FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Petraeus’ Political Seppuku

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

More articles by:

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

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail