P4

Michael Hastings, the guy whose reporting spelled the end of General Stanley McChrystal’s career, takes a look at Petraeus:

But the warning signs about Petreaus’ core dishonesty have been around for years. Here’s a brief summary: We can start with the persistent questions critics have raised about his Bronze Star for Valor. Or, that in 2004, during the middle of a presidential election, Petraeus wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post supporting President Bush and saying that the Iraq policy was working. The policy wasn’t working, but Bush repaid the general’s political advocacy by giving him the top job in the war three years later.
There’s his war record in Iraq, starting when he headed up the Iraqi security force training program in 2004. He’s more or less skated on that, including all the weapons he lost, the insane corruption, and the fact that he essentially armed and trained what later became known as “Iraqi death squads.” On his final Iraq tour, during the so-called Surge, he pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.

The whole thing is worth a read. In 20/20 hindsight, the Afghanistan surge was probably the biggest mistake of Obama’s Presidency, so far, and Petraeus is the guy who sold it.






86 replies
  1. 1
    beltane says:

    You mean to say that when all the votes are counted General Petraeus really was General Betray-us?

  2. 2
    Robin G. says:

    Funny, how all this information was available at the time, but the MSM is only saying it now.

  3. 3
    Xenos says:

    As for the idiotic Afghan surge, Petreus sold it knowing it was bunk, and Obama bought it knowing it was bunk, because the American public, addicted to bunk, insisted on it. No politician admitting that Afghanistan has been a lost cause since 2005 could have been elected in 2008. Or in 2012. Or probably even in 2016.

    At least we have kept the carnage down by an order of magnitude compared to Vietnam.

  4. 4
    Alex S. says:

    First Lance Armstrong, now Petraeus… where can a white man still get his share?

  5. 5
    Narcissus says:

    Man when was the last time we had a noteworthy General who wasn’t an asshole

    Shinseki, maybe

  6. 6
    aimai says:

    Atrios already pulled the money quote:

    Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.

    The guy was running a huge, off the books, civilian slush playground where he put up whoever he wanted for as long as he wanted. Its unbelievable to me, reading the account of how he was surrounded by a pack of supporters and hangers on–its like reading about one of Alexander’s Satrapys gone wrong.

    aimai

  7. 7
    Mark S. says:

    On his final Iraq tour, during the so-called Surge, he pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.

    They didn’t need much convincing.

  8. 8
    Schlemizel says:

    I love having Obama as my President but the Afghanistan surge was not the biggest mistake of his first term.

    Meanwhile, the great tongue bath has begun! Ms. Schlemizel is up early today so I am being abused with the F’in TODAY show. First some bozo who was the generals spokesman (how the hell do you get a cush job like that). Anyway Bozo was in full clown regalia (minus only the red nose and orange hair) was lobbed softballs that he drove out of the park. The final insult was Matt lausey interviewing Newt F’ing Gingrich about what a great man the General was, what he thought of the election (gosh I wonder??) about his book on Geo. Washington and if he thought Obama was Washington-like enough

  9. 9
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Regarding MoveOn, the Hippies were right yet again. They’re pretty much right about everything, but never listened to.

  10. 10
    Mark S. says:

    @aimai:

    There was something Ike said on his way out. Can’t remember now, probably “USA! USA!”

  11. 11
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @Schlemizel:

    I love having Obama as my President but the Afghanistan surge was not the biggest mistake of his first term.

    Because it wasn’t a mistake or because he had bigger mistakes?

  12. 12
    Valdivia says:

    I read that last night. Pretty brutal. This piece by Ackerman makes a nice companion, how he got seduced by the cult of P4.

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroo.....us-cult-2/

  13. 13
    Valdivia says:

    @aimai:

    just saw on Twitter that it was the Kagans. Also: loved how in the piece Ricks gets a brunt of the guilt for promoting her into a super star with credibility.

  14. 14
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    You forgot Drones!

    The Afghanistan surge was something Obama talked about when he ran for president. It didn’t belong to Petraeus.

