By Ray Starmann
I’ve always thought highly of General David Petraeus. He’s a smart man who was an extremely competent US Army general officer; perhaps even a mini MacArthur without the gigantic ego and the propensity for hunkering down in dugouts.
Petraeus was the man who led the surge, who took command of US forces in Afghanistan, who later became the Director of the CIA. In an era searching for real military leadership, Petraeus seemed just what the doctor ordered.
Or, was he?
His reputation was tarnished by an affair with his biographer and his carelessness which allowed her access to his Top Secret desk calendar.
Be in no doubt, General Petraeus’ violations of national security laws, by disclosing classified information to someone who didn’t have the need to know (but who had a clearance) is a drop in the ocean, a water molecule compared to the tsunami of crimes committed by #CrookedHillary.
But, now, I’m starting to have my doubts about the good general and I’m also wondering where his political loyalties lie.
In an OPED, penned for the Washington Post, dated, May 13, 2016, and titled “Anti-Muslim Bigotry Aids Islamist Terrorists, Petraeus sounds like he’s working for the Clinton Foundation.
Petraeus has been helping himself to some of that PC Kool Aid, which is available on tap, at the Pentagon’s Cognitive Dissonance Bar and Grill every day.
Here are some of the main points from his anti-Trump screed:
As states across the Middle East have collapsed into civil war, Islamist extremist groups such as the Islamic State have exploited the upheaval to seize vast swaths of territory, which they have used to rally recruits, impose totalitarian rule over the people trapped in these areas and plot attacks against the rest of the world.
It would be a mistake to minimize the continuing risk posed by these groups. While Islamist extremist networks do not pose an “existential” threat to the United States in the way that Soviet nuclear weapons once did, their bloodlust and their ambition to inflict genocidal violence make them uniquely malevolent actors on the world stage.
Nor can they be “contained.” On the contrary, from Afghanistan before 9/11 to Syria and Libya today, history shows that, once these groups are allowed to establish a haven, they will inevitably use it to project instability and violence.
They might not be able to be completely contained, but they can be severely weakened by a military campaign with the goal of destroying ISIS in Syria and Iraq, aka a haven for ISIS.
Moreover, the fact is that free and open societies such as ours depend on a sense of basic security to function. If terrorism succeeds in puncturing that, it can threaten the very fabric of our democracy — which is, indeed, a central element of the terrorist strategy.
For that reason, I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that has become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion.
Petraeus contradicts himself here by stating how dangerous ISIS is, and that we need security to survive, but even the mention of a temporary ban on Muslim visitors or immigrants is “racist.” In fact, Mr. Trump’s plan entails reworking the system to successfully vet Muslim visitors and immigrants, rather than continuing the broken system that exists today.
Some justify these measures as necessary to keep us safe — dismissing any criticism as “political correctness.” Others play down such divisive rhetoric as the excesses of political campaigns here and in Europe, which will fade away after the elections are over.
I fear that neither is true; in fact, the ramifications of such rhetoric could be very harmful — and lasting.
Petraeus appears more worried about our reputation in the Muslim world, rather than our own security. The defense of the nation is the primary responsibility of the President and the military. Their primary responsibility is not maintaining a rapport with Saudi Arabia which uses and despises us.
As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive: Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable — a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.
According to Petraeus, even the mere thought of banning Muslims, will somehow irritate ISIS, as if they already don’t have a plan to kill us. This is pure rationalization at its core. It’s the equivalent of trying not to make eye contact with a bully, in the hopes that the bully won’t harass you.
Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The terrorists’ explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations — telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion. When Western politicians propose blanket discrimination against Islam, they bolster the terrorists’ propaganda.
The West is in a clash of civilizations with Islam and has been on and off for over a 1,000 years. No amount of political correctness is going to stop what is inevitable, which is total war with ISIS.
During the surge in Iraq, we were able to roll back the tide of al-Qaeda and associated insurgents because we succeeded in mobilizing Iraqis — especially Sunni Arabs — to join us in fighting against the largely Sunni extremist networks in their midst. Later, we took on the Iranian-backed Shiite militia, with the important support of the Shiite-majority Iraqi security forces.
Likewise, the rapid ouster of the Taliban regime after 9/11 was made possible by our partnership with Muslim fighters of the Afghan Northern Alliance. And in Southeast Asia, it was by working with the government of Indonesia — the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world — that Jemaah Islamiah, once one of al-Qaeda’s most capable affiliates, was routed.
The good news is that today, hundreds of thousands of Muslims are fighting to defeat the terrorists who wish to kill us all. Inescapably, clearing territory of entrenched terrorist networks and then holding it takes boots on the ground. The question is — whether in Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria or Mali — do the bulk of those boots need to be our own or those of local Muslim partners?
I fear that those who demonize and denigrate Islam make it more likely that it will be our own men and women who ultimately have to shoulder more of this fight — at greater cost in dollars and lives.
Unfortunately, the US will have to shoulder the majority of the fight on the ground. The US always has to bear the burden. The idea that we can be politically correct to Muslims, let them lead the way on the ground, while hitting ISIS from the air, is a pipe dream.
We should also acknowledge that patriotic Muslim Americans in our intelligence agencies and armed forces — many of them immigrants or children of immigrants — have been vital assets in this fight with radical Islam.
According to Petraeus, we shouldn’t have said anything bad about the Germans in WWII, because Eisenhower or Private Joe Schmidt from St. Louis might have been insulted.
Again, none of this is to deny or diminish the reality that we are at war with Islamist extremism — a fanatical ideology based on a twisted interpretation of Islam. Nor is it to minimize the need for smart, intelligence-driven measures to prevent terrorists from infiltrating our borders and exploiting our immigration policies.
Wouldn’t a temporary ban on a majority of Muslim visitors and immigrants, based largely on country of origin be a prudent measure to take General? Wouldn’t that be a smart, intelligence driven measure?
But it is precisely because the danger of Islamist extremism is so great that politicians here and abroad who toy with anti-Muslim bigotry must consider the effects of their rhetoric. Demonizing a religious faith and its adherents not only runs contrary to our most cherished and fundamental values as a country; it is also corrosive to our vital national security interests and, ultimately, to the United States’ success in this war.
Is Petraeus bucking for Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager? Mr. Trump is not a racist because he believes in protecting this nation by securing our borders. Islam may be a religious faith, but it is being twisted into a political movement. How is securing our borders corrosive to our national security General? Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and I, frankly am not going to surrender mine or this country to Muslim extremists in the name of political correctness.
The General should know better than anyone that political correctness never wins wars. Much of his philosophy stems from the Army’s latest obsession with hearts and minds and peacekeeping instead of fire and maneuver. Every soldier now is apparently Lawrence of Arabia, sitting on a Persian rug in Alec Guiness’ tent eating pigeon Kabsa, dates and dried apricots.
Nothing is written General…except our eventual destruction at the hands of Muslim terrorists if we don’t get tough.
The General is literally calling for self-censorship, as was the case in Europe after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. European newspapers stopped publishing cartoons that would enrage Muslims. Obviously, that didn’t work out too well. Just ask the people of Paris and Brussels.
Even though Petraeus is retired, his attitude is typical of the military in 2016.
General Dick Cavazos once remarked that there were three types of soldiers: killers, fillers and fodder. The brass is sorely lacking in killers and is weighted down by a few fillers and mostly fodