Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GEN Petraeus

Yesterday, I gave a talk here at BC as a member of the Student Veteran's Association. Peter took a day off work and came to class with me, which was nice. I had to wear my uniform and it was awkward--I don't like to stand out in school (other than, I hope, for my sparkling intellect).  Anyway, we walked in an immediately went to the snack bar to get a coffee. The lady who works the counter is, I believe, Filipina. She doesn't speak the best English, but she is very, very sweet. As we approached the counter, she laughed when she saw my uniform and said, "Don't get fired like the other guy...stay away from girls!"

Peter and I laughed and went to class. Then, we reflected.

It is a sad situation all around, but I leave aside the personal, moral or ethical aspects. I determined many, many years ago, when everyone had decided that what transpired between President and SEC Clinton was the business of all of us that I would never insert myself into someone else's marriage. But, there is more to this situation that the ethical or moral dimensions of the scandal. There are very important political and military ramifications, as evidenced by the reaction of the woman in the cafeteria.

Generals, or in this case the head of the CIA, have a responsibility and duty to hold themselves to the absolute highest standard possible. What is beaten into you from the first day you put on the uniform is that perception is 90% of reality.  GEN Petreaus knows this. He has put himself in a position where the perception is that he has violated his sacred duty.

If he has, or has not, is not really an important question. One should always hold the good of the military (or CIA--as I am sure the same organizational ethic holds true) before himself. While Petreaus eventually did resign, it wasn't soon enough. Moreover, GEN Allen should resign as well. Why? Because anything that distracts from the good of the troops on the ground in Afghanistan at this very moment should be avoided. What if that ruins the career of an otherwise honest and upright GEN who had dedicated himself to the uniform? Well, sadly, so be it. If GEN Allen is as dedicated to his troops as I imagine he is, then resigning his post at detriment to his own career if it helps deflect some of this scandal from affecting his troops is worth the price.


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