The passing of Petraeus

November 13, 2012

12 November 2012

(Photo courtesy of CIA)

General (ret.) David Petraeus is a peerless asset to the United States. His contributions to the war and to the nation have been incalculable. No one can estimate the number of lives among Americans, the Coalition and Iraqi civilians that his wise leadership saved during that horrible war. His short leadership in Afghanistan rekindled my confidence that that war also might be brought to heel. Unfortunately, he was sent back to lead the CIA, which was a great loss for the military.
Director Petraeus’s accomplishments can never be erased. He will undoubtedly be demonized for his affair. It is not easy to ameliorate the stain that it leaves, as the potential final word summing up an impeccable career.

All Alphas have enemies. Petraeus is no exception. The finest leaders usually have more enemies than the company men whose mantra is, “Don’t bail the sinking boat. The boss said the boat is not sinking.” Unfortunately we have a surfeit of company men and only one Dave Petraeus.

Petraeus’s paramour is Paula Broadwell. I know Paula, but not as well as I know Dave Petraeus. I spent much time talking with Paula in Afghanistan. Her beauty and her confidence are apparent in seconds. It takes another five minutes to realize that she is very bright, and five minutes more to realize that Paula, too, is an Alpha. She believes that women should be Rangers, and infantry officers, and are capable of standing beside men in combat. Ironically, her role in this spectacle serves as a counter to her own argument.

David Petraeus spent years downrange in the wars. Some of his own staff members bailed from the stress, yet General Petraeus kept going. In the middle of all this, he battled cancer and survived. During a 2010 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, he passed out at the table. Yet he kept going and he never publicly complained. And then Paula came along. You might as well starve the man and then cook barbeque outside his cave.

During 2007, at the peak of the Iraq war, an infantry lieutenant colonel told me about the time that Colonel Petraeus was shot during training. A Soldier accidentally put a bullet straight through Petraeus’s chest. Blood and lungs were coming from his mouth. Petraeus nearly died.

Normally a mistake like this might end the career of the Soldier who fired the shot, and it might adversely affect the career of his commanding officer. Instead, Colonel Petraeus survived and he sent the young Soldier to Ranger school. It was the young commander, now older, who told me the story in Iraq. His man fired the shot that almost killed Petraeus. If Petraeus had kicked the young officer out of the Army, it would have been our loss. Instead, Petraeus took a bullet to the chest and he turned it into a teachable moment. That is David Petraeus.

Today journalists and others whinge that they were duped into the cult of Petraeus. Untrue. He really is that man, but he is also just a man.

Petraeus has a long reputation as a mentor. Any insinuation that he used mentorship to prey on Paula Broadwell falls flat. You can hardly talk to the man without him leaving you with a reading assignment. “Michael, make sure to read Foreign Affairs.” With this one remarkable exception, the man leads by example.

Paula’s intentions are the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. It is unwise to hypothesize without facts, and Paula deserves the benefit of proper investigation. She is somebody’s daughter, a wife and a mother, and an American citizen.

David Petraeus has enemies. Many wish to see him fall. For example, years ago, a CIA officer confided an abiding hatred for General Petraeus to me. After the CIA officer explained the circumstances, I respected Petraeus more. The officer had a sack of hurt feelings after a combat disaster in Iraq, to which Petraeus, instead of offering a shoulder to cry on, said buck up, there is work to do.

In Afghanistan, I would see Paula at the morning briefings where Petraeus presided. She is connected within powerful circles, including within the special operations community. Access begets access, and once you reach a certain level, you no longer care about doors slamming in your face: every time a door slams, the concussion opens five more. Access is a two-way street. Washington has a million doors down thousands of hallways, and nobody, no matter how powerful, controls more than a single hallway. After you reach a certain level of access, nobody can shut you out. Paula reached that level, and Paula enjoyed playing with high-tension wires where a single misstep can pop a career like a bug zapper, slamming thousands of doors at once. Where this leaves Paula remains to be seen.

Conspiracy theories are crackling the airwaves. The timing of the DCI’s resignation obviously raises questions, but the atomic structure of the event at least is clear. Dave and Paula had an affair. Dave preferred to resign rather than be fired. What was okay for President Clinton is not okay for other government servants, and we all need to keep a handle on that.

No man is without fault. This fiasco does not diminish David Petraeus’s contributions to the United States, nor his positive impact on the many people that he inspired and mentored. Dave stumbled. He is fallible. Nonetheless, he remains a remarkable man with rare insights and much earned wisdom. After a decade of persistent sacrifice, he deserves a rest. When General (ret.) Petraeus is ready to resume, no doubt there will be a long line of people requesting his able services.

High Priest of (degenerate) Liberalism

March 30, 2010

So long and thanks for all the fish…

September 14, 2009

Which is how a recent LGF article finishes on severing links with Powerline.
It seems to me that a large section of the right has taken leave of its senses. What the fuck is going on with protesters comparing Obama to Hitler? He’s not even close to being an autocrat – these are dangerous stupidities that are going to keep the Republicans out of power for the next twenty years…

Obama – Fail

March 26, 2009

Charles Johnson is right, the GOP have lost because they cannot project a positive image.
Read his opinion here.

Guilty Pleasures

March 21, 2009

Though I shouldn’t enjoy watching the unfolding debacle that is the Obama administration, this is fun

And there is such a thing as law. The way to break a contract legally is Chapter 11. Short of that, a contract is a contract. The AIG bonuses were agreed to before the government takeover and are perfectly legal. Is the rule now that when public anger is kindled, Congress will summarily cancel contracts?

Even worse are the clever schemes being cooked up in Congress to retrieve the money by means of some retroactive confiscatory tax. The common law is pretty clear about the impermissibility of ex post facto legislation and bills of attainder. They also happen to be specifically prohibited by the Constitution. We’re going to overturn that for $165 million?

Was I right?

February 20, 2009

Apologies for my absence (well, to my two or three readers), work has been a bugger and have been too tired to blog. Let’s hope this picks things up.

Charles Krauthammer (and others) warned of this and have been reporting on the Obama administrations slide into lunacy. Jimmy Carter Mark II is well and truely back.

Uh Oh…

January 9, 2009

Reports of advisors to the new Obama Administration are not good. No, I don’t think that Obama will prove himself an enemy of Israel but I do wonder if his thinking isn’t the same mismash of blithe arrogance, naiveity and liberal cognative egocentrism that we typically see in US and British academia.

Here’s the passage, “Unless he is prepared to adopt a policy that is tougher, fairer and smarter than both of his predecessors you might as well hang a closed-for-the-season sign on any chance of America playing an effective role in defusing the current crisis or the broader crisis,”

“tougher”? He can’t mean Hamas -so does he mean Israel? He could just mean that the new administration’s assault will “fight” harder to achieve a peace settlement, otherwise known as blind arrogance and self-deception. Or he could mean leaning on Israel to sacrifice its own interests in favour of terrorist groups in the desperately foolish attempt to persuade them to give up arms…

“fairer”? What on earth does this mean? We supply Israel with weapons and money and political support, we’ll do likewise for the terrorists Palestinians? Surely no one would be so stupid as to arm Israel’s sworn enemies – no wait – the Bush administration, in one its bouts of “realism”, did just that with the Palestinian Authority – and those weapons ended up being used by Hamas… Ok, let’s try and think pro-Israel? Well, he could denounce the anti-semitism in world and especially leftwing discourse – but that’s not going to happen. I think that “fairer” means recourse to the “land swap for peace” notions – that is the most likely angle. This will be pressure to shut down settlement in Judea & Samaria and remove the security infrastructure that has kept terrorism at bay for a few years now. Nothing terrible unconventional in that – for leftist thinking…

“smarter” Ah, now I don’t think that this actually applies to anything in particular in terms of policies. No, it generally expresses the supreme self-confidence that derives from a very selective and arrogant view of the world. Terrorists must be poor because people express their discontents with economics in the Arab world through violence… Nevermind that this has repeatedly been shown to be nonsense, nothing more than a socialist/marxian fantasy about third world freedom fighters. The terrorists (the committed ones) broadly tend to be middle class, well educated and highly politically (or religiously, it amounts to the same thing) committed. The terrorists of Bolshevism were middle-class pseudo-intellectuals. The terrorists of the Nazi party were failed intellectuals, while the communist aligned terrorist groups that attempted to terrorize Western Europe until the 1980s were middle class pseudo-intellectuals.
So if not poverty, what? Foreign policy? No, that doesn’t work with Islamist terrorists. Give them retreat and mildness, they attack out of contempt. Stamp on them and after a fight (often vicious) and they retreat and slowly become discredited.

“smarter” catches it for me. This is not about anything other than the tunnel vision afflicting the liberal-left, their blithe arrogance is often a front for a mocking insecurity – look at how they have resorted to intellectual terrorism and legal censorship to silence debates, whether this be in universities (speech codes and legally privilaging the “victim of hegemony”) or using anti-terrorism laws to spy on people’s bins… In power, the liberal-left oscilate between blind mania and spiteful lows. This means for Israel the possibility of a US administration treating the word of Hamas and Fatah as honourable and intended as such, when they both will be lying through their teeth while treating with contemptous disdain Israeli fears.
Someone else said it before me, we’re in for a rough four years. Jimmy Carter Mark II, if these leaks are anything to go by.

