--We think he looks like Alfafa,
though "Spanky" would be a better nickname
Tell me how this ends?
The power of example is very important
to people under stress
--General Sir John Hackett
[We at RangerAgainstWar find the scuttlebutt surrounding the General Petraeus incident interesting and provocative on many levels, and so will examine its implications over the next week.]
Today: Officers, not Gentlemen
Once upon a time there was a military academy called West Point, which held as its highest imperative their Honor Code, a road map for behavior suiting an officer and a gentleman, a man who would reflect the highest moral values of a brave new nation.
Many years later, after the United States failed to win its first two military actions in as many decades (Korea and Vietnam), there came a graduate who would endeavor to restore shine to his nation's military by being a part of grand plan -- the redefinition of warfare, late-20th century-style. This cadet, David Petraeus, would write his thesis explaining the new way of war for the United States (the Counterinsurgency) and he would go on to pen the titular FM 3-24 -- COIN -- which promised a new and winning outcome to foreign wars by applying the moral values of America to win far-flung hearts and minds of people less moral than we.
In its moral high dudgeon, the United States tromped off to find its success in the woman-demeaning Middle East, hoping to teach them to not stone women for adultery, for instance. The now-General Petraeus staked his claim on the success of his doctrine and sought to redeem his country's esteem, but all the Brasso at his disposal could not remove the tarnish he himself would re-apply.
True, he did not (literally) stone a woman, but his adulterous behavior is not consonant with the morals he and his fellows would purport to be exporting. He recognized this (as a CIA report threatened to go public), and correctly removed himself from public office. It is unknown if the affair began while he was still ISAF Commander; if so Petraeus was derelict and guilty of battlefield cowardice by espousing one set of values with his words and defiling them by his actions. If so, he may be subject to military charges. Knowing, however, there are different spanks for different ranks.
How can a hypocrite win anyone's heart or mind? Is it a greater good to export adultery or to disapprove of its punishment? Should not the man tasked with imposing our belief system upon a foreign land not at least implement the best of that heritage in his personal conduct? Is it any wonder the U.S. is seen as morally bankrupt hypocrites? Maybe there is a corroding worm that lives within our vaunted freedoms. Maybe man is destined everywhere to corrupt the good he would do. How did an honor code become so fuzzy?
If we have no fixed moral compass, how can we expect FM 3-24 with its "panoply" of pretty words to export the thing we cannot manage ourselves? Stoning a woman for adultery is one step beyond adultery only because we value each human life. However, seen from a more traditional perspective, all transgressions that threaten to unseat the authority of one's culture and jurisprudence are equally offensive. Our Ten Commandments are not listed in hierarchical order; killing and adultery are both theological crimes.
Further, on the nuts and bolts level, how was Gen. Petraeus's dalliance financed? Did our tax dollars finance his "bad decision"?
Counterinsurgency and morality should be complimentary concepts. Why could a major COIN war not produce a Four Star 0-10 that could decisively affect the outcome of the effort? [Generals McKiernan and McChrystal were previously both relieved of duty.] Will it be the moral, tactical or strategic deficiencies which will prove the greatest detractor from U.S. COIN policy? Why is the U.S. Army incapable of producing 0-10's capable of theatre Army command?
General Petraeus has now reached the tail end of his teleological inquiry.