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Nov 11 2012

Tin soldier

The recent Petraeus scandal has me divided: I think it’s absurd that we and the press are so sensitive to sex scandals, scandals that are really only the concern of the people and families involved in them, and except where they are hurting other people or perpetuating inequities, I really don’t give a damn where some politician or celebrity is putting their penis. So I’m a bit appalled at the sleazy gawking at some guy’s train wreck of a personal life.

But on the other hand, the press given to Petraeus has been embarrassingly fawning — they’ve treated him like Apollo brought crashing to earth, and as if they just want to put the hero back on his pedestal. There is far too much soldier-worship in this country: I can respect the work and sacrifice of soldiers defending our country, but it does not make them greater than the teachers who educate our children or the firefighters who protect our homes or any other occupation that requires hard work and dedication to accomplish well. And as we know from recent experience, military training does not necessarily make one wiser and a better advisor on how to apply military force.

So I was very happy to see Glenn Greenwald summarize the real story here so well.

it is truly remarkable what ends people’s careers in Washington – and what does not end them. As Hastings detailed in that interview, Petraeus has left a string of failures and even scandals behind him: a disastrous Iraqi training program, a worsening of the war in Afghanistan since he ran it, the attempt to convert the CIA into principally a para-military force, the series of misleading statements about the Benghazi attack and the revealed large CIA presence in Libya. To that one could add the constant killing of innocent people in the Muslim world without a whiff of due process, transparency or oversight.

Oh, for a media that actually questioned the powerful and how they exercise that power.

71 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    He’s got a good future as a Fox news commentator on the endless wars.

  2. 2
    Randomfactor

    It’ll be interesting to see whether Petreaus is prosecuted for the security lapses which gave his lover classified information, a crime for which I believe a young man continues in solitary confinement for without yet standing trial.

    Nahhh…never happen. Scooter Libby scooted too, though his wrist definitely got tapped lightly.

  3. 3
    ChasCPeterson

    We ought to give these guys a choice between a security clearance and their testicles. A national security apparatus of women and eunuchs would be a lot better for our beloved nation.

  4. 4
    jpgoldberg

    Someone in Petraesus’ position should not have let a someone else have access to his personal email account. Sure there would be nothing in there that is secret, but that kind of access can be used (and has been in other circumstances) to gain more restricted access.

    The head of the CIA should simply know better than that. And so leaving out the personal scandal, this means (at least to my mind) that he had to go.

    Cheers,

    -j

  5. 5
    cravenfaith

    The story appears not to be a sex scandal, but a terrible vulnerablity exposed by an FBI investigation. Cleary, Petraeus comprimised himself. Information of the his infidelity could easily be levereged to gain classified information. The story is not sex. The story is how a CIA director could expose himself so carelessly.

  6. 6
    coozoe

    What he did is prohibited in military law. But the fact that he couldn’t detect a psychotic female is the really sad issue. Whether he should be deified or not, that female is nuttier than a payday candy bar.

  7. 7
    Sili

    Could be worse. Imagine if it had been a *gay* sex scandal?!

    Now *that* would have been a security risk.

    /snark

  8. 8
    Sili

    “female”?

    “psychotic”?

    Do we have a live one here?

  9. 9
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    Sili, I do believe you are right. *passes out Bingo cards*

  10. 10
    Ing

    I think the real issue of why an affair like this is unacceptable is because it compromises him (it gives leverage for black mail or exploitation) and it means that there was someone with consistent access to him who presumably was not vetted by security or intelligence. It’s a security risk.

  11. 11
    Ing

    Also have to point out that such people are suppossidly seen as heroes because of sacrifices they make (limiting their rights and freedom of speech, movement, etc) for the greater good (the greater good)

    Yet here we see someone in the HIGHEST position, apparently not able or willing to make minor sacrifices to avoid actions he knew were self serving and compromising. Either such people qualified for the responsibility we give these assholes don’t exist or we such at selecting for it.

  12. 12
    No One

    Benghazi. oil.

  13. 13
    pipenta

    That Petraesus had an affair was not beside the point. From an atheist standpoint, it’s an important matter. He was breaking the law when he imposed his religion on the soldiers under his command. And he was breaking his christian laws with his (gotta use the word) fornication.

    It’s the old, one set of rules for me, another set of rules for you.

  14. 14
    DaveH

    @#7: Actually, sadly, yes.

    Given the culture of homophobia in much of American society, though that thankfully looks like it is changing, a person in Petraeus’ position might be much more eager to cover it up, which includes potentially compromising security to do so. The more “illicit” the situation, the easier it becomes to pressure someone to do something with that knowledge. In other countries, a homosexual affair might be no more compromising than a heterosexual one.

    As has been commented before, the problem from a security standpoint (and since he presumably has access to all CIA files, it is a huge issue) is not that he cheated on his wife. That is between him and her. The security issue is that the other woman, or someone who knew about the affair, could be a foreign agent, and potentially use the affair to gain information. The Soviet/Russians actually have quite a history of doing exactly that.

  15. 15
    pipenta

    I can’t believe how badly my fingers stumbled over the typing of Petraeus. Made it look like a lesser-known Olympian.

    “Come, Petraesus, fetch Heracles an amphora of your best wine!”

    I think I’ll rest my poor digits for a bit before I sprain something.

  16. 16
    gworroll

    He’s the director of the CIA, and started an affair with a woman whose job was literally to find out information about him. And she was completely open about this.

    However the rest of his career and accomplishments are judged, WHAT THE FUCK. This shows a tremendous lack of judgement. Of all the women he could have had an affair with, short of a known foreign agent, he made about the worst choice he could have made. This was a tremendous security risk.

  17. 17
    Ing

    However the rest of his career and accomplishments are judged,

    Sadly if you ask me this was pretty much par the course for the asshole. IMHO he should have never been trusted with the authority to declare happy birthday

  18. 18
  19. 19
    dfarmer1584

    I’m #2 on the wait list at my library for “All In,” a book I almost certainly would not have considered reading before, but now…

    It somehow feels almost like voyerism, but I am looking forward to checking it out.

  20. 20
    Argle Bargle

    pamschneider #6

    What he did is prohibited in military law.

    Doesn’t matter. He retired from the Army before he went to work at the CIA.

  21. 21
    terrencekaye

    Ooooooh, I hate when innocent people are killed without a whiff of due process. Allahu akbar, where’s my beheading knife?

  22. 22
    jimwissick

    I really have to wonder if something else is at play here. Why resign now just days away from congressional hearings?

    Why resign when DC is rife with sexual scandals?

    Something stinks here.

  23. 23
    steve84

    The FBI also came to the conclusion that there was no security breach

  24. 24
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    a crime for which I believe a young man continues in solitary confinement for without yet standing trial.

    Close to correct; it is my understanding the Breanna Manning is a young woman, however.

  25. 25
    Ze Madmax

    terrencekaye @ #21

    Ooooooh, I hate when innocent people are killed without a whiff of due process. Allahu akbar, where’s my beheading knife?

    There is so much stupid packed so tightly into so few words in this comment, I’m amazed it hasn’t either collapsed into a all-sucking stupid-hole, or gained sentience and started writing articles for World News Daily or Fox News.

  26. 26
    terrencekaye

    wow that’s a wonderful ad hominem Max. Do you use a seeing-eye dog or are you able to afford a personal assistant?

  27. 27
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I held a Top Secret security clearance. I no longer hold it (not necessary for my position). Adultery was not only a violation of the UCMJ, it was also grounds for revocation of one’s security clearance. It put the one with the clearance in a position in which he or she could be blackmailed. There were lots of other no-nos, including debt, alcoholism, and homosexuality (I think that has changed (I was in more than 20 years ago)). So Petraeus’ adultery disqualifies him for his really really high security clearance which would make it impossible to do his job. If, of course, the rules for the generals are the same as the rules for the pfcs.

  28. 28
    d.f.manno

    Talking Points Memo quoted one of its readers thusly:

    I’m a federal employment lawyer who has done a good amount of security clearance work. Petreaus simply could not continue as CIA Director. Even if they eventually found that he was not at risk for facing what is called “duress” in security clearance law, his security clearance would be immediately suspended pending investigation. Indeed, I have no doubt that his clearance has already been suspended and an investigation will happen to find out if any loss of information occurred. There is no way that he could continue.

    A CIA director without a security clearance may as well be a potted plant. He’d be completely unable to function.

  29. 29
    Inaji

    terrencekaye:

    wow that’s a wonderful ad hominem Max.

    That is not an ad hominem. Mistaking an insult for an ad hom has become an instant identifier of an A*.

  30. 30
    chigau (違う)

    that’s a wonderful ad hominem

    No. It’s not.

  31. 31
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    d.f.manno’s quote said what I was trying to say much more betterer than me did. Thanks.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    steve84

    I read an article where a CIA officer that people there have affairs all the time. It comes with the job, the stress and spending so much time away from family. The key is that they come clean about it and then nothing happens most of the time. That kind of hush-hush attitude is common in the military too. But it’s a bit different for the top people.

  34. 34
    kreativekaos

    There is far too much soldier-worship in this country: I can respect the work and sacrifice of soldiers defending our country, but it does not make them greater than the teachers who educate our children or the firefighters who protect our homes or any other occupation that requires hard work and dedication to accomplish well.
    —PZ MYERS

    Personally, I would tend to agree, and in my experience, I would tend to extend that view to police officers as well(as exemplified in the occasionally seen bumper-stickers advocating the execution of cop-killers.)

    While understanding and respecting the risks taken and the value to society of cops and soldiers, there is a flavor to some of this thinking that tends to take less-seriously the value of the lives of those in so many other occupations— similar to the ‘soldier worship’ mentioned in the main post–as though the lives of people in other occupations are essentially less worthy.

  35. 35
    Larry

    Petraeus allowed his gonads to put himself into a position where he could easily be compromised by blackmail. In his position as Director of the CIA, he holds every level of clearance that the US government has protecting an unimaginable number of vital US secrets and on-going activities and protecting the lives of countless military personnel, agents, and foreign contacts. By placing himself in this position, he has violated any number of security oaths one is required to take in order to be granted these clearances. As a civilian who holds similar clearances, at a minimum, I could be stripped of these clearances leading to the possible loss of my job or even prosecution, at worst, if I compromised myself in the same way.

    Unbelievably stupid for somebody in his position.

  36. 36
    rapiddominance

    There is far too much soldier-worship in this country: I can respect the work and sacrifice of soldiers defending our country, but it does not make them greater than the teachers who educate our children or the firefighters who protect our homes or any other occupation that requires hard work and dedication to accomplish well.

    Many theists would cringe over my agreeing with you, but you’re right.

    For starters, its not like there is any ONE motive for choosing a career in the military. By the very nature of the job description its a near certainty that unsavory elements will be drawn into this field. Furthermore, these soldiers will have on hand the tools and the opportunity to visit massive destruction on human lives. Where as it might be tempting to judge their actions as they pertain to the successful completion of military objectives, much of the damage rendered in the arena of warfare has more to do with the personalities fighting and less to do with the missions, themselves (think Task Force Barker in Mylai, 1968).

    Thank you for another thoughtful and relevant post.

  37. 37
    Marcus Ranum

    There were lots of other no-nos, including debt, alcoholism, and homosexuality

    Also, advocating overthrow of the government. When they gave me all the paperwork to fill out, I asked it they were concerned about violent overthrow only, or whether peaceful overthrow was OK. The Secret Service guy took the stack of paper away and said, “never mind.”

  38. 38
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    There’s a reason why I always mute the TV when the subject is foreign policy. Nothing useful, ever, because it’s always framed within the context of neo-colonialism being perfectly okay.

  39. 39
    nohellbelowus

    I think Petraeus is being positioned as a Republican Presidential candidate for 2016. This affair will simply make him seem more “human” to centrists and leftists. And women love a man in uniform!

    Crazy? Maybe. But you heard it first right here.

  40. 40
    schweinhundt

    Teachers are certainly underappreciated and (in some circles) wrongly denigrated to a nauseating degree. However, I don’t see how the general public’s respect for military personnel has morphed/crossed the line into worship.

  41. 41
    Muz

    The whole ‘Support the troops (almost) no matter what’ thing does get a bit much some times.
    On the one hand I understand it as a desire to not repeat post-Vietnam type stuff where you blame the soldiers for the crime of the whole institution or branches thereof they had nothing to do with. That is a bit extreme.
    On the other hand I kinda do want to blame them actually, if not quite as severely.

    Really we work on the legal and moral principle that anyone part of any group that “takes up arms” against us (which ever us that is) can be summarily killed. There’s a lot of laws of war and rules of engagement involved there, but ultimately that’s how it works. That’s how you win. A soldier’s position as an individual is largely abrogated by whatever force they are a part of, even if they make the tea. You want to not be target in a war you need to surrender. The how’s and whys of what you are doing there and how you got there don’t matter. If you’re part of the enemy you’re a target.

    It seems difficult not to apply that logic to our own militaries as well, a lot of the time. If people and even individuals in the military take issue with the actions of its branches they’re right to be critical of anyone who is a part of that to any degree, I think.
    The force itself really wants that solid chain of command, camaraderie and morale preserved through a certain amount of protection from public criticism, and I understand this. But anything that seeks that privilege to act as a force invites criticism of the individuals who are a part of that force and stay with it, I feel. As much as I would want to assess individual behaviour individually in matters of war, people are well within their rights not to support the troops, any troops, if they disagree with what the military are doing.

    Instead of a ‘Support the troops’ bumper sticker I might put up a ‘Begrudgingly accept the utility of an armed force’ sticker.

  42. 42
    Ing

    I think Petraeus is being positioned as a Republican Presidential candidate for 2016. This affair will simply make him seem more “human” to centrists and leftists. And women love a man in uniform!

    Crazy? Maybe. But you heard it first right here.

    Crazy was not the word I was thinking of

  43. 43
    chigau (違う)

    ‘Begrudgingly accept the utility of an armed force’ bumpersticker
    I would buy.

  44. 44
    dpitman

    And what better time to talk about too much respect towards solders than Veterans Day? I don’t know who is saying solders are better than teachers or firemen, I just do not hear/see that being demonstrated. Maybe because it doesn’t make sense to compare them. I think you should also keep in mind while Petraeus may not have been perfect I’ll bet over the years he put himself in harms way for this country far more times than you have PZ. Must be easy to sit on your ass at that computer and judge people or rate their performance doing a job you couldn’t manage if you lived to be 1000.

  45. 45
    Billy Clyde Tuggle

    The one characteristic of the military that makes it unique among the the professions is that you essentially forfeit a portion of your civil rights when you “take the job”. If you are a police officer and you get an assignment in a dangerous neighborhood, you always have the option to hand your gun and your badge over to the watch commander and walk away. Likewise for a teacher or firefighter. If you are in the military and your commander says, “go take hamburger hill, Joe”, you really don’t have much choice.

    Many of the soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan have had there enlistments extended (not by their choice) and are on their 3rd and 4th combat tours. We ask a lot of these folks and for a lot less pay than most teachers, firefighters, or police officers.

  46. 46
    bradleybetts

    @ChasCPeterson

    “We ought to give these guys a choice between a security clearance and their testicles. A national security apparatus of women and eunuchs would be a lot better for our beloved nation.”

    I take issue with the assumption that anyone possessing a pair of testicles is going to be an incompetent, warmongering moron. The issue here is his stupidity, not his gender.

  47. 47
    brianwood

    Had Petraeus been a general in WWII, he’da been sacked LONG ago. Two major fuck-ups, Iraq and Afghanistan, and no general fired? WTF?

  48. 48
    Nick Gotts

    I’ll bet over the years he put himself in harms way for this country far more times than you have PZ. – dpitman

    So what? Most gangsters put themselves in harms way more frequently than most biology professors. We have to judge whether someone has put themselves in harms way in a good cause. I don’t think the imperialist wars Petraeus has been prosecuting have been beneficial, either to the USA or the wider world.

    Must be easy to sit on your ass at that computer and judge people or rate their performance doing a job you couldn’t manage if you lived to be 1000.

    Right, when you can’t defend the target of criticism, attack the critic. Boilerplate militarist bilge.

  49. 49
    carlie

    I think you should also keep in mind while Petraeus may not have been perfect I’ll bet over the years he put himself in harms way for this country far more times than you have PZ. Must be easy to sit on your ass at that computer and judge people or rate their performance doing a job you couldn’t manage if you lived to be 1000.

    I’ll assume from those comments you don’t know that he has a son in the military.

  50. 50
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Chas:

    I seriously hope you’re being sarcastic and not suggesting those with national security jobs should have no sexual relationships.

  51. 51
    birgerjohansson

    Testosterone-full alpha male cheats on wife. News at ten.

  52. 52
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    schweinhundt

    I don’t see how the general public’s respect for military personnel has morphed/crossed the line into worship.

    Disregarding any deeper analysis, have you noticed the size of the US military machine? Beyond anything remotely reasonable, it is funded by popular consent out of proportion to any potential benefit (frequently detriment) it brings.

    Military personnel receive some of the worship which is granted to “the military”; and yes, this quoted phrase is the signifier which the cult of things military gathers around, and how they refer to the object of their affection. (Especially when they are yelling at you about how you don’t respect it or similar.)

    —–

    Entirely separately:

    dpitman

    I don’t know who is saying solders are better than teachers or firemen, I just do not hear/see that being demonstrated.

    Must be easy to sit on your ass at that computer and judge people or rate their performance doing a job you couldn’t manage if you lived to be 1000.

    That’s where. Right there.

  53. 53
    McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there.

    This is one of those things that makes the sense of justice synapses in my skull say ‘shitdamnfuckpisshell.’

    You have a guy who is a career military person, so he’s doing service for his country. That’s a good thing.

    He pushed for more violence in the campaigns he was in charge of. Not good. But that’s not what he is being charged with.

    He is caught doing something that half the world’s population is guilty of indulging in. Does anyone care if someone else is having sex anymore, even if they’re already married? A LOT of humans aren’t even remotely as monogamous as they pretend.

    The thing he did that half the world is guilty of indulging in caused a security concern as the job he held at that time was head of the nation’s international security. Not good at all.

    I feel sorry for him as a career military person, ambivalent about what he did to cause the fiasco, concerned that he did the thing that could cause safety issues for other people in the armed forces.

    What is the suitable punishment here without punishing basic human sexual interest? He’s lost his (I was going to say position, but that would be unnecessarily funny) job. Perhaps a reprimand and forced retirement while still being able to retire as a general?

  54. 54
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith
    I’ll bet over the years he put himself in harms way for this country far more times than you have PZ. – dpitman

    So what? Most gangsters put themselves in harms way more frequently than most biology professors. We have to judge whether someone has put themselves in harms way in a good cause.

    You steal words from my mouth.

    I would also like to remind remind people that the guys who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center “put themselves in harm’s way”. So do jackasses who insist on climbing buildings without safety equipment, and people who drink and drive. Somehow, that does not make them heroes in most people’s minds.

