Today America is a nation at war. President Obama and our Joint Chiefs of Staff are trying to successfully end the war. Our troops remain in combat. The world remains dangerous. And our politicians are using the threat of military sequesters in ways that are damaging and destructive to commanders, noncommissioned officers, active-duty troops of all ranks, essential civilian defense employees, military readiness, rational military procurement, military families and confidence from American allies working with us in joint missions. The use and abuse of the threat of military-related sequesters hurts our security and must end.
As President Obama and Congress discuss a solution to avoid the nation falling over the fiscal cliff, let me first propose that never again should politicians use the military the way the military is now being used in the cliff debate. The idea was to threaten cuts in defense so severe that politicians would be motivated to reach budget agreements. The reality is that while politicians maneuver, our troops remain in combat while their budget remains in limbo. Let’s remember that in the real life of a nation at war, the budget involves life-and-death matters for the troops who battle on our behalf. Let’s now consider a few matters of importance:
In fits and starts over Thanksgiving weekend I read pieces of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. As a nonfiction author who checked her Amazon page in the tense days after pub date, I looked at Broadwell’s soaring “best-sellers rank” when the story was in the headlines (110), but as it faded, I returned just now to Amazon to find the book with a decent — I’d love to have it — ranking of 3,952; decent but not best-selling.
With Gen. David Petraeus testifying to a congressional committee behind closed doors today about Libya in his former role as CIA director, his flawed legacy in Afghanistan has become obscured amid the waves of scandal lapping around him.
In Afghanistan, Petraeus oversaw the militarization of President Obama’s foreign policy, the “surge” of U.S. troops aimed at preparing for a phased handover to a professional force of Afghan troops and police, using his Iraq counterinsurgency policy as a model. The policy of using the military for nation-building is now in tatters, with the powerful U.S. military demoralized by the “green on blue” attacks by Afghans against their mentors, the Afghans’ screening and training called into question on a daily basis. Sixty-one coalition soldiers have been killed by members of the Afghan National Army or police this year.
Several CIA directors have had affairs, and, even though this doesn't excuse the behavior, it makes the secrecy of this current situation all the more suspect. The FBI was first informed of the affair in May, along with the attorney general, and the affair was investigated. It strains the limits of credulity to say that this top-level investigation was ongoing without the knowledge of the White House. Such things simply do not and have not occurred in the past.
Washington’s seasons provide dramatic welcomes to its citizens. Cold winter evolves into flowery spring and denizens move outside, shed heavy clothing and inhale the freshness. So, too, do the capital's political seasons bring welcoming changes.
We move regularly from the intensity of debates over foreign misadventures to tax reforms and stressful infighting among our representatives, to the sexual affair of the moment, grateful for the always-engaging examinations of human frailty and the weaknesses of our representatives: the meaning of legs sliding in airport men’s rooms, midnight baths in fountains, furtive visits to houses of prostitution (whose names will be seen on the madam's black books?). What a relief from the tedium of two years of electoral politics to read about generals' indiscretions.
For those who do not wait for the nonpartisan investigations about events in Libya to report, and prefer to make partisan attacks to exploit the death of Americans, I would simply respond this way. If they want to discuss lying in public life, I propose we begin an extended discussion about the role of those who falsely claimed weapons of mass destruction in order to frighten people to justify the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps we can discuss those who shamefully disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, and were less than candid about their role. As the attacks against Secretary of State Clinton continue, I repeat my view that those who make them are making a big mistake.
Three men ultimately reversed the wanton disregard for tradition and character in the Iraq invasion: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Gen. David Petraeus and Adm. Bill McRaven. Like Eisenhower and Co., they did not start the war and were not in place when the world fell apart, but were called on in the interim to put it back together. It is not by accident that all true historic periods end with a great leader and a great general (Jefferson/Washington, Lincoln/Grant, Roosevelt/Eisenhower). It is nature’s way of repealing the unraveling and putting things back in place with structure and authority so the world can start again at a new beginning. Petraeus is Mitt Romney’s man for that and should be his choice for VP. It is the choice of strength and American structure and karma today needs strengthening, if not complete restructuring.
Let me first commend to everyone's attention the excellent and important piece in The Hill by Emmanuel Touhey about the excellent work being done by programs that support veterans and, above all, the need for every vet to take full advantage of these programs.
Touhey’s piece features the contribution and views of Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), an American hero who was instrumental in the passage of the latest GI bill, and the vital work of the Pat Tillman Foundation, named after another great American hero of our generation. The foundation makes an enormous contribution to education for vets who return home.
The model for the proposed Eisenhower memorial looks now like toy soldiers preparing to mount for D-Day. And there is no telling what the final result will be with trickster architect Frank Gehry making the decisions. There is a riddle here: Why is a general who ranks with Lord Nelson, with Grant, being treated with such light-handedness? Two things today: As The Washington Post reports, The Eisenhower Memorial Commission, a bipartisan body tasked with creating a memorial to the 34th president of the United States, has agreed to delay a critical design hearing tentatively scheduled for July. And most important, President Obama has entered. As AP reports, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has expressed interest in viewing models of architect Frank Gehry's design with the key parties involved. No meeting has been set, but Salazar could hold discussions about how the memorial project could move forward.