We have designed our campaign to take this into account. I think when all the evidence comes out–that we did not target civilians, that our intentions were exactly what we stated all along, that we respected regional cultural sensitivities–I think this will stand us in good stead in the Arab world.
But, as we know, in fact, the Arab world couldn’t care less that we “culturally respected” them in the Gulf War or that we continue to pander and do it even all over American soil to date. They demand that because they know we will give them that. And, then, they laugh at us and hate us more, respecting us far less. None of this stood us nor will ever stand us “in good stead” in the Arab world. Not even close.
Moreover, Schwarzkopf, during the Gulf War, repeatedly made negative comments about Israel responding to the Scud missiles falling all over the country. In fact, Israel didn’t respond, per Bush and Schwarzkopf’s demands, even though it was clearly under attack. And, yet, Schwarzkopf, in an undated PBS interview, belittled the dangers of the Scuds to Israel and its citizens. He even mocked the Jews by saying that the only people who died were those who couldn’t figure out how to put a gas mask on correctly. He never learned the lesson that appeasement never works. It only creates an ever-growing appetite.
Q: Getting to the scuds. You got a message, you say in your book, from your Operations Officer about Israeli intentions on the Saturday morning. The first day no scuds, and then the second night they fired the scuds. And it was saying there were Israeli fighters and so on.
Schwarzkopf: The message we got was that there was an Israeli aircraft, in the air, prepared to attack into western Iraq.
That caused me considerable concern on two fronts. The first being that the Arabs had made it very clear from the first day we arrived over there, that any involvement on the part of Israel would make their position almost untenable…Secondly… of course, I had aircraft in the air over there. We had aircraft in the air. Chuck Horner’s aircraft were there. And there’s a deconfliction that has to take place with another force of aircraft entering into that area, flying around, could have created a great great difficulty with regard to fratricide and I was very very concerned about deconflicting this area.
Thirdly, quite frankly, there was nothing that the Israelis could’ve done that we weren’t already doing, and so therefore it would’ve been really a futile gesture which could’ve caused the coalition to become unglued and all for something that was already being done.
Q: Tell me about the difference in the approach between Washington and yours…
Schwarzkopf: Washington’s approach to the scuds was purely a political approach. My approach was purely a military approach.
Washington was very concerned about the pressure that was being brought to bear within Israel as a result of the scuds landing on Israel. And the fact that, if we couldn’t convince the Israelis we were doing everything that could possibly be done to stop the scuds, that they would intervene, with subsequent impact on the coalition.
I would confess to you that my position was quite different and that’s that number one, no one in Israel was ever killed by a scud missile. They did have some people die as a result of putting their gas masks on wrong. But no one was ever killed as a result of scud missiles.
Secondly, many many of the scud missiles were landing way outside of the towns. So as a military weapon it was, it was almost totally ineffective. It had no military significance and, by diverting as much air power as we were being required to divert, in kind of chasing this needle in a haystack, which is what the mobile scuds turned out to be, we weren’t being very successful, every time we thought we were being successful we’d find out subsequently we weren’t being very successful.
So we were diverting huge amounts of aircraft which could be contributing to the overall campaign plan. As a result the campaign plan was being prolonged because we weren’t accomplishing on the time schedule we’d planned to accomplish, because of this diversion.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I clearly understand the pressures that were on Washington and why they were doing it. . . .
Q: With regard to the scuds, there was a remark you made….
Schwarzkopf: The remark I made has been incorrectly quoted. It’s been attributed to me that I said that “… I was in more danger in a lightning storm in southern Georgia, than I was in the scud attack in Tel Aviv.”
That is absolutely incorrect. What I said is I was under more danger from a lightning attack in southern Georgia than I would have been in the streets of Saudi Arabia …… it was not Tel Aviv at all.
But the point was that the scud was purely a random act, a missile that was launched in the air, it was not aimed, there was no guidance system to it whatsoever, it kind of fell to earth and, and where it happened to land was a question of fate… more than it was a deliberate blow.
