Stewart hits Petraeus over US military complex: Lost wars and ‘Pentagon got a raise’
Comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart pushed back against the U.S. military-industrial complex while speaking with former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus in an interview for Stewart’s Apple TV+ show.
“It looks to me like we lost 20 years in Afghanistan, 20 years in Iraq, and the Pentagon got a raise,” Stewart says on “The Problem with Jon Stewart.”
“They got 50 billion more dollars than they even asked for,” he continued, referring to the Defense Department receiving an additional $58 billion for military projects beyond what was requested during this fiscal year.
Petraeus responded that the increase in defense funding was not because of the experience of the U.S. military during the wars but a result of “a return of great power rivalries and the need to transform the force.”
He said the security challenges facing the country currently are more complex and more significant than any that the U.S. has faced since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s.
“Look, if we don’t do it, someone else will,” Petraeus said.
He said China represents the “biggest plate” for the U.S. to keep track of, but other countries like North Korea and Russia also pose threats.
Petraeus said the U.S. could have continued to “manage” the situation in Afghanistan but not win or solve it. He said doing so might have been a better path than the withdrawal from the country that has allowed widespread hunger to afflict the Afghan population and prevented many Afghan women from attending school.
“Is that for us to decide for people in other countries? These aren’t chess pieces to be moved around,” Stewart responded.
He said the U.S. has had “enough trouble” taking care of its own people, referring to some difficulty that Congress had last year in passing a bill that expanded health care coverage for veterans exposed to burn pits, which were used to dispose of waste on military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Stewart was vocal in criticizing some Republican senators who opposed it. The bill eventually was passed, and President Biden signed it into law.
Stewart said the countries where burn pits were used will “bear the scars” of them, as they caused toxic materials to get into the soil, air and people.
“We don’t ever reckon with the true reality of our intellectualized exercises in stability and democracy with the people on the ground,” he said.
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