    Risking your life doesn’t excuse you from commiting atrocities.

    Also, I don’t think that what the troops need from people at home is hero-worship and medals, but simple care and understanding of what they’ve been through. Medals don’t pay for proper healthcare to get over your PTSD or mitigate your loss of functional capacity, nor do they give you adequate jobs or revenue after service.

    Somehow, the people who push the costly ceremonies and unquestioning “support our troops” schtick tend to look the other way when those who “put themselves in harm’s way” come back home badly “harmed” – what lavish money they rain on hero-worship suddenly stops when the hero also turns out to be a real victim of their decisions.

    Yes, I’m looking at you, Steven Harper.

  55. 55
    truthspeaker

    You know what won’t get you fired from the CIA? Overriding your own agents and giving false intel to the president and Congress. That gets you a medal.

  56. 56
    42oolon

    Don’t care about the fawning or the scandal, just the wars.

  57. 57
    Marcus Ranum

    Beyond anything remotely reasonable, it is funded by popular consent out of proportion to any potential benefit

    I read a statistic someplace* the other day that a large majority (something like 80+%) of Americans favor reducing expenditures on defense. The main difference in that regard between Democrats and Republicans (according to the study) was something like that the average Democrat favored reductions on the order of 20+% while the average Republican favored reductions on the order of 10%. I am almost certainly mis-recalling those numbers; you should of course do your own research.

    The military is not funded by popular consent. Unless, by “popular consent” you mean “we have not yet rebelled and started giving congressmen tumbril rides.”

    (* http://hnn.us/articles/unlike-mitt-romney-most-americans-want-cut-us-military-spending )

  58. 58
    jg

    Leaving everything else aside: if the guy can’t even keep an affair secret, does he really inspire confidence as a spymaster?

  59. 59
    anteprepro

    And women love a man in uniform!

    Fuck off, nohellbelowus.

    I don’t know who is saying solders are better than teachers or firemen, I just do not hear/see that being demonstrated.

    He says, right after BAWWWING about this post being too close to Veteran’s Day and right before asking PZ how he DARES to “judge” soldiers when he hasn’t “put himself in harm’s way”. You can almost hear the salivation and the knee-jerking from here. And you seriously pretend that there is no hero worship going on? Obvious bullshit.

  60. 60
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    @Chas:

    I seriously hope you’re being sarcastic and not suggesting those with national security jobs should have no sexual relationships.

    No but he does have a point. People in positions of power with access to information (among other things) that is sensitive to national security are in a very vulnerable position when it comes to blackmail, outing, exposure, etc..

    Sexual relationships outside the “accepted” are prime targets for all of the above. Whether we like this or not, it’s how it is.

    It’s none of my business what Petraeus is doing on his own time but people charged with protecting the country, however you feel about that phrase, are going to be held to a different standard because of the powerful and sensitive nature of their job.

  61. 61
    dianne

    Also, I don’t think that what the troops need from people at home is hero-worship and medals, but simple care and understanding of what they’ve been through.

    Not to mention a populace that will elect leaders that won’t put troops in harm’s way unnecessarily. And by “in harm’s way”, I include forcing or coercing them into acts that will adversely affect their future mental health including drone killings, civilian massacres, and torture.

    In principle, a member of the military is supposed to refuse to carry out an illegal order as it is inconsistent with a standing order which says something on the order of “don’t commit crimes against humanity”. In practice, it is extremely hard to refuse an order, even without any risk of consequences to oneself, as the Milgram experiments amply demonstrate.

    The safety and mental health of US soldiers is to some extent in the hands of US voters. Vote in those who will demand that they commit war crimes and you’ll get a lot of soldiers coming home with PTSD.

