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November 21, 2012

General Chaos

Kevin E. Dayhoff

On Monday, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a statement in which he said that the “recent allegations” swirling-around high-ranking military officers are “not a distraction.”


In a Department of Defense release, General Dempsey said:


“For good reason some of you have asked if we’re distracted by recent allegations against several senior military officers. We are not distracted, but we are concerned…We’re not distracted — we can’t afford to be. We have hundreds of thousands of soldiers … deployed around the world standing watch for the nation. Their well-being, and the well-being of their families, remains our top priority. The nation deserves our best effort and our attention to the security challenges we face...”


It was just days after the election when it was publically revealed that CIA Director David Petraeus was resigning his post because he had conducted an extra-marital affair with Lt. Col. Paula Broadwell, his biographer, from late 2011 until last summer.


This is nuts – on many levels. Of course, I share the concern of many over national security. However, in this situation, although the affair is technically “sexual harassment,” all indications are that both consenting adults have rather high security clearances.


However, add me to the other voices who wonder why he resigned, especially in the context explained by Examiner columnist Cal Thomas, who wrote Nov. 14:


“Bill Clinton didn't have to resign after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He lied … under oath, for which he was later impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate. His liaisons in public office were legion, stretching back at least to his time as governor of Arkansas… Is there a different standard, and if so, based on what?


“The late Sen. Edward Kennedy's sexual liberalism was well-known, and he wasn't forced to resign. In fact, he repeatedly won re-election, despite his predilections…”


I scratch my head in amazement when I look at this from the perspective that General Petraeus is my age and Colonel Broadwell was born after I had graduated from high school. What in the hellfire was General Petraeus thinking? Don’t answer that!


Another context involves our collective belief that at a time when many have little faith in any of our leaders, we were under the impression that General Petraeus stood for something other than cheap partisan politics and sleazy personal behavior… At least that is the impression that several individuals that I know well, who have personally served with General Petraeus, have impressed upon me.


In addition, remember his “Letter about Values.” I was surprised that it was still up on the web. Although the values of which General Petraeus projects in his message to his troops involve warfare and not pillow talk, it does give us a certain insight into the soul of the man, n’est pas.


On May 10, 2007, General Petraeus wrote, in part:


“Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us…”


The Petraeus scandal comes at a time when, “Mr. Obama, 51, faces governing in a deeply divided country and a partisan-rich capital, where Republicans retained their majority in the House and Democrats kept their control of the Senate. His re-election offers him a second chance that will quickly be tested, given the rapidly escalating fiscal showdown,” reported The New York Times the day after the election.


Furthermore, barely half of the country has any faith that the recently re-elected President Barack Obama will talk straight to us about the exigent threat to our nation at the hands of radical-extremist Muslims. They’re simply misunderstood and maybe it will help if we just apologize, over and over again.


Hence you have many misgivings about how the president handled the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans, including our ambassador, were killed.


This also comes at a time when the American death toll in Afghanistan reached 2,000 at the end of September and there is a growing chorus of thought that “Afghanistan (is) not worth (the) life of one more soldier.”


Then, just when we were running out of shoes to drop, there is a commotion way-off stage and a series of military officers arrive in place behaving very badly.


Actually, for the many who have come to know General Petraeus, read my columns on “Iraq: Into the Heart of Darkness,” on September 19, 2007 and “The Crocodile Dundee Factor,” from August 29, 2007; his fall from grace rattles the head.


But why did he resign? No, really! One interesting explanation came from Katie Roiphe on November 13 in Slate:


“Petraeus’ resignation is not about actual concerns about his integrity as a leader, or any true concern about blackmail. The resignation is over something much murkier, and ambiguous, something that engages on the deepest level our most fantastical ideals of generals and leaders, of men in positions of power …”


Yeah, it’s murky all right. I’m not much into conspiracy theories, however, the timing is suspect and…, well, the Petraeus scandal baffles me.


All that said, if you wish to investigate a real scandal, why is it that “With the conflict in Afghanistan winding down and the military trimming its force, the majority of service members transitioning out of the military who need pain and psychiatric medication are not getting the seamless care they need… (A)ccording to a Government Accountability Office report released earlier this month.”


In consideration of all the staggering challenges that face our nation, why is the media so pre-occupied with telling me with whom General Petraeus is sleeping” I really – really – do not care.


. . . . .I’m just saying. . . . .


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