One man is as the center of a story you can’t avoid in the media, since last Friday. General David Petraeus, architect of the U.S. “surge” in Iraq, pulled in to “save” Afghanistan, then bumped over to the CIA last year, was forced to resign because the FBI, we are told, found out about an affair he was having with a fawning biographer.
The other story is one you could barely find until days ago, despite the subject being a soldier who allegedly killed 16, including nine Afghan children, on March 11 last year near Kandahar. Robert Bales, an Army Staff Sargent, is said by the Army to have gone on a rampage in two villages, and is facing a court martial involving the death penalty.
Those in charge of U.S. national security are reeling, though you can hardly find a word of criticism for General Petraeus, save his admitted “indiscretion.” He’s said to be a national hero, and somehow even more of one, since he “sacrificed” his career and resigned.
This is completely outrageous. Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone led to the firing of General McChrystal in Afghanistan has also been following Petraeus for years. He writes that in Afghanistan:
The reputations of the men who were intimately involved in these years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters. McChrystal, Caldwell, and now Petraeus — the era of the celebrity general is over. Everyone is paying for their sins. (And before we should shed too many tears for the plight of King David and his men, remember, they’ll be taken care of with speaking fees and corporate board memberships, rewarded as instant millionaires by the same defense establishment they served so well.)
David Petraeus ran two illegitimate, unjust occupations, the whole Central Command, and now the CIA. Adultery is surely the least of his crimes.
Bales, who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably was driven nuts, as his lawyers assert. His crime is a horror, as we saw from testimony linked into Fort Lewis over the last few days from victims in Afghanistan. The AP reports:
The stories recounted by the villagers have been harrowing. They described torched bodies, a son finding his wounded father, and boys cowering behind a curtain while others screamed, “We are children! We are children!”
The actions of both of these men represent the real face of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and they need to be thoroughly investigated, with the aim of keeping criminals like this away from people they could kill.