Petraeus: Time to remove names of Confederate 'traitors' like Benning, Bragg from military bases

Former CIA Director David Petraeus argues in a new opinion piece that names of Confederate "traitors" should be removed from U.S. military bases. 

The retired Army general wrote in The Atlantic that "it is time to remove the names of traitors like Benning and Bragg from our country’s most important military installations," referring to the training bases named after Gen. Henry Benning and Gen. Braxton Bragg, who Petraeus argued were subpar military leaders "who left much to be desired."

"These bases are, after all, federal installations, home to soldiers who swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," the 67-year-old wrote. "The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention. Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention."

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"We do not live in a country to which Braxton Bragg, Henry L. Benning, or Robert E. Lee can serve as an inspiration. Acknowledging this fact is imperative. Should it fail to do so, the Army, which prides itself on leading the way in perilous times, will be left to fight a rearguard action against a more inclusive American future, one that fulfills the nation’s founding promise," he concluded.

The perspective from Petraeus, who also switched political parties in 2002 from Republican to Independent, comes amid mass protests following the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody late last month after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd, 46, was unarmed.

Part of the debate that has raged since regards Confederate statues, with some arguing they should be removed and others saying they are war memorials protected by law.

In a related development, the U.S. Marine Corps announced late last week that it would ban public depictions of the Confederate battle flag on Marine installations.

"The Confederate battle flag has all too often been co-opted by violent extremist and racist groups whose divisive beliefs have no place in our Corps," a Marine Corps statement on Friday read. "Our history as a nation, and events like the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, highlight the divisiveness the use of the Confederate battle flag has had on our society."