  15. 15
    hep kitty says:

    @The Tragically Flip: Word, although I thought the ad was poorly done and weak in the sense that, if you’re going to do a full page ad like that, why not put Rumsfeld up there?

    And Pelosi had to get all outraged about it and give us all a good talking to.

    Cuz we’re right, because we’re always right, we get rapped on the knuckles and sent to bed without supper.

    It would be so much easier to be an Fox-mainlining idiot.

  16. 16
    Schlemizel says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    Sadly, the latter. it was not is biggest mistake

  17. 17
    Schlemizel says:

    @hep kitty: It would be so much easier to be an Fox-mainlining idiot

    Funny how many times I have thought that. Except for the always angry part they really have it easy. If doctors ever perfect brain transplants they should get as many fox views as possible for donors – those brains have no wear and tear on them, factory new with no use

  18. 18
    Napoleon says:

    Fallows has hinted that he is going to do a longer piece on this issue and that it would not be pretty.

  19. 19
    Mark S. says:

    My parents, who are Fox-mainlining idiots, told me yesterday that Obama spends 90% of GDP on entitlements.

  20. 20
    aimai says:

    I don’t know why people are getting upset that Petraeus’s actual war record, like the actual wars, is a total lie. Or faulting Obama for essentially promoting the guy out of his comfort zone which I actually see as another move, like putting Huntsman in as Ambassador, that utterly destroyed a potential political enemy.

    Its obvious that Petraeus saw himself as another Ceasar, also someone who was rumored to have fucked everything and anyone that moved. This won’t stop the right wing’s love affair with Generals and with War. Now Petraeus can join the legion of good men brought low by a woman’s wiles, and military men prevented from “doing what is necessary” by the hippies and liberals.

    If you read the comment section underneath the Ackerman piece, in which Ackerman confesses just how easily he was seduced by a little ego massage and the fantasy that a top General doesn’t just want to kill everything that gets in his way of being the top top General, you will find people saying things like “Obama prevented us from using COIN in Afghanistan like Petraeus did sucessfully in Iraq.” Apparently the self informed public simply can’t figure out just how complicated our politics and our wars are and although they read up on things and know, in one sense of the word, that Petraeus was the author of COIN in Afghanistan as well as Iraq they can’t bring themselves to admit that its failures in execution are also his failure as a General.

    I’m not saying this to excuse Obama for having to continue the war in AFghanistan after cleaning up the mess in Iraq (as much as it could be cleaned up). But the fact of the matter is the American Public insists on being lied to about war, death, and its military leadership. They really can’t handle the truth about how many people we killed, or how uselessly, or how carelessly, or how insolently. And they especially can’t handle grasping just how venal and self serving the military is, especially in the upper ranks.

    aimai

  21. 21
    Suffern ACE says:

    “But Petraeus’ crash is more significant than the latest nonsense sex scandal. As President Obama says, our decade of war is coming to an end. The reputations of the men who were intimately involved in these years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters. McChrystal, Caldwell, and now Petraeus — the era of the celebrity general is over.”

    Lol. Really? All those little men in the press corps who get boners for generals (and their biographers apparently) are washed up, too? We’ll never hear from them again, I’m sure.

  22. 22
    redshirt says:

    Time for a 30 Cube of Bud Light Lime y’all!

  23. 23
    Soylent Green is FReepers says:

    @Xenos: This. Obama went for the Afghanistan surge in order to create political cover for shutting down Iraq, to prove that he was for “good wars” instead of being “anti war”. The American public has become convinced that we have to occupy every tinpot dictatorship that rattles a saber in our general direction or else… Hitler.

  24. 24
    David in NY says:

    “Petraeus saw himself as another Ceasar”

    Tinpot Douglas MacArthur, more like.

  25. 25
    Warren Terra says:

    I’m with Xenos: The Afghan Surge was a military and a strategic (and of course a human) waste, but it was a political necessity, possibly even an act of political brilliance. By deploying Petraeus and the magic, talismanic word “surge” Obama was able to convince all the useless mainstream pundits that he’d done everything he could to salvage Afghanistan – a necessary precondition for getting the heck out of there. Had he simply declared a withdrawal without the Surge, he would have been accused of betraying our brave soldiers. Obama’s options basically were a withdrawal at the cost of preceding it with a surge, or continued rolling disaster. He chose the former.

  26. 26
    aimai says:

    @Warren Terra:
    I agree with you, WT. The way the phrase “the surge” is thrown around in worshipful, hushed tones just completely gobsmacks me. As I recall, having lived through it as a grownup in real time, it was a hail mary head fake on the part of Bush et al in Iraq, it didn’t “succeed” so much as it distracted voters and media from the original war crime that was starting the war in the first place. Ditto Afghanistan. If you have to “surge” your troops it just means you didn’t calculate correctly for your military needs in the first place.

    I remember thinking at the time its like driving a school bus off a cliff and demanding that the parents of the dying children admire the way the bus driver kept his foot on the pedal all the way down.

    aimai

  27. 27
    Punchy says:

    What does “P4” mean?

  28. 28
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Suffern ACE: @aimai: this of course is how we can tell that Petraus is a Great Man. Normally, an affair is seen as a personal failing. But in the case of the great general, haven’t we all failed?

  29. 29
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @David in NY:

    Tinpot Douglas MacArthur, more like.

    Even MacArthur was a tinpot version of his own image. Truman did the country a real solid firing that turd. Fucker wanted to nuke the North Koreans. Psychopath.

  30. 30
    Punchy says:

    @Mark S.: My Fox-addicted sister told me yesterday that abortions are all that Planned Parenthood does, and the only reason that Obama won was because PP gave Obama enough money to win (I wish I was exaggerating, but alas….).

  31. 31
    David in NY says:

    Hey, two uses of “tinpot” already this thread. One for Petraeus (mine), one for the Afghan dictatorship (by Soylent Green is Freepers). Somehow seems the key word in all this, except I never heard of a “tinpot” girlfriend.

  32. 32
    WarMunchkin says:

    @aimai: The Ackerman piece should have come out long ago. To me, the big mystery of this whole thing is why a sex scandal is what triggers a narrative of dishonesty or lack of character. In my view, a sex scandal is personal, private and inconsequential, and the greatest indictment of Petraeus is his professional record both as a general and at Langley.

    But I disagree with you on the point that the American public insists on being lied to — I think that reduces the issue too much. Most people are low-information people when it comes to issues of national security/civil liberties/military, so they pretty much just pick up the idea that Petraeus was a hero. By a completely unscientific facebook poll, I saw a lot of people all sad that “America lost a hero”. And it’s not that they insist on being lied to, it’s more about being uncritical, and more to the point – it’s unacceptable in our society to be critical of certain institutions. So they don’t respond to Petraeus with skepticism because it doesn’t occur to them to do so.

  33. 33
    The Tragically Flip says:

    My amateur armchair theory is that Generals who become generals in mostly-peacetime are almost uniformly careerist backstabbing assholes. Only big wars like WW2 weed these shitheels out and let some competent officers from the midranks rise to the top jobs because they’re actually brilliant at leading and such but shitty at bootlicking.

    Wars seem to generally start with incompetent military leadership who fuck up royaly, get shitcanned, and eventually replaced with people good at these jobs.

  34. 34
    Maude says:

    @David in NY:
    Without the flair and ability to make the public adore him.
    Petraeus was a paper general. He looked good on paper.

  35. 35
    Baud says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    Only big wars like WW2 weed these shitheels out and let some competent officers from the midranks rise to the top jobs

    I have a great solution to this problem. /neocon

  36. 36
    WarMunchkin says:

    Holy crap, that article Atrios linked contains this gem:

    At the CIA, Petraeus still retained a big staff and the perks of high office, including a staffer to accompany him on his morning runs when traveling and a standing order to ensure he had fresh, sliced pineapple on the road before he turned in for bed.

  37. 37
    Suffern ACE says:

    @WarMunchkin: look, if it takes a sex scandal for certain people to reevaluate the man and his career accomplishments, I guess we’ll have to take what we can get.

  38. 38
    El Cid says:

    YES BUT YOU WILL ADMIT THAT THE SURGE IS WORKING. YOU WILL ADMIT THAT THE SURGE IS WORKING. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE SURGE IS WORKING.

  39. 39
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @Maude:

    Without the flair and ability to make the public adore him.

    He was no slouch in terms of public adoration, but I think he knew having the plebs love him was unimportant compared to having the Serious Villagers love him, which made criticism him practically treason as MoveOn found out.

  40. 40
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Punchy: I assume it’s short for “Petraeus 4-Star”.

    Just a guess.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  41. 41
    wrb says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Another thing that gets missed is that in handing his opponent the State portfolio, Obama agreed to give Hillary a lot of authority. She and the military were pro-surge, Biden anti. The amount of time it took Obama to finally decide to go ahead with it suggests he was pretty dubious.

  42. 42
    Palli says:

    @Maude:
    Betrayus looked good in a green suit with pins stuck in him.

  43. 43
    Elie says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    The sex scandal IS private, of course. But its also a TELL for Petraeu’s sense of risk taking and arrogance. This is a guy who remember, knows a heck of a lot about the US military (having just retired as a head honcho), AND is head of THE US spy agency. He is in charge of a lot of critical information and power and he completely blew it off. In the WSJ they talked about Broadwell having access to secure documents — though no evidence that Petraeus gave them to her — but still — she was at least given enough access to secure them.

    This is a big deal. Sure, sex is private but when a relationship becomes openly known – when one of the parties starts to behave erratically, involving others or threatening others – well, its out of that private sphere then, isnt it? And human emotions and frailty always make these relationships fraught for people with positions of power and influence. It cannot and will not be just a “personal thing”.

    It is not the first nor will it be the last time a powerful person has an affair. We will see going forward how this lapse was further reflected in other judgements that he made. My guess is that there is more where that came from and that this is going to get a lot messier. As for his testifying to Congress about Benghazi, I would be very cautious with this guy if I am the Obama administration… he will be looking for a variety of lifelines to ressurect his reputation and absolve himself of any lapses during his tenure. I am glad that he has already resigned and we all know why. No cheap lifelines for this guy…he does not deserve them.

  44. 44
    wrb says:

    @Punchy:

    Wiki has the answer. Leading suggestions:

    P4 gauge for model railways
    P4 Radio Hele Norge (PFI), a Norwegian radio company
    P4 Spółka z o.o., a Polish phone operator
    P 4 class torpedo boat operated by the Chinese Navy
    Fairey P.4/34, a United Kingdom bomber developed in the 1930s
    Peugeot P4, a 4-wheel-drive unarmoured light vehicle used by the Military of France
    Consolidated QP-4 Privateer, a target drone conversion of the United States Navy’s PB4Y-2 patrol aircraft.
    Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore
    Aruba, International Telecommunications Union callsign
    Tetraphosphorus, or white phosphorus, an allotrope of phosphorus
    Group p4, the plane symmetry group Wallpaper group p4
    Progesterone (Pregn-4-ene-3,20-dione), a steroid hormone
    P4, the fourth moon of Pluto, discovered in 2011
    330 P4, a Ferrari automobile
    Dewoitine P-4, a French aircraft made by Dewoitine
    Pilatus P-4, a Swiss airplane designed during the 1940s
    P4- (plus three letters) is Aruba’s aircraft registration prefix
    Rover P4, a series of British cars of the 50s and 60s
    P4 road (Latvia), a first class State road connecting Riga and Ērgļi
    Р 04, Roman script: R 04 road in Ukraine, a state regional road connecting Kiev and Zvenyhorodka

  45. 45
    BobS says:

    @Punchy: I have a Fox-watching/Limbaugh-listening idiot at work who’s always challenging me with the newest work of fiction the right-wing echo chamber has touted. I tell her she has to get online and get me a link to some non-right wing original source (for instance, the actual executive order Obama allegedly signed ordering the US to comply with Agenda 21, which I’ve just recently discovered is on the wingnut list of monsters under the bed) and then we’ll talk. It cuts our discussions mercifully short.

