FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Petraeus’ Political Seppuku

by MANUEL GARCIA, JR.

On the Friday after Election Day, November 9, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General David H. Petraeus announced his immediate resignation and admitted to an extramarital affair (with his biographer Paula Broadwell), which had been exposed (officially by an unrelated FBI investigation, privately others had known of the affair earlier including perhaps Holly Knowlton, Petraeus’ wife of 37 years).

Many see the Petraeus affair as an example of politically counterproductive and socially immature American puritanism. The popular counter to this criticism is that Petraeus had opened himself to blackmail, which represented too dangerous a risk to national security, making his departure necessary. Others suspect there were hidden motives and agendas to Petraeus’ downfall, which were covered over by the public drama of a sexual scandal being paid for with honorable military resignation. The following comments pursue this second possibility.

I have the impression that the US “consulate” in Benghazi was a CIA observation post under the cover of a State Department facility, and that the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, took the heat for the fatal attack (four American consular employees died) on September 11, to shield the CIA specifically and the Obama Administration generally. At that time, Hillary Clinton had the highest national approval rating among high-profile US government personalities and potential presidential “candidates,” Democratic or Republican, so it must have been estimated that she could probably survive the political hit and put it well behind her by 2016. This all saved Petraeus from censure for the Benghazi disaster.

Having an affair “at the office” inevitably distracts you from your work; in a job like CIA director “the office” has a very broad definition (it encases you always and everywhere). Was Petraeus paying all the attention he should have to the configuration, defense and manning of the Benghazi consulate-operations center, and to the data gathered by it? Or, were the data gathering and interfacing functions of covert diplomacy (spying) being sub-contracted to the State Department: Chris Stevens, Hillary Clinton’s appointee?

Perhaps Petraeus, the Army general, did what generals do best even as head of the CIA, focus on the military operations of the agency (the robotic air force: drones, and the counterinsurgency or semi-covert commando type military campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan), and left the reconnaissance, intelligence and infiltration work in Libya to their State Department paper-shuffling/networking office-worker type contractors: Chris Stevens and the State Department.

Congressional investigations into the Benghazi consulate attack, in September-October, and security vulnerability (paramour) investigations now would inevitably expose too much sensitive CIA activity, and too many embarrassing management errors (probably compounded by inattention). Also, objectively, even the drone war and counterinsurgency campaigns Petraeus had designed and supervised were not succeeding politically (at searing humanitarian cost).

Petraeus had accumulated too much baggage, he had become a liability to the top political careerists, he had to go. Petraeus probably remembered his Roman, samurai and military history, and decided to take control of his unavoidable exit, by making it an immediate and quick one. Obama returned the favor by his prompt permission for his Drone-War Praetor’s career seppuku,  so Petraeus could obtain an expeditiously merciful release. I doubt Hillary was anguished by the departure.

In Washington D.C., policies are personified. One thinks of Elizabeth Warren and financial industry regulation, George W. Bush (and more recently Mitt Romney) and tax reductions for the wealthy, and so on. David Petraeus boosted his career during congressional testimony in 2007 by presenting as successful his command efforts in Iraq as part of “the surge” of US troops there, and he went on to become the face of US counterinsurgency policy as applied since.

Now, Petraeus’ departure from the Obama Administration can be taken as an opportunity not only to reevaluate the management of the CIA, but to adjust its priorities, and to reexamine the current drone war and counterinsurgency policies. Perhaps these policies will remain static with a new manager appointed to supervise them (since the foreign policy objectives have not changed), but then again, perhaps the need to appoint a replacement Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) will be used as an opportunity to initiate some new and diplomatic rather than military methods of conducting US policy in Central Asia.

Manuel García, Jr. is a retired nuclear test physicist/engineer and now an occasional writer on energy and society. His e-mail is mangogarcia@att.net

Manuel Garcia, Jr, once a physicist, is now a lazy househusband who writes out his analyses of physical or societal problems or interactions. He can be reached at mangogarcia@att.net

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail