Why does David Petraeus hate America?

Via the Washington Monthly, David Petraeus has several comments in support of Obama’s policies on Gitmo and enhanced interrogation. Here’s his comments on the closing of Gitmo:

“Gitmo has caused us problems; there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activities since 9/11. And again, Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.”

Now, I understand that, in his capacity as a military commander, Petraeus is supposed to support the decisions of his civilian commanders. But by speaking in a way that praises Obama’s decision while implicitly criticizes his former civilian commanders (Bush and Cheney), he seems to go a bit beyond that.

Former Bush communications person Nicole Wallace
(along with others) has spoken of Petraeus as a possible Republican nominee in 2012. While I’m sure that the general is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Gary Sinise, I have to wonder what kind of precedent there is for this. Has a high-ranking, currently serving general ever run for president (against an incumbent president) during a time of war before? Would such a run violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules governing the relationship between the military and the elected civilian leadership? And why do Republicans assume that Petraeus is a Republican who would run against Obama?

It’s hard not to think what Republicans really want is in essence a military coup that will restore the Bush dynasty. And there’s an unspoken assumption on their part that everyone in the military itself wants this, that all good red-blooded servicemen want torture, Gitmo, plans for bombing Iran, and so on, to be back on the table. That they hate working for a dirty fucking hippie like Obama. Do comments like the one made by Petraeus above make any kind of a dent in this mentality?

Update. Commenter BlackMage mentions the case of McClellan in 1864. McClellan was relieved of his command by Lincoln prior to running for president. So that would seem to me to be a different sort of situation from a general resigning in order to run.

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56 replies
  1. 1
    BlackMage says:

    Has a high-ranking, currently serving general ever run for president (against an incumbent president) during a time of war before?

    Sure they have. George McClelland, 1864.

  2. 2
    Comrade Jake says:

    This quote (via the same Washington Monthly link) is a lot more damaging, IMO:

    When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Convention, we rightly have been criticized. And so as we move forward, I think it is important to again live our values to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those.

    Holy shit.

  3. 3

    I was thinking of the same case as blackmage.

    However, not knowing the fact, I would guess that McClellan resigned his commission before running. I’m sure the people who dream of candidate Petreaus assume that he would retire before starting his campaign.

  4. 4
    John Cole says:

    He would obviously resign first.

  5. 5
    J. Michael Neal says:

    Sure they have. George McClelland, 1864.

    It’s questionable whether one could characterize McClellan’s service, or anything else, as active.

  6. 6
    Lola says:

    I read somewhere that Republicans may now be adopting the Move On slogan they denounced a fey years back.

    Republicans always assume the military is hardcore wingnut, which is kind of funny because it is in the interest of the military not to start unnecessary wars where thousands of soldiers will die.

    Most of the egregious torturing seems to have been committed by military contractors and the CIA. The military seems pretty repulsed by torture as a group.

    One of Obama’s smartest moves was keeping Gates. After all, Gates is prying senator’s hands away from the defense budget and all for closing Gitmo. He even advocated against a big troop buildup in Afghanistan, wish Obama would have listened.

    Maybe Petraeus is on his way to becoming Gates II. That would be awesome. Of course the MSM doesn’t like hear to reasonable and pragmatic and military leaders since they romanticize war like nobody else. The MSM will cover up Petraeus’ remarks, I’m sure.

  7. 7
    gwangung says:

    Any talk by the Republicans about running Petraeus makes it clear that they’re thinking only of winning and not of governing or policy. They are going to have to revise their thinking if they want to run him (if, indeed, he’d want to run as a Republican).

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    @Lola: That is because the military is the group that suffers when we torture. The CIA and wingnut bloggers will never be taken POW. The CIA and wingnut bloffers are not on the front lines now fighting people to the death because they won’t surrender since they know we will torture them. The CIA isn’t the one is going to be shit on by the enemy when captured. The CIA isn’t the guy fighting all the fanatical recruits we just created.

    Anyone with half a god damned brain knows why the military does not torture, beyond the fact it is wrong and against the Geneva conventions. Read some history about the end of WWII when the Germans were rushing to surrender to the US while on the eastern front they fought to the last man, because they knew what the Russians would do to them.

    This isn’t rocket science.

  9. 9
    J. Michael Neal says:

    Thought Question: Is making fun of Republicans a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

  10. 10
    PanAmerican says:

    According to wiki he was relieved of command but remained on active duty:

    Following the example of Winfield Scott, he (McClellan) ran as a U.S. Army general still on active duty; he did not resign his commission until election day, November 8, 1864

  11. 11
    Brett says:

    The best part of this story is how Fox News buried its own interview with Petraeus. Go to their site and see if you can find it without searching for it. The big interview was released yesterday, and it has already disappeared from the front page and the politics page, and the military page only refers to Petraeus in an anodyne headline about Pakistan.

  12. 12
    DougJ says:

    Read some history about the end of WWII when the Germans were rushing to surrender to the US while on the eastern front they fought to the last man, because they knew what the Russians would do to them.

    Doesn’t that just prove that torture works?

  13. 13
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I don’t know why, but his comments strike me as something like just going with the flow. Sailing the current political winds, as it were.

    Of course, the schadenfreude of the GOP’s darling General agreeing with the Democratic President is immense, but knowing we’re still mired in the wars is depressing at the same time.

  14. 14
    The Other Steve says:

    I really don’t understand why they think Petraeus is a Republican.

  15. 15
    r€nato says:

    @The Other Steve:

    simple.

    Rule 1) All members of the military are Republicans. Generals and admirals, doubly so.

    Rule 2) In the rare event one should find a member of the military who claims not to be a Republican, remember the saying of the great military hero Rush Limbaugh: he’s a ‘phony soldier’.

  16. 16
    gex says:

    bloffers

    I read this as a type for bloggers, but I like the phrase “wingnut bloffers”. The nonsensical aspects of it neatly parallel their writing and their worldview.

  17. 17
    jenniebee says:

    I know that Eisenhower refused even to vote while he retained his commission because he believed so strongly in civilian control of the military.

    As for Petreus being a Republican, I’m sure he’d be whatever for whatever party wanted to bump his career up another notch.

  18. 18

    Judging from the number of times that Obama has backed down or reversed himself from his pre-President days in all matters military and intelligence, I’d say the coup has already taken place.

  19. 19
    Jay C says:

    IIRC, the rules regarding the participation of active-duty military officers in politics were changed some time back, so that situations like McClellan’s in 1864 or Eisenhower’s in 1952 can’t happen any more – officers above a certain rank, I believe, must wait a set number of years after retirement (5? 10?) to run for any public office. I recall this being cited, one way or another, when Wes Clark was making noises about running for President, or something, and about how he would have had to wait til 2008 – when, fortunately, a qualified civilian showed up…

  20. 20

    One Republican I know suggested that actor Gary Sinise might be our savior. According to news reports, he’s part of an underground group of conservatives in Hollywood—an act of bravery in itself.

    Good Christ. If she weren’t a former Bushite (and a major player in the McPalin Disaster), I’d think this was a prize-winning example of satire.

    It’s also worth keeping in mind the words of Bonnie Tyler when we imagine the task at hand for the Republican Party:
    Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need. I need a hero.

    Wow.

  21. 21
    El Cid says:

    Oh garwsh.

    Richard Clarke opens another can of whoop-ass on the Cheney / Bush Jr. administration in “tomorrow’s” Washington Post.

    You really have to read the whole thing at the link.

    ***************************

    The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse

    By Richard A. Clarke
    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    …listening to Cheney and Rice, it seems that they want to be excused for the measures they authorized after the attacks on the grounds that 9/11 was traumatic. “If you were there in a position of authority and watched Americans drop out of eighty-story buildings because these murderous tyrants went after innocent people,” Rice said in her recent comments, “then you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again.”

    I have little sympathy for this argument. Yes, we went for days with little sleep, and we all assumed that more attacks were coming. But the decisions that Bush officials made in the following months and years — on Iraq, on detentions, on interrogations, on wiretapping — were not appropriate.