  46. 46
    Steeplejack says:

    @aimai:

    If you have to “surge” your troops it just means you didn’t calculate correctly for your military needs in the first place.

    This, exactly. That’s what drove me nuts about the Iraq surge at the time. It was promoted as a stroke of tactical genius, when it was fairly obvious that all we were doing was finally getting around to sending the troops and materiél we should have had in the first place. And which had been predicted by Eric Shinseki, for which he was graciously excused from further participation.

  47. 47
    Baud says:

    @BobS:

    I tell her she has to get online and get me a link to some non-right wing original source

    Best way to handle it, IMO. Debating them gives them legitimacy they don’t deserve.

  48. 48
    Steeplejack says:

    @Punchy:

    It’s one of Petraeus’s nicknames: Petraeus + four stars = P4.

    He was also known as “King David,” by the way.

  49. 49
    Mike in NC says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    My amateur armchair theory is that Generals who become generals in mostly-peacetime are almost uniformly careerist backstabbing assholes. Only big wars like WW2 weed these shitheels out and let some competent officers from the midranks rise to the top jobs because they’re actually brilliant at leading and such but shitty at bootlicking.

    That seems to be the gist of Tom Ricks’ new book “The Generals”, which covers senior Army leadership from WW2 to the present day.

  50. 50
    geg6 says:

    @Valdivia:

    Hah! For me, I read the Ackerman piece last night and now this. I always knew this guy was a sham, but once again, I am totally taken aback by the total ethical rot among these neocons and war mongers. Tom Ricks, who I always knew to be a hawk, never gave off the stink to me that this whole episode points out that he had. I can’t believe I’m so naive at my age.

  51. 51
  52. 52
    The Tragically Flip says:

    I don’t know how much stock to give the blackmail threat angle to high security people engaging in affairs, but certainly the pillowtalk sharing of documents and secrets is one concern, and the other is that I’d bet Petraeus was easy prey for a foreign intelligence honeytrap op. If he was known as a skirt chaser (as some now seem to be admitting) then the Russians, Chinese and hell, the Israelis wouldn’t hesistate to take full advantage of that.

    A CIA chief who can’t keep it in his pants? Oh yes.

  53. 53
    aimai says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has hammered this issue pretty hard. At a certain point people don’t get to consider themselves, or be considered, “low information”–what they really are is people who prefer to be lied to because it keeps them comfortable. In addition, the pushback against truth tellers and whistleblowers and skeptics among the “low information” indicates that people not only prefer to be lied to–they will spread lies and rumors and go on the attack to protect their ignorance.

    Consider the fact that Obama literally could not have been re-elected without bending over backwards on both the religious issue (man of faith, not atheist) and the militarist issue (Michelle and Jill Biden spent hundreds of man hours massaging the egos of the military and their families and creating special jobs benefits for them).

    People can’t stand to be told that there are no heroes, and certainly none among the military or the corporate elite. They prefer to believe the myth of the Cincinnatus type General than the reality that someone who rose that high not only knows where a lot of bodies are buried but probably buried a few themselves. Instinctive cynicism with respect to the military and its goals is not optional in a democracy–it should be natural. But its not. It is squelched, ever since the DFH’s lost us Vietnam, by rage on the part of the right wing and by fear of being tarred with the “spat on the vets” line by the Dems.

    aimai

  54. 54
    gene108 says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    Wars seem to generally start with incompetent military leadership who fuck up royaly, get shitcanned, and eventually replaced with people good at these jobs.

    Thanks to the dirty f’in hippies trashing the military after Vietnam, we can no longer allow any critical evaluation of our militarizes actions.

    We must unconditionally support them, no matter what they do. The private first class is a natural hero, doing heroic things, while a general must become a mythic figure; a hero of legend for our children, grandchildren and all our descendants to revere through time immemorial.

    To actually criticize the military is to invite the specter and hold open the door of the savaging of our troops the Vietnam era dirty f’in hippies inflicted on our country.

    Also, too combine this mentality with widespread media saturation by right-wingers and political ramifications for civilian leadership*, i.e. Congress, to question the military and we have our current witch’s brew of military worship; a rather fascist-like trend for what should be a secular democracy.

    *The number of politicians, who say they’ll make decisions based on what the generals tell them is sickening. It should be the other way around, the generals do what the politicians allow them to do.

  55. 55
    Some Dude says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Then I guess that makes Broadwell his Bathsheba.

  56. 56
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @gene108:

    Yeah. “Hippies spitting on Vietnam vets” is another zombie lie that cannot die.

    I also personally think it’s questionable how even Colonels and 1-2 star generals need Senate confirmation, opening up for all kinds of stupid political bullshit. It’s smart and defensible that the 3-4 stars be confirmable so the President can’t just load the military up with blind loyalists and orchestrate a military coup, but it seems to reach too low for that. You’d get better 3-4 star generals if the military could decide who the 1-2 stars were based on apolitical merit (still some intermilitary political bullshit, but adding the need to placate 60 of the 100 preening senate egos can’t help).

  57. 57
    aimai says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    I also forgot to mention the whole “Truman lost china” meme. The Democrats have been accused of having betrayed the country ever since the Marshall Plan and then China and lets not forget Iran. Its a heavy lift to expect Obama to buck the trend and still stay in power. He’s had to out jingo the jingos and he couldn’t afford to defenestrate either Petraeus or the war party.

    aimai

  58. 58
    gene108 says:

    @Elie:

    Vague memories of CIA espionage cases in the 1980’s, from my childhood, centered around CIA agents leaking info to get money to support a mistress or two.

    Extra-marital affairs are the sort of thing that can cause the government to not hand out security clearances for a very good reason. You are open to blackmail.

  59. 59
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @Xenos:

    As for the idiotic Afghan surge, Petraeus sold it knowing it was bunk, and Obama bought it knowing it was bunk, because the American public, addicted to bunk, insisted on it. No politician admitting that Afghanistan has been a lost cause since 2005 could have been elected in 2008. Or in 2012. Or probably even in 2016.

    I always figured Obama’s war policy was based on the desire to never, ever risk being exposed to an attack from the right that would distract him from his domestic agenda.

  60. 60
    El Cid says:

    @Steeplejack: Actually, the SURGE was justified to prevent the US withdrawal which would bring about an Iraqi ethnic cleansing; whereas the SURGE actually arrived as the Baghdad Shi’a vs Sunni ethnic cleansing was concluding successfully.

    There was in fact ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, with each power base going to war against the purported outgroup, and the US helped in this process by walling off neighborhoods from each other once one or the other ‘side’ drove the other out.

    It’s an astoundingly basic part of what was going on in the “SURGE” (what a disgustingly propagandistic term and summary in and of itself) and yet was rigidly maintained as invisible by the idiot SURGE-worshiping discourse we got.

  61. 61
    El Cid says:

    @…now I try to be amused: I don’t think those two versions are incompatible.

  62. 62
    Roger Moore says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    The Ackerman piece should have come out long ago. To me, the big mystery of this whole thing is why a sex scandal is what triggers a narrative of dishonesty or lack of character.

    It’s a lot easier to attack somebody on the way down than somebody who’s close to the top. My impression is that he pissed a lot of people off, but they were too afraid of him to stand up and make accusations. Now that his image is tarnished and he’s not in a position to defend himself, the knives are coming out.

    I also think you’re underestimating the damage his affair could have caused. He let his mistress see stuff she never should have seen, which shows miserable judgment for somebody who was in charge of classified information. There’s also the suspicion in the air that we don’t know everything, and there are worse problems- either worse data leaked or more mistresses- that we haven’t heard about yet.

  63. 63
    Ben Franklin says:

    King David; our newest American Caesar….

