A General’s humbling by kamran shafi

In October 2001, the United States and allies attacked Afghanistan; in March 2003, they attacked Iraq. The war in Iraq lasted 10 years and the war in Afghanistan is still raging. In the Iraq War (2003 to 2011), a total of 4,487 servicemen and women, including officers, were killed, and 31,965 were wounded, some most grievously.
In the Afghan War (2001 to the present time), 2,031 servicemen and women, including officers, lost their lives, and 9,971 were wounded, some most grievously.
General David H Petraeus has served in both wars: as Commander Multi-National Force (MNF) in Iraq for 19 months, and as Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for 12 months. He has also served as the Commander CENTCOM and as Director of the CIA from which post he resigned on November 9, 2012, citing an extramarital affair as the reason. In other words, he is an important general with a sterling career behind him.
Now, here, in abbreviated form with my own words in places, is part of a timeline put together by CNN’s Dana Ford, Phil Gast, Michael Pearson, Carol Cratty, wires and staff, on this affair. It would be interesting for Pakistanis to note that the domestic agency, the FBI, was the investigating agency that is responsible, not only for investigating the CIA chief (a former mighty General, note again) but for the final denouement too: “The affair came to light during an FBI investigation of a complaint that author Paula Broadwell, 40, was allegedly sending harassing e-mails to another woman close to Petraeus,” a US official said.
In 2006, Broadwell met General Petraeus when he spoke at Harvard, where she was a graduate student, according to the preface of the book she co-authored, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. “She told the general about her research interests and he agreed to put her in touch with people studying the same issues.” In 2008, Broadwell began her PhD dissertation on Petraeus and his “innovative leadership skills”.
In June 2010, Petraeus replaced General Stanley McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan and Broadwell decided to turn her research into a book and follow Petraeus to that country. “‘We had a relationship before I went there as far as this dissertation was concerned, so it just took it to another level,” Broadwell told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin in February’.”
The affair started when Petraeus took over as Director of the CIA in October/November 2011. In May 2012, when unwanted and threatening e-mails were sent to a Petraeus family friend, Jill Kelley, she went to the FBI who traced the mails to Broadwell. These mails apparently had to do with Broadwell telling Kelley to mind her own business, so to say. The FBI gained access to Broadwell’s computer and examined it thoroughly and interviewed her several times.
Petraeus and Broadwell ended their affair in the summer of 2012, but because the FBI sleuths also came across e-mails from Petraeus to Broadwell, the Director of the CIA was interviewed by FBI agents too. In the meanwhile, “in October 2012, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was made aware of an extramarital affair involving Petraeus. Doug Heye, a spokesman for the congressman said Cantor, a Republican, was tipped to the information by an FBI employee. The Congressman had a conversation with the official, described as a whistle-blower, about the affair and potential national security concerns involved in the matter, he said.”
On November 6, 2012 , America re-elected President Barack Obama. The same day, Petraeus told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the affair who advised Petraeus to resign. On November 9, Petraeus, after getting the president’s go-ahead, stepped down.
The saga is by no means over: General John Allen, the present Commander ISAF, who took over from Petraeus (!), “is under investigation for “potentially inappropriate” e-mails with Jill Kelley, the woman who was allegedly harassed by Paula Broadwell, and who went to the FBI in the first instance. Curiouser and curiouser, when you consider that the Petraeuses and the Allens and the Kelleys and Jill Kelley’s sister, Natalie Khawam are old friends from when they were all together in Tampa, Florida.”
Be which as it may, and despite the fact that this scandal has been headline news on every channel/newspaper all over the world with all sorts of stories of the Kelley/Khawam sisters bankruptcy; the latter being described by a court thus: “appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers, and others with whom she comes in contact,” etcetera, the CIA/US Army has not put the blame for any of this on to the Russians or the Chinese, even the Taliban! Neither have they called it a conspiracy by a traitorous press!
A general or two made the wrong call and faced the consequences like he should have done/will do, for I do think we are going to see more of the Allen affair. There is no hiding behind the sacredness of the uniform; behind the killed and the wounded of the US military; behind false and fake narratives of ‘Ghairat’ and other such nonsense.
Indeed, Piers Morgan asked the famous film director, the sterling Oliver Stone, just the other night on CNN if criticising/exposing a general during a time of war borders on treason. The answer was classic Oliver Stone and fits our situation down to the ground. No, said Stone, for the same was said about Rome’s Praetorian Guard until it was so bloated with Imperial largesse that it became more powerful than Caesar and began to make and break kings and the Senate and generally interfered in politics.
Incidentally, one week after Petraeus resigned and a day after the investigation into Allen’s matter began, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta stripped General William ‘Kip’ Ward, former Commander US Africa Command of a star “for lavish travel and other unauthorised expenses”… “which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general despite arguments from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the demotion. Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000.” (Words in quotes courtesy the Washington Post).
Are you listening, our political leaders? For the time is NOW for you to gird your loins, please, and ensure civilian supremacy. No one will eat you up, as we natives say!


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