  62. 62
    mcallahan

    “There is far too much soldier-worship in this country” As a Vietnam era draftee I also think soldier worship is a little excessive. Contrast that with the 30 years after the Vietnam war when I felt embarrassed to mention my service among my liberal friends. Perhaps the collective unconscious of the American people felt guilty for spurning our vets for 30 years. When the gulf war started all vets were suddenly appreciated.
    I wish the draft or mandatory service was started again because then everyone would have a stake in the war and not just the poor and unskilled with no other place to go. The privileged let the underprivileged fight for them now and no one gives a shit. If the sons and daughters of everyone across class lines went to war, we would all be on the streets in mass again for such frivolous wars as the ones we are in now

  63. 63
    r3a50n

    You, Mr. Myers, are missing the point as is much of the traditional media that has reported on this. The affair is not the scandal, though that is how it is framed by much of the traditional media and is probably why you have that mistaken impression.

    The real scandal here is the compromise of national security. Petraeus was compromising national security secrets by giving access to them to someone that did not have the clearance to receive them.

    I, like you, don’t care about the personal lives of politicians and policy makers. I agree with this tweet:

    breaking: powerful, attractive washingtonians fuck each other; can we get back to reporting on how they fuck the rest of us

    But I do care when someone’s personal life compromises our collective security.

  64. 64
    Matt Penfold

    But I do care when someone’s personal life compromises our collective security.

    You seem to have forgotten to provide evidence that security was compromised. Both articles you link to suggest it could have been, but do not offer any evidence that it actually was. In addition the FBI has stated it has no evidence there was any breach of security.

    Could you provide the evidence to support your assertion please, and then explain why you failed to do so originally.

  65. 65
    ChasCPeterson

    I seriously hope you’re being sarcastic and not suggesting those with national security jobs should have no sexual relationships.

    Of course I’m not. They should have all of the fulfilling sexual relationships they can, with other women and eunuchs.

  66. 66
    Ing

    Both Chas and the reponse to him made me lol.

    Raises a question; why is it ok for Patreus to ask people to risk their lives but not for us to ask him to risk blue balls for the sake of the nation.

  67. 67
    raven

    God and Country » david petraeus – deleted URL to a crazy website that causes brain damage.

    5 Mar 2012 – General Petraeus has, by his own hand, become a quintessential poster child of this fundamentalist Christian religious predation, Read more…

    Twitter / JeffSharlet: Petraeus also a Christian …
    https://twitter.com/JeffSharlet/status/267381377706622976

    3 days ago – Petraeus also a Christian moralist. In my book C St I wrote of his illegal endorsement of fundamentalist guide for soldiers. Expand Collapse …

    Patraeus is also a fundie death cult xian.

    No surprise. Hypocrisy is one of their three main sacraments.

    Did you know that religion is the source of all morality. LOL, yeah no one else has ever seen it either.

  68. 68
    Nick Gotts

    why is it ok for Patreus to ask people to risk their lives but not for us to ask him to risk blue balls for the sake of the nation. – Ing

    Why is he risking blue balls? In what desperate engagement for his country did he lose the use of both hands?

  69. 69
    demonhype

    mcallahan @62:

    That would be a terrible idea. For one thing, I remember my dad going on about how popular Vietnam was at first, and how people only started rethinking it when they saw too many bodybags coming home. Just like this thing in Iraq–everyone was cheering mindlessly and screaming abuse at anyone who dared not to dance and sing for war, much less dared to actually frown and say “this sounds like a bad idea”, and we only started caring when our body count started creeping up to a worrying level. Bringing back the draft wouldn’t prevent wars at all, because these things are started in a spark of emotional militaristic tribal irrationality.

    Not to mention the draft just gives the powers-that-be an endless supply of cannon fodder to keep their war going, whereas making it voluntary means at some point less people are going to be enlisting when the war is less popular, and even in a time of economic decline it’s going to be harder than if you could just send out the “congratulations, you’re joining the army whether you like it or not” cards if you need extra troops. If you can’t force people to enlist, you can’t keep it going forever.

    I think having a draft would backfire big-time, if increasing rationality about war is your goal. There is the whole “sunk cost” mentality, which means that everyone having kids being forced into the military will just increase that military worship and war glorification all the more, as they have now lost a kid to the war and/or the war is something they or their kid is doing and they don’t want to think of them as taking part in something wrong. We have that already, and with everyone having a personal hand in the war the pro-war mentality would go up faster and continue longer, rather than dying down.

    Besides which, what you are proposing by making all military service mandatory (or drafted) is to imprison people like me. Though not a pacifist, I oppose all military organization and would die before enlisting, because I consider the killing of another human being to be so serious that I refuse to put myself (or be put) into a position where I relinquish the right to decide for what purpose blood will be on my hands. And because I think the very basis of the military is the cause of most of the problems it purports to solve–being an organization of absolute hierarchical obedience, us against them mentality (extreme tribalism), and of course having the explicit purpose of violence towards “them”. I would never be a part of the military under any circumstances because I would not be able to live with myself (contrary to the popular opinion that I’m some sort of “coward”–which is laughable because I’ve been suicidal since twelve and would be more than eager to have a good cause to end it all on, and the full extent of my concerns involve the violence going from me to others rather than the other way around). What you are suggesting is to force someone like me to join an organization I feel is immoral and be subsequently forced to do things I feel are wrong and wouldn’t be able to live with, or else be sent to jail–where I’ll no doubt be beaten and tortured by the guards and/or the other inmates for being a “traitor”. I fail to see what purpose that serves, other than to violate the rights and freedoms the soldiers are being said to protect and make an example of people who dare to question or defy the worship of the military complex.

    I understand your concern that without that, the poor are the ones getting the short end of the stick, and that is definitely something to worry about. But I’m poor. And I got all manner of abuse from people about how they’re joining the Reserves so they can get free college, and what a stupid chump I am for working in the day-to-day grind and saving money for it instead, and how if I was smart I’d enlist post-haste. Rather than do something I felt was wrong in order to get a fast-track to a degree, I sweated it out in another venue. It wasn’t easy or fun, but it isn’t impossible.

    The way to fix the whole poor thing isn’t to force everyone to enlist, but to fight politically at home here to make sure of a strong economy so people have options other than the military–and guess which party is the one that constantly fights to keep that from happening? The same party that starts endless profiteering wars! If we could defuse the Republicans and Libertarians, that could do a lot of good on that front. But, unfortunately, I’m told that Republicans have a majority of support in the military, from the very people who were too poor to go anywhere else because of the Republican’s economic and domestic policies, and who are being sent to kill, fight, and die to protect the Republican’s financial interests. A little more of that “sunk cost” mentality people get.

    Besides which, when there was a draft the rich, even when they were drafted, tended to get the safer assignments and it was still usually the less-affluent who ended up on the front line, so at that point you just ended up with a lot of dead or maimed poor kids and some rich kids who now can reap the benefits of military worship without having actually, you know, gotten hurt or risked themselves seriously.

    I understand you have the best of intentions and it’s commendable that you’re thinking of how all of this affects the poor (which far too few people consider in relation to the military), but it always alarms me greatly whenever someone suggests that everyone should be forced into enlisting. It wouldn’t fix anything, it wouldn’t make people who have a psychological tribal tendency toward war to rethink it (until it’s too late, which would happen with or without a draft), but it would make life a living hell for those who oppose war (or the war in question) and would give the pro-war contingent yet more ways to make an example of their detractors.

  70. 70
    Nick Gotts

    Interesting article on the cult of the American general.

  71. 71
    mcallahan

    @Demonhype
    A little late here. You can be a big talker when you have no draft to answer. If you read my post then you would have noticed I asked for mandatory service which is not always the military. I met thousands like you who swore that they would never let themselves be drafted but when threatened with a felony or to be banished forever to Canada when you are only 19 years old then most change their minds or become conscientious objectors. COs become medics with one of the highest casualty rates and unless you are a quaker or a Seventh Day Adentist then good luck getting CO status.

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