    As bad as they(Petraeus/MacArthur) are, or were, it is nothing compared to Mchrystal. That SOB still has to answer to the Ghost of Pat Tillman.

  64. 64
    gvg says:

    @Some Dude: *The number of politicians, who say they’ll make decisions based on what the generals tell them is sickening. It should be the other way around, the generals do what the politicians allow them to do.

    Actually it needs to be 2 way which is why it’s so hard to get tight. I don’t ask plumbing questions of brain surgeons nor vice versa. In our system the pols boss the generals, no question, and that also means their responsibility but frankly most elected officials have no military expertise or experience and they NEED good guidance. If many military generals tell the president and congress that invading Iraq needs more soldiers and even policemen afterwards it’s an awfully stupid president that doesn’t listen. Bush II didn’t listen and I knew he was an idiot with stupid non plans before we went in. At the same time I’ve also seen generals that tried to control the orders they were giving by leaking etc (McCrystal) and cowardly congress people who tried to not be held responsible for their votes. Well congress and the president should listen to the advice of the experts in all issues….then they have to vote and be held responsible. It’s not bad to listen, just bad to farm out the choice and always go along.
    The other side of this I’ve noted is that once the president gives the orders, our military has to obey and they usually have to convince themselves the orders will work. If they can’t personally believe it’s possible to carry out, they find a way to get out, so shortly after orders are given, there isn’t much criticism of the orders even if their was lots while the orders were being thought of. I wasn’t expecting that. the military cannot argue any policy being wrong for very long and it’s not useful to reporting or informing the public. Only retired military can keep talking. So little of the public actually knows what is a stupid military answer including me, that even those of us trying can’t spot some traps of over confidence. that congress and the president tend these days to have no military experience reflects the population. I prefer an all volunteer military but this is a downside. I also think it contributes to the possibility of over hyped military hero worship.

  65. 65
    El Tiburon says:

    It’s really amazing that ACORN and The New Black Panthers (with Soros’s backing) can install a Black Muslim as President and destroy the career of the Great Savior in 2016.

    Interesting times. Interesting times.

  66. 66
    Ben Franklin says:

    @El Tiburon:

    “destroy the career of the Great Savior in 2016.”

    I see a campaign slogan coming in 2016—–Betrayed in Benghazi !!!!!

  67. 67
    Lex says:

    the Afghanistan surge was probably the biggest mistake of Obama’s Presidency, so far

    A big mistake, true, but not his biggest. I believe those would be, in order, failure to prosecute war criminals and failure to prosecute the banksters who blew up the economy. Both have done and will continue to do enormous human and economic damage to our country and others for decades.

    And these people getting on Petraeus for having a Gmail account need to get a life. How else was he supposed to play Farmville?

  68. 68
    rikyrah says:

    somebody dropped a dime on Patreaus.

    November 11, 2012
    A Petraeus Puzzle: Were Politics Involved?
    Posted by Jane Mayer

    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/onlin.....z2C1jL80n9

  69. 69
    David in NY says:

    @geg6:

    I can’t believe I’m so naive at my age.

    I really didn’t follow Petraeus, so I guess I sort of bought into the CW — P4 an honest, competent fellow at the least.

    Astonishing when one’s usual, substantial level of cynicism is totally inadequate to the task of being a citizen.

  70. 70
    Elie says:

    @Roger Moore:

    This:

    “There’s also the suspicion in the air that we don’t know everything, and there are worse problems- either worse data leaked or more mistresses- that we haven’t heard about yet.”

  71. 71

    @rikyrah: That’s an extremely interesting article. Mayer raises some very good questions that indicate there’s potential for a lot of shenanigans.

    Sounds to me like the FBI insider was looking to score political points, and for whatever reason Cantor checked his bet. I’ll give Cantor his due: he called Mueller instead of the Fox booking agent.

  72. 72
    Chris says:

    @aimai:

    But oddly enough, no one accuses Ike of losing Cuba, or Nixon of losing Vietnam, or Reagan of losing Lebanon, or Bush of losing Palestine. Oh no! Those guys were badasses whom no foreigner would have dared piss off!

