General Petreaus, too, is willing to kill the republic with endless, unnecessary war

American should surely keep praising U.S. Marines and soldiers for defending the Republic, even if they are risking their lives in unnecessary wars their presidents never intend to win. It is, however, long past time to begin damning — and perhaps god-damning — almost every general officer who wears a uniform or pontificates as a retired military expert in the media. All media outlets have these retirees and they are all treated with effusive praise as if they were honest, able, and winning generals, like America’s great 18th- and 19th-century generals Washington, Greene, Jackson, Scott, Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Lee, Longstreet, and Johnston. All of these men obeyed civilian leaders who ordered them to win wars, and they fought to win and did whatever it took to do so. Most, too, had the honor and humanity to be either fair-minded and non-vindictive winners or gentlemanly and reconciliation-seeking losers.

In the 20th century, too — until 1945 — U.S. generals and admirals were ordered to secure victory over America’s enemy and did so no matter what price in blood and material destruction had to be inflicted on the enemy. For performing their duty, men like MacArthur, Eisenhower, Nimitz, Patton, Bradley, Marshall, and a small number of less well known but peerless Marine generals fully deserve the praise that has been given them by Americans.

The foregoing men merited — and still merit — genuine praise and respect from the citizenry for winning wars or doing their best to win. Americans, until 1945, actually knew there was a vast and plainly crucial difference between winning and losing, and they abhorred losing and losers.

Today, however, most U.S. general officers are complete strangers to victory, and so deserve exactly the kind of proforma, vomit-inducing adulation that is mindlessly mouthed by citizens, the media, and politicians in both parties. Why praise generals — like General Petraeus, for example — who silently do the bidding of cowardly presidents who do not intend to win the wars they start? These are generals who lead young men and women to their deaths or maiming knowing their lives are to be wasted in unconstitutional wars, started, therefore, by tyrants, and which are irrelevant to genuine U.S. national interests. The politicians know that the generals value their perks — while in service and afterward — more than anything else, and can be counted on to further betray their troops by saying lofty and patriotic words, and perhaps shed a tear, over the coffins of the dead. Their performance is meant to assure the media and grieving families that the lives of the dead were well spent and, by doing so, delay a bit longer the arrival of that happy day when the U.S. political elite will be made to pay a hopefully merciless and lethal piper for their unnecessary and illegal interventionist wars.

As for General Petraeus, he is now, after a period of exile, petitioning to rejoin the “death to the republic” crowd of elite, U.S.-citizen war lovers. His petition is found in a piece he wrote for the Washington Post of 15 April 2016, apparently to loudly broadcast that he can be relied on to endorse war-causing interventionism as the first and only U.S. foreign-policy option. In his essay, Petraeus urges all Americans to think about the U.S. war with Islam as one that the republic and its citizens are morally and patriotically obliged to fund and fight forever. The General regards himself as a man of “big ideas,” and in the essay lays out the following five for Americans to live by until they and their republic expire from an endless interventionist war against an Islamist enemy that is motivated to attack Americans by the U.S. government’s long record of relentless and war-causing intervention in the Muslim world.

Big Idea, No. 1: “Ungoverned spaces … stretching from West Africa through the Middle East and into Central Asia” are exploited by Islamists for sanctuary, establishing territorial control, and launching attacks.

Comment: No shit, Sherlock. And pray tell us, maestro, shall we invade, occupy, nation-build, annex, or offer statehood in all of those places?

Big Idea, No. 2: Islamist fighters will attack in regions far from where they live and/or are based.

Comment: See comment for Big Idea No. 1.

Big Idea, No. 3: If the United States does not lead the war on the mujahideen no one else will.

