Two Generals, Two Sirens, One War Gone Bad…


After an interminable presidential campaign, in which many of the basic questions facing the U.S. were ignored or glossed over, there’s nothing like a smarmy sex scandal to get Americans to finally zero in on fundamental issues: like should one of America’s most vaunted military leaders, General David Petraeus have resigned because of an adulterous liaison with Paula Broadwell, his sometime jogging partner and biographer? Or, how exactly was Petraeus able to arrange for Ms. Broadwell to be in Afghanistan at the same time that he was?  Or, who was the FBI agent who sent bare-chested pictures of himself to Jill Kelley a Florida housewife, also, somehow, involved in the affair?  Or why exactly did General John Allen, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, become such an active email buddy of the attractive Mrs. Kelley?

It goes without saying that talk shows hosts and news editors are much more interested in tempting their public with the red meat of what could be mistaken for a new hit cable TV series, than focusing instead on the fact that General Petraeus’ strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan were not, in the long term, a stunning success. Those directing our media might also consider the remarkable fact that General Allen is the fifth—that’s right the fifth—American general to be running that war, now in its 11th year, yet was one of those subjects—along with climate change–never seriously debated–in the presidential campaign.

Instead of clucking over the thousands of emailed pages that General Allen sent to Mrs. Kelley, they might highlight the fact that 68,000 American soldiers are among the 100,000 Nato troops still fighting in Afghanistan and that, despite the U.S. having spent 400 billion dollars on the Afghan war effort, the Taliban are still firmly entrenched.

And further, even as the President Obama warns it may be necessary to bite the bullet and cut back on vital domestic programs, the U.S.is still pouring two billion dollars a week into an Afghan conflict that no one feels is winnable.

As remarkable as a catfight between two women over an American general, is the fact that U.S. military planners are still talking about leaving a “follow-on force” of some 15-20,000 American troops in Afghanistan —even after 2014!  This in a land where corruption is rampant, billions in U.S. funds have simply disappeared, and the security forces that the U.S. has already worked so hard to build are as a much a threat to their American trainers as is the Taliban.

As for the huge sums in aid that the U.S. has spent so far to get Afghanistan back on its feet, a recent Congressional Research Service report concluded, “Even if these economic efforts succeed, Afghanistan will likely remain dependent on billions in U.S. foreign aid “indefinitely.”

Instead of salivating over other recent tales of adulterous military commanders, the media might instead look at the underlying premises of American Exceptionalism driving its foreign policy. That ideology, in the end, is what continues to fuel the endless War against Terror, justifies the more than 1,000 military bases the U.S. has abroad, and creates the need for American soldiers to be absent from their mates for so long and so often.

Instead of seeing who can be the first to get THE interview with Petraeus or Broadwell, network TV star reporters might assign some of their staff to prepare a report on the outrageous phenomenon that while , over the past ten years, the U.S. has spent literally trillions of dollars supposedly to safeguard America’s strategic interests and trade routes in the Middle East and Central Asia, the Chinese, without trying to overthrow any regimes, dispatch any boots on the ground, or Predators in the air, continue to make huge commercial inroads throughout those same regions.

Now we have a new Whack-a-Mole situation:  As U.S. forces finally withdraw from Afghanistan, many of them transferred to the Pacific to meet a supposed Chinese threat—the Chinese are already poised to fill the vacuum in Afghanistan, not with their military, but with huge new contracts in that mineral rich country.

As the U.S. leaves, “the Chinese”, according to one recent report, “will become the dominant power in Afghanistan.”

In fact, if they weren’t so besotted with sexy new terms like “The Bathsheba Syndrome” , [go ahead, check the link] our talk show hosts might consider whether President Obama’s new buildup in the Pacific, rather than convincing the Chinese to back off their own military spending and claims to mineral resources in the South China Sea, might actually trigger a totally opposite response: a potentially disastrous arms race between the globes two major powers.

America’s opinion makers might take a breather from the Petraeus sex caper to focus on such issues…but don’t hold your breath.

Barry M. Lando, a graduate of Harvard and Columbia University, spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with 60 Minutes. His latest book is “Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush.” Lando is currently completing a novel, “The Watchman’s File”, concerning Israel’s most closely guarded secret (it’s not the bomb.) He can be reached through his blog.

More articles by:

BARRY LANDO is a former producer for 60 Minutes. He is the author of  “Deep Strike” a novel about Russian hacking, rogue CIA agents, and a new American president. He can be reached at: barrylando@gmail.com or through his website.

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South