Unfortunately if you’ve ever been in southern Georgia on the beaches in a lightning storm, if you’re out there you’re in great great danger, and you can be killed very very quickly.
Uder a scud attack quite frankly,–and if it weren’t for that one unfortunate incident where the warhead fell on one of our sleeping quarters—the casualties from the scud would have been extremely low.
So, and as I say, no one in Israel was ever killed by a scud missile attack. So that’s what I meant when I made that comment.
Translation: Schwarzkopf wanted Israel to sit on its hands and do nothing while the “harmless” (in his mind) Scuds fell on Israel (because of his war to protect Kuwait from Saddam Hussein), and he didn’t want to divert any resources to stop the Scuds, but the Jewish pressures on Washington made him do it. Oh, and the only reason anyone died was because those stupid Jews can’t figure out a gas mask.
Reality check: in fact, some Jews were killed in Israel from the Scuds, none of them because of improper gas mask usage. Three were killed in Ramat Gan on January 22, 1991, and a fourth was killed in Tel Aviv on January 25, 1991.
But, then, Schwarzkopf–in a paid appearance speaking to Miami Beach Jews–made some very starkly pro-Israel statements at some point after the Gulf War. They are recounted in a column by the late scholar, philanthropist, and columnist Manfred R. Lehmann, an acquaintance of my late father’s (the two of them were avid bibliophiles, Orthodox Jews, and supporters of Israel). I don’t know the date of Schwarzkopf’s comments, as the article is undated, but it would have been prior to Lehmann’s death at the end of May 1997. I’m not sure if Schwarzkopf was just speaking to the audience that paid him well to “dance” for them. Or if he really meant it, but I think the comments bear consideration. Here are some of excerpts from Lehmann’s recounting:
About Israel he had this to say: “I admire Israel because she is a democracy; I admire Israel because I love the underdog, I always loved the underdog, and as a military man I cannot help but admire Israel’s military successes. But let me tell you I that I have never admired Israel more than I did during Operation Desert Storm because Israel had 40 reasons to enter the war—that is how many Scuds were fired at Israel. Sometimes it is said that Israel does not have the interest of the world at heart, and only has its own interest at heart, but this is not true. The Desert War proved the opposite: Israel was under tremendous pressure to enter the war, but for the good of everyone in the Coalition, Israel showed great forbearance for the common good, and because of that I am convinced today that we have the greatest opportunity today for peace, greater than at any time in my lifetime.”
He singled out one of Israel’s famous military inventions for special praise: the pilotless small planes, the VUA, which the American Army is using for aerial surveillance. He told us that the plane was so successful that in some cases Iraqi troops surrendered to the pilotless plane! . . .
On the question of the Golan Heights, General Schwarzkopf made the most significant political statement for the benefit of Israel, and I quote his words: “If I were in charge of the Golan Heights, I would only argue from a position of strength.
I would not consider giving them up unless I had absolutely satisfactory assurances that the security of my country is protected. I would make that determination entirely on the basis of very, very strong assurances.” He implied, of course, that such assurances cannot be expected from either Syrians nor any other power!
So, did Norman Schwarzkopf “get it” on the Middle East. The answer is mixed. But, based on his comments, he wasn’t the Israel-hater the Arabs and Muslims pretended he was. Not even close. But he definitely was a dhimmi in some respects.
But his incredible feats on the battlefield in service to America are legion:
His chestful of medals included three Silver and three BronzeStars for valor and two Purple Hearts for Vietnam wounds.
In Vietnam, he won a reputation as an officer who would put his life on the line to protect his troops. In one particularly deadly fight on the Batangan Peninsula, Schwarzkopf led his men through a minefield, in part by having the mines marked with shaving cream.
He served America long and well and won the Gulf War (though it wasn’t a hard one to win), with the mission quickly accomplished and very few American soldiers’ lives lost. And he was an American patriot who spent his career dedicated to keeping America safe. For that, he deserves to be remembered well.
General Norman Schwarzkopf, Rest In Peace.
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