John Bolton, man of vision

November 6, 2008

Yes, I mean it. Read this.

Advice to the President-elect.

Return to Blogging: Losing the Election but not losing our souls.

November 5, 2008

Hello, I’m back. Couldn’t really write anything the last few weeks – everything I felt was being written by my side already. The Obama voters have just done an incredibly stupid thing… To those on the left who are now crowing – Gene at Harry’s Place in particular – “fuck you”. You were blinded by your partisan hatreds into befriending your enemies – you WILL regret this.

To those who bravely voted for McCain, bad luck. And Damn, Blast, Fuck, Bloody Fucking, Fucking, Fucking Hell. Well the world’s not going to come to an end – there are real limits to a President’s power… just I have this nagging worry about Obama. Let’s hope the judiciary stand up to the barmmier ideas…wait…he can sack the lot…in fact he will – Bush did.
Does anyone know if the senior Dems are still talking about slashing the military budget?

Anyway, here’s the comment that I left on Shire Network News today. It sums up a lot for me.

Ok. We lost. And McCain did lose graciously – he always was gracious (unlike the opponent).

The world is not going to end suddenly…however, the USA will realise at some point in the future that it elected (and the media in particular) a disgraceful man to be president in the face of danger. The USA has just buried its head in the sand, and to Israelis I would say – hit Iran in the next two to three months – that’s how long you have to increase your chances of survival.

The unconstitutional and illegal tactics of the Democrats will become institutionalised as the Consitution will be subverted. To what ends? To whichever ends the left of the Democrat party decide.

On the plus side. These next four years will give real leftwingers like myself and the conservative movement in the USA to put in some real coordinating thought on how to regroup and win the next election, so we can undo the damage that will have been wrought by the “messiah”.
It seems to me that one of the reasons that the Republicans never developed a coherent domestic message was that they never had one. Low taxes were a good idea, are a good idea but not as much as reforming the tax code to promote the benefits of work. The US tax code has been a mess for the last twenty years and Obama’s Democrats are not going to tackle it – too much like hard work.
The Republicans should be starting to work out a manifesto that provides a realistic and plausible small government platform to counter the Big Government excesses of an Obama presidency.
At the same time, healthcare is going to be an issue. I wrote a post on my blog months ago about this and the failings of the conservatives to really tackle why healthcare is a Democrat issue. To revisit the argument, healthcare in the US is semi-nationalised and semi-privatised; in Britain, we have mostly nationalised healthcare and it remains one of the institutions of which the British remain most proud, even when outraged by stupid decisions such as trying to punish people for using private healthcare alongside the NHS. Those are excesses but excesses which have no root in the spirit of the NHS, that the nation cares for all its subjects.

If the Republicans are bold, they can come up with a small government version of the NHS for the USA. I would propose something like this: the federal government provides a basic healthcare voucher which consumers can use to shop around for the best healthcare deal. In return for the abolition of corporation tax on healthcare providers, the government and the healthcare providers agree on a basic regulatory framework of consumer rights, a set of standardised insurance plans into which consumers must buy and an agreed limiting of drug prices based on a compromise between market and R&D costs and affordability for consumers. This would act in the same manner, I believe, as the regulatory framework the British government uses for energy, telephony etc in Britain where the companies then compete on price and service within a framework that guarentees a competative market.
The USA, not matter what the liberal left shriek, is not as poor as Britain was in 1945. For the Republican party, I think this would create a great deal of affection towards them from the working class Democrat voters and combined with a real reforming assault on Medicare, Medicaid, the pensions system, public education and the tax system, would give them a mantle of “real” reformers – the party of “competence”, rather than the Democrats who would be the party of “conscience” but “incompetence”. If you want your country to be run well – vote Republican. If you want your country to cater to special interest and minority groups in the name of “fairness”, vote Democrat but don’t be shocked at the waste and corruption.

Returning to the present. So Obama thinks that Bush administration policy was too aggressive towards Russia? Inconsistent would be a fair analysis but too aggressive? This means he’s still talking and in his victory speech about appeasement.
What was that saying about leopards?

Looking for over-reaction

October 11, 2008

The title does not apply to the article to which I am about to link but refers to a certain soul-searching for myself. Charles Krauthammer has hit the nail on the head (once more) about Obama. Obama might not be in the far left – I’m not certain that he’s not, but it seems simpler and more likely that he is a man of political cynicism and ruthlessness and that he sees nothing wrong with the far-leftist points of view.
“Obama is a man of first-class intellect and first-class temperament. But his character remains highly suspect.”
I would agree with that statement. He’s fundamentally unfit to be president.