  73. 73
    El Cid says:

    @El Tiburon: Not only that, but to do so with nearly complete invisibility, since only one, maybe two New Black Panthers have been spotted anywhere and ACORN still appears to be defunct. Clearly, like vampires, they are much more powerful dead than alive.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @aimai:
    This. A thousand times this.

    I know there are good officers in the military. I actually met a couple. It’s just that in my time in the over whelming majority were assholes whose only goal is getting ahead by stomping on and fucking over everyone they can to get ahead. They never even imagined that just doing a good job might actually work.

  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    @David in NY:
    Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
    This is how I preface everything. It can make life a little less sanguine but that’s the price one pays for looking a little more realistically at the world.
    IOW It’s easier to see the bullshit when you are looking for it.

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    @El Cid:

    From what I recall of that era, it’s true that there was a large shift in what was going on in Iraq, but “THE SURGE” was actually arguably the least important part of that. The big shift came from the rise of the Sahwa (“Awakening”) movement, wherein a ton of Sunni insurgents decided that the AQI was too crazy an ally to associate with, and switched over to our side (with a little financial and political incentive, of course).

    In other words, “THE SURGE” “worked” because our enemies’ stupidity handed us another chance. (Kind of like how after the gigantic blunder – in terms of public opinion – that was the 9/11 attack, the Iraq War gave Bin Laden another chance to start recruiting).

  77. 77
    Chris says:

    @El Cid:

    From what I recall of that era, it’s true that there was a large shift in what was going on in Iraq, but “THE SURGE” was actually arguably the least important part of that. The big shift came from the rise of the Sahwa (“Awakening”) movement, wherein a ton of Sunni insurgents decided that the AQI was too crazy an ally to associate with, and switched over to our side (with a little financial and political incentive, of course).

    In other words, “THE SURGE” “worked” because our enemies’ stupidity handed us another chance. (Kind of like how after the gigantic blunder – in terms of public opinion – that was the 9/11 attack, the Iraq War gave Bin Laden another chance to start recruiting).

  78. 78
    kabiddle says:

    Yeah, it takes a girl.

    Really, this guy has been in the center of so much bad. And it takes a freaking girl. Oy.

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    @kabiddle:

    That’s exactly what I said when Herman Cain lost his place as Candidate-Of-The-Month.

  80. 80
    johnny aquitard says:

    Hastings:

    “Perception” is key, he [Petraeus] wrote in his 1987 Princeton dissertation: “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.”
    __
    Yes, it’s not what actually happens that matters — it’s what you can convince the public it thinks happened.

    This reminded me of that famous Suskind interview with Rove (I believe) where Rove asserts ‘We create our own reality’.

    It’s a belief that “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but all that matters is to fool enough of the people enough of the time.”

    This, incidentally, also describes their 50+1 strategy.

  81. 81
    JWL says:

    Patreaus may have been the salesman, but he was working for the GOP.

  82. 82
    Yutsano says:

    @kabiddle:

    Really, this guy has been in the center of so much bad. And it takes a freaking girl. Oy.

    Ahem. Helen of Troy. A woman being the downfall of an erstwhile great general is an ancient tale.

  83. 83
    Will Reks says:

    @Ben Franklin: You think McChrystal and Tillman was bigger than the SurgeMaster?

    I feel that there’s no comparison in terms of actual significance to national policy other than making Bush and the Bush-era military establishment look bad.

  84. 84
    Paul in KY says:

    That’s General ‘Bud Ice Lime’ McChrystal to you, son.

  85. 85
    Paul in KY says:

    @The Tragically Flip: I wouldn’t say they all are, but you need to be a self-promoter to advance to O-7 & beyond (IMO).

  86. 86
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ruckus: Just doing a good, or even better. an outstanding job can work up through O-5 or thereabouts. To rise to General ranks, you need some serious PR and friends already at General (or higher) rank.

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