Comment: So what. Our republic is located in North America. It has at least three thousand miles of oceanic buffer on its east and west coasts. The Islamists have no navy and no air power. If the law was obeyed and our borders controlled, the only domestic threat the Islamists could pose to America would be all but eliminated. In addition, there are 27 supine, child-like, and American taxpayer-pampered European nations who are NATO members. If they do not want to pony up the men, money, and blood needed to defend themselves and the shreds and tatters of a civilization they have nearly destroyed, it is their decision. Let them grow up and make a decision. They can fight and defeat their enemies, or they can keep their money and multiculturalism and get sized-up for thobes, burqas, and sandals. The decision is up to them, and if they fight, so is the fight. Americans need do nothing but observe.

Big Idea, No. 4: (a) “Precision [air] strikes and special operations raids” will not win the war with Islam. (b) Others nations — that is, apparently, Sunni Arab States and NATO members — must provide the necessary conventional ground forces, but they will need “considerable help from the U.S.-led coalition” — which means, of course, the money and soldier-children of U.S. taxpayers.

Comment: For (a) see the comments above for Big Ideas, No. 1 and No. 2. For the absolutely certain results of (b) readers need only recall the enormous successes of the two U.S.-led and similarly constituted interventionist coalitions that General Petraeus commanded all the way to disaster, defeat, and deeper debt in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Big Idea, No. 5: Americans will have to support the war for “sustained periods”; the war will be an “ultramarathon,” and; the war will require the participation of the U.S. military and “other (U.S.G.) departments and agencies.” (NB: Presumably to assist U.S. interventionist, regime-changing, and nation-building operations.)

Comment: This could be stated more clearly. General Petraeus might have said: “We in the governing and interventionist elite are smarter than all other Americans. And though our 20-year war on Islam so far has been an utter failure, we will govern in a manner that forces the citizenry to adhere to our failed 20-year-old strategy and, as well, forces it to spend and bleed profusely for however long it takes for the mujahideen to win. Remember, war, wonderful, endless, always losing war, is the only option, so obey your betters, pay your taxes, and shut up.”

The General’s summation for Big Ideas 1-5: “The Long War is going to be an ultra-marathon, and it is time we recognized that. But we and our partners have the ability to respond in a thoughtful, prudent manner, informed by the big ideas that I have described. Nothing less will prove adequate.”

Comment: Did you get this stale, Republic-killing statement from the works of (a) George W. Bush; (b) Hillary Clinton; (c) Barack Obama; (d) Senators Graham and McCain; (e) Dick Cheney; or (f) one of the tens of thousands of other Neocons and Israel Firsters for whom it is a war-loving, Israel-protecting mantra? Personally, I tend to think it came from P.T. Barnum, as it does nothing more than describe each of the General’s fellow U.S. citizens as one of the suckers who Barnum said is born every minute.

Overall, General, your essay is not much to write home about; it might not even pass muster as a high-school thesis. Indeed, it is staggering to recognize that, with all your experience in this escalating religious war, you actually have said nothing in the essay that has not been chanted by interventionists and Neocons since bin Laden declared war in 1996. Apparently, you have not noticed that the big ideas you offer are old and discredited ones. All have been tried, none have worked. As a result, the U.S. military is exhausted and Obama-shrunk, and the enemy is more potent, skilled, and dispersed than ever.

Nor have you realized that while your ideas were being applied by the last three presidents, they have — because they keep America intervening in the Muslim world to protect Israel and Arab tyrannies — helped the Islamist forces grow from a few hundreds to many tens of thousands, and the latter are now governing territory and populations and not hiding in caves. Nonetheless, it just may be that your essay displays enough forelock-tugging obsequiousness to the interventionist elite to rehabilitate you and increase your earning potential among that sorry, amoral, arrogant, and republic-killing bunch. If they welcome you back, it would be quite an achievement, and it will only have cost you whatever remains of your reputation for honesty and integrity.

But if your petition does not pan out, General, consider going to the nearest grammar school, finding a blackboard, and writing what ought to be America’s 2nd Golden Rule four or five hundred times — “Only neutrality and non-intervention, and a strong military to facilitate them, can preserve the republic and its citizens’ liberties.” That statement is not original, but it would at long last put you in the company of an elite with which it is worth associating. You may have heard of it, General. That elite is usually termed the Founding Fathers.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.