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Sunday, September 16, 2007

General Petraeus: Political Puppet or Complicit Partisan Mercenary?

General Petraeus: Political Puppet or Complicit Partisan Mercenary?
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

So we hear from Petraeus that the surge is working, but I wonder if anyone — on the right or the left — ever believed that we'd ever hear anything else? Even if we didn't have a long history of how the Bush administration has misrepresented reality for the sake of partisan and/or ideological gain, it's hard to believe that there was ever any chance that the administration would report that the surge failed and so we should consider packing up and bringing the troops home.

Even if every Iraqi took up arms to unite in a concerted fight against American occupation, wouldn't the administration have found some way to spin the situation as being favorable? If it were obvious to everyone that the report would end up being positive and supportive of the administration's policies, though, why did General Petraeus agree to be part of the political theater surrounding it? Actually, calling it "political theater" is a bit generous because the acting on everyone's part was just too poor for anything with the label "theater."

Some might want to be charitable and assume that Petraeus went into the situation naive enough to believe that everything would be handled honestly, but even if that's the case, it isn't true that he has emerged out the hind end of this process just as naive as when he started. If he was a mere puppet at the beginning, he was a complicit actor by the end when he agreed to do an exclusive interview with Fox News where "interview" seems to mean "ask no probing questions and let the guest talk for as long as they want about whatever they want."

The administration has a history of using military figures as props for its ideological agendas, but at least Colin Powell was retired — Petraeus is still an active member of the military and as such must be held to a higher standard. No one serving in the military should allow themselves to be used in such a manner because the military itself must be seen as above ideological or partisan disagreements. Putting his name and face to the administration's fictional "report," though, gives everything an aura of impartiality and professionalism, which in turn undermines the ability of the military to continue to claim that it's impartial.

This is consistent with every other aspect of government, culture, and society which Bush and his sycophants have had a chance to meddle with. From government-funded science to the administration of justice, everything they touch is transformed into a partisan tool that is used solely for the furtherance of an ideological agenda, not for the general interests of society at large. The German term for such a program is Gleichshaltung, and its historical connotations are not the least bit pleasant.

Military leaders with integrity and who are genuinely interested in serving, defending, and protecting the nation will not allow themselves to be used as a prop in a political farce at home so that the tragedy of troops dying abroad can continue. Do we have any such military leaders left? We hear criticism from retired leaders, but that doesn't have the same impact or send the same message as someone who is still in uniform.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.