    Careful analysis could have replaced the impulse to break all the rules, even more so because the Sept. 11 attacks, though horrifying, should not have surprised senior officials. Cheney’s admission that 9/11 caused him to reassess the threats to the nation only underscores how, for months, top officials had ignored warnings from the CIA and the NSC staff that urgent action was needed to preempt a major al-Qaeda attack.

    Thus, when Bush’s inner circle first really came to grips with the threat of terrorism, they did so in a state of shock — a bad state in which to develop a coherent response. Fearful of new attacks, they authorized the most extreme measures available, without assessing whether they were really a good idea.

    I believe this zeal stemmed in part from concerns about the 2004 presidential election. Many in the White House feared that their inaction prior to the attacks would be publicly detailed before the next vote — which is why they resisted the 9/11 commission — and that a second attack would eliminate any chance of a second Bush term. So they decided to leave no doubt that they had done everything imaginable…

    …Yes, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice may have been surprised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — but it was because they had not listened. And their surprise led them to adopt extreme counterterrorism techniques — but it was because they rejected, without analysis, the tactics the Clinton administration had used. The measures they uncritically adopted, which they simply assumed were the best available, were in fact unnecessary and counterproductive.

    “I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities,” Cheney said in his recent speech.

    But this defense does not stand up. The Bush administration’s response actually undermined the principles and values America has always stood for in the world, values that should have survived this traumatic event.

    The White House thought that 9/11 changed everything. It may have changed many things, but it did not change the Constitution, which the vice president, the national security adviser and all of us who were in the White House that tragic day had pledged to protect and preserve.

  22. 22
    Jay C says:

    One more example of a military figure running for President: Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock was the Democratic candidate in 1880 while still in the Army. Didn’t help, though: he lost to James Garfield by a tidy margin.

  23. 23
    LD50 says:

    “Why does David Petraeus hate America?”

    Not only that — he’s being downright shrill.

  24. 24
    LD50 says:

    Anyone with half a god damned brain knows why the military does not torture, beyond the fact it is wrong and against the Geneva conventions. Read some history about the end of WWII when the Germans were rushing to surrender to the US while on the eastern front they fought to the last man, because they knew what the Russians would do to them.

    Tho to be fair, the Russians were going to ‘do those things’ to the Germans because the Germans just spent 4 years doing things to the Russians which were at least as bad.

  25. 25
    Comrade Baron Elmo says:

    Whoa. That Richard Clarke editorial is twelve kinds of win.

    I used to dislike him intensely, but damn if he hasn’t turned into a major Good Guy. I only hope Obama has Clarke’s number in his Rolodex.

  26. 26
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    @Bob In Pacifica: He’s just another pragmatist making the wrong decisions for the right reasons.

  27. 27
    srv says:

    MacArthur offered himself to Republican insiders for being drafted in 1944 (during the war), 1948, and of course 1952. Eisenhower was still serving in Europe when a Republican delegation came to entice him.

  28. 28
    PeakVT says:

    Clarke: Yes, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice may have been surprised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — but it was because they had not listened.

    This rather important point has gone straight down the memory hole. Oh, well.

  29. 29
    burnspbesq says:

    Be sure to click through the link in Clarke’s article to The Daily Beast. Well worth the time.

    Why David Addington is not under indictment is entirely beyond me.

  30. 30
    JD Rhoades says:

    @Comrade Baron Elmo:

    Anyone want to take bets on which cliche(s) will be trotted out to smear Clarke in the next week or so?

    (1) He’s just trying to promote a book;
    (2) He’s bitter and disgruntled;
    (3) He sounds just like a left-wing blogger!
    (4) Why didn’t he speak up at the time?

    Have I missed any?

  31. 31
    LD50 says:

    @Comrade Baron Elmo:
    Anyone want to take bets on which cliche(s) will be trotted out to smear Clarke in the next week or so?
    (1) He’s just trying to promote a book;
    (2) He’s bitter and disgruntled;
    (3) He sounds just like a left-wing blogger!
    (4) Why didn’t he speak up at the time?
    Have I missed any?

    Have ‘hates America’ and ‘wants the terrorists to win’ gone totally out of fashion yet?

  32. 32
    JD Rhoades says:

    @LD50:

    Ah, found the quote they’re going to use:

    Camps were established around the world, notably in Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners were held without being charged or tried. They became symbols of American overreach, held up as proof that al-Qaeda’s anti-American propaganda was right.

    The wingnut meme is going to be “Richard Clarke says Al-Qaeda was right.” I gar-on-tee.

    You heard it here first.

  33. 33
    JDM says:

    Wasn’t MacArthur fired by Truman during Korea for insubordination, but also because MacArthur saw himself as a Republican presidential candidate and was busy making war policy while he was still a general, in derogation of Truman’s legit Article 2 powers after Congress authorized the “police action”, putatively under the War Powers Clause of Article1?

  34. 34
    LD50 says:

    @JD Rhoades:

    Yes. That quote will be boiled down and cited as this:

    … al-Qaeda’s anti-American propaganda was right.

    What about “doesn’t support our troops”? Is that too 2003?

  35. 35
    Nick the Australian says:

    @The Other Steve:
    A quick Google search shows that Petraeus has referred to himself before as a “Rockefeller Republican”.

    So… yeah, actually, it’s quite possible he’s switched parties since then.

  36. 36
    Brachiator says:

    Former Bush communications person Nicole Wallace (along with others) has spoken of Petraeus as a possible Republican nominee in 2012.

    Citizen: General Petraeus, what do you know about fixing the national economy?

    Gen.Petraeus: Uhh (mumble, mumble, fumble).

    Citizen: OK, then. Thanks for playing.

    Wiingnuts live in a special place in which nothing matters except banning abortions, keeping marriage away from teh gays, and bombing the crap out of Iran and any other country that makes us unhappy.

    The American people have turned against this foolishness, for now. But a wild card is the insanely childish behavior of the leaders of countries like N. Korea and Iran. They didn’t learn anything from how we blundered into Iraq, even though things still ended up with Saddam Hussein being toppled.

  37. 37
    amocz says:

    @John Cole:
    When the story of conditions at Abu Ghraib broke, one of the first reactions that I remember seeing was by a “senior military officer” pointing out that the Geneva Conventions, far from being “quaint and outmoded”, were a protection for American military personnel in the event of capture, with the implicit idea that this was so completely understood by members of the chain of command in Iraq that it lent plausibility to “bad apple” theory that the military was pushing at the time. The idea that captured American soldiers would be deliberately placed in jeopardy of atrocities involving power tools, in pursuit of something so ephemeral as “actionable intelligence”, was seen as an idea so inherently stupid and counterproductive that it could only have been entertained by a bunch of night shift grunts running amok.
    Time has not dealt kindly with this theory of “military intelligence”, in the sense of the ability of military officers to recognise and refuse to carry out illegal and immoral orders: the “grunts on the night shift” were in the OVP and Pentagon, their civilian REMF asses were about as far from being “on the line” as you can get, and the SOP of all professional (read, “careerist”) military officers, with eyes only for that promotion or that next star, turns out to go by the acronyms CYA and STFU. The effect of these revelations, on top of the PTSD, the “stop-loss” orders and the multiple tours, on the morale of the average soldier is something I can speculate about, but not know for sure.
    I only know that we are living in an Orwellian age, where official policies are consciously given names which imply the opposite of their actual effects. “No Child Left Behind”, “The Clear Skies Act” are two well-known examples. “Support Our Troops” is another such slogan, the effect of which is to end discussion of exactly which policies would be in the interests of “the troops”, in favor of “support” for policies that place them at much greater risk. The greatest risk a soldier faces is that his life will be thrown away and wasted in pursuit of a goal that is inherenly unattainable. That is the question that the people who flaunt “Support Our Troops” magnets on their SUV’s desperately want to cut off, because at some level they suspect that the answer would not be good for their cause.

  38. 38
    BC says:

    American history is that a minority party will turn to a military “hero” as presidential candidate because that’s the only way to win. Zachary Taylor (Tippecanoe guy) was pretty much apolitical, but the Whigs were successful in wooing him to run for president. Fat good it did poor Zack, he died shortly after his inauguration and we had John Tyler as president (which, IIRC, was our first vice president elevated to president, so Democrats implied that he really couldn’t assume the presidency – don’t know who would have been presidenting if Tyler didn’t, but interesting still). The Democrats of that time were pretty much just as bad as Republican today – but they were the conservatives of the time and believed that the Constitution had to be followed literally, which is why they were against the Erie Canal and other infrastructure being built by Federal Govt. Our history of the period 1832-1848 seems to have some interesting parallels to today.

  39. 39
    Shade Tail says:

    @LD50:

    Tho to be fair, the Russians were going to ‘do those things’ to the Germans because the Germans just spent 4 years doing things to the Russians which were at least as bad.

    Considering that Stalin was in charge of Russia back then, I’m not so sure it was merely ‘eye-for-an-eye’ retribution. But in any case, that point proves Mr. Cole’s statement even further. The Nazis tortured their prisoners, and their troops paid the price.

  40. 40
    Short Bus Bully says:

    If you’re really interested in the complex relationship between a standing military and the politicians that ostensibly order them around and how that can all go incredibly wrong, here is the book for you: http://www.amazon.com/German-1.....038;sr=1-1

    Details the complex relationship between Hitler and his generals from well before the war clear through to the end. The German General Staff at that time were some of the greatest military minds in the world but they could not come to terms with their crazy elected leader and did not know what to do when he started leading their country into ruin. Truly an amazing read.

    This is obviously not the same situation that the U.S. faces with Obama and his generals, but the tensions and political questions are relevant for any nation that has a volunteer service and elected civilian leaders so it applies everywhere.

  41. 41
    Bostondreams says:

    So, I decided, for shits and giggles, to pop over to Free Republic and see what they were saying. Oh my goodness.
    -Petraeus is wrong. (That is an actual quote)
    -Petraeus is secretly a Democrat.
    -Petraeus HAS to say that.
    -Petraeus is incompetent stupid.
    -Obama is intimidating him.
    -Petraeus is obviously just kissing ass.
    -Obama is gay and being ‘blackmaled’ by our enemies, and he is making the officers take loyalty oaths before he betrays the military, in order to forestall a coup (seriously. That is essentially what one poster said; it’s my favorite one).

    The best bit is this idea that if we bring terrorists to American soil, they will automatically go free. These MORONS seem to forget that we already HAVE terrorists in our prisons.

    How do these people actually think, as their brains seem barely beyond functional?

  42. 42
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    This one hurts, believe me. When it’s someone like Colin Powell who was already seen as so moderate as to be a DFH, then you hear the reaction loud and clear. It’s when you hear ( crickets ) as a reaction that you know it’s bad, in this case because they’re in a bind about criticizing Petraeus because they’ve built him up as a wingnut cipher-god, or because they’re so surprised and unprepared. Or whatever.

  43. 43
    John Cole says:

    @Shade Tail: Exactly. This is not a hard concept to follow.

  44. 44
    Terry says:

    Zachary Taylor (Tippecanoe guy) was pretty much apolitical, but the Whigs were successful in wooing him to run for president. Fat good it did poor Zack, he died shortly after his inauguration and we had John Tyler as president (which, IIRC, was our first vice president elevated to president, so Democrats implied that he really couldn’t assume the presidency – don’t know who would have been presidenting if Tyler didn’t, but interesting still).

    You’ve confused Taylor with William Henry Harrison. Although Taylor’s story was similar — war hero Whig who died in office.

  45. 45
    Anne Laurie says:

    Anyone want to take bets on which cliche(s) will be trotted out to smear Clarke in the next week or so?

    Guy’s never been married, and he’s known to take an interest in encouraging young male interns to consider a career working for the government. No wonder, the fReichtards will mutter, a candy-arsed weak sister like Clarke doesn’t want to hurt the terrists’ feelings…

    I remember wondering why this particular calumny never surfaced when Against All Enemies was first published. Certainly the GOP Kw33r-Feer(tm) has only gotten stronger & ranker over the last five years. But on the other hand, since Rove didn’t use it then, maybe Clarke’s got enough information to have established a MAD stand-off?

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @Shade Tail:

    The Nazis tortured their prisoners, and their troops paid the price.

    Well, uh, the Nazis sometimes tortured anybody they could get their hands on, and they laid waste to Mother Russia was they waged war in the East. And when the Russians snarled back, German civilians paid a price, as did German troops.

    The Japanese often resorted to torture, but I have not read that it was repaid to them to the same degree.

  47. 47
    Postlethwaite Windschitl says:

    I wouldn’t be too hasty to assume that Petraeus is NOT a Republican wingnut. Remember his pro-“surge” publicity blitz on Fox News? Remember how he didn’t do any other one-on-one interviews on other channels? An interesting choice on his part, no?

    There’s a very good chance that Petraeus is a grade-A, 110% pure Republican.

  48. 48
    stickler says:

    JDM:

    Wasn’t MacArthur fired by Truman during Korea for insubordination, but also because MacArthur saw himself as a Republican presidential candidate and was busy making war policy while he was still a general…

    Pretty much. MacArthur had been pondering a run for the White House pretty much forever, and he was being insubordinate in a very public way, talking to the newspapers about that backwoods hick in the Oval Office.

    Re: McClellan – the best note ever sent by a President to one of his commanders, was from Lincoln to McClellan: “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.” Ah, Little Mac.

  49. 49
    omen says:

    via cq, a right leaning, ex-cia agent, while critical of her politics, backs pelosi’s contention that the cia regularly misleads congress:

    A former deep-cover CIA operative says the spy agency’s congressional briefers routinely shade the truth or hide facts altogether from congressional overseers.

    “They mumble, they dissemble, and there’s a lot of ‘on the one hand . . .'” said the retired official, who spent 25 years as a CIA operations officer but now writes blistering, unauthorized critiques of the spy agency using the pen name “Ishmael Jones.”

    […]

    Reports that CIA managers were outraged or demoralized by the water-boarding controversy are wrong, Jones also maintained. To the contrary, he said, they felt that revelations of their interrogators roughing up, or even torturing, detainees made them look tough.

    “The interrogations controversy has served the CIA bureaucracy,” Jones asserted. “A top goal of bureaucracy is to look busy, and whether one agrees with the interrogation methods or not, the impression given is that the CIA is both busy and aggressive.”

    Jones added: “It relishes this ‘cowboy’ image, and its greatest fear is that the taxpayer might figure out how little it actually is doing.

  50. 50
    TR says:

    Zachary Taylor (Tippecanoe guy) was pretty much apolitical, but the Whigs were successful in wooing him to run for president. Fat good it did poor Zack, he died shortly after his inauguration and we had John Tyler as president

    You’ve confused William Henry Harrison with Zachary Taylor.

    WHH was the hero of the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe. He’s the one who caught pnuemonia at his inauguration and died 30 days later, leaving the presidency to John Tyler.

    Zachary Taylor came two presidents after Tyler. Taylor had been a general in the Mexican-American War. He died 16 months into his term from gastrointestinal problems, and his VP Millard Fillmore took over.

  51. 51
    Jay C says:

    @TR:

    And more historical minutiae: WH Harrison (“Old Tip”) had been long retired from military service when he ran for President in 1840. OTOH, Zachary Taylor (“Old Rough and Ready“) seems to have run in 1848, and been elected, while still a serving officer. As did Grant in 1868, too (I think).

  52. 52
    A. Velez says:

    We as an american institution supposely govern by the people, for the people, we were duped by an incompetent administration who were above the law–and still think thet are. I guess that is what happens when you steal an election.

    As for Rush Limbaugh, he is a coward, anyone can get a mic and talk crap. I don’t remember he being in the military. I don’t remember he serving in any public office. If he really means any of the crap that comes out of his mouth, why doesn’t he run for public office. Oh yeah, he is a capitalist and serving your country doesn’t pay as much as what he is doing now–being an instigator and a puppet master. As a public servant he is also employed by the taxpayers. Oops.

    God, how I love America — may we never follow the path of Rome.

  53. 53
    Nutella says:

    It is illegal for any uniformed servicemember to participate in any partisan political activity. That may be why the general’s statement was phrased somewhat vaguely. He can state his opinion on military matters or non-partisan political matters any time he likes but saying anything indicating any preference for any Republican or Democratic policy is illegal.

    A link with basic info on this is

    http://usmilitary.about.com/cs.....litics.htm

  54. 54
    mclaren says:

    Time of war? We’re not at war. A handful of kooks hijacked 3 planes. That doesn’t make America “at war” with anyone.

    American troops are occupying Iraq. They’re not at war with anyone. American drones are murdering innocent civilians indiscriminately in Afghanistan, but that’s just indiscriminate murder. We’re not “at war” with Afghanistan.

    This nonsense of calling everything a “war” has got to stop. If we’re involved in a “war on terror,” then we’re also invovled in in a “war on drugs” and we’re also involved in a “war on violent crime.” So where does it stop? War, war, war, war, war, war everywhere, all the time, against everything? Are we at war against global warming? Are we at war against pollution? Are we at war against Peak Oil? People have claimed we are. If we go by what people claim, then America is involved in a dozen different types of “war” against abstractions ranging from drug addition to bad eduction (in 1993 a report on America’s failing K-12 schools described the situation as “the moral equivalent of war.” Everything is a war, apparently, including kindergarten.) Failures in community health planning have been called “the moral equivalent of war.”

    This is all just bullshit rhetoric and wild hyperbole. This isn’t a “time of war.” People who talk about a “war on terror” are spouting hype to push their own nutty far-right agenda, which includes repealing the constitution, legalizing torture, and cloaking all government actions with impenetrable secrecy in order to deter criticism by the political opposition. If the “war on terror” is really a war, riddle me this, Batman — when does it end? How do we know we’ve won? Under what circumstances do we declare victory? If the answer is “never” and “we don’t know,” then it’s not a war, bubba.

    We need to stop buying into this “time of war” nonsense. There is no “war on terror.” Obama has explicitly disavowed that fantasy, and countless commentators and military experts have decried the delusion that American can be engaged in any kind of “war” against an abstract noun like terrorism.

  55. 55
    JHinAZ says:

    A couple of things – I work at a VA hospital. Every other member of the “team” I work with is retired military (or semi-lifer military, i.e., 9.5 years to make Captain).

    I disagree with Lola:
    “The military seems pretty repulsed by torture as a group.”

    When these guys get together to talk, it is all torture, all the time. They really do go on about how all the liberals are worried about how we might “hurt” some a-hole who wants to kill us all. Comments like “it’s a good thing I’m not armed or that bitch would be dead” (uproarious laughter); “do not hesitate to ventilate” (referring to anyone crossing the Mexican-American border that coughs – this is perceived as a swine flu “assault” requiring deadly force – i.e., “ventilating” them with a handgun – also met with uproarious laughter)

    From everything I’ve seen from these guys, the following statement is absolutely true.

    “And there’s an unspoken assumption on their part that everyone in the military itself wants this, that all good red-blooded servicemen want torture, Gitmo, plans for bombing Iran, and so on, to be back on the table. That they hate working for a dirty fucking hippie like Obama.”

    These guys are all troglodytes that get all their “news” from Rush, Hannity, Beck and Fox noise. So don’t make any hard bets that our military has anything but throwbacks in it . . .

  56. 56
    flyerhawk says:

    Zachary Taylor also fits somewhat into the description that DougJ was referring to. His run for President around his opposition to the Mexican War, a war he was very popular because of. Both he and Winfield Scott became highly critical of the war as a war of aggression and opportunity. Scott was extremely vociferous about it and ruined his chances for the White House because of that.

    I believe that Grant may have been still in the military when he ran for President as well but he obviously was a member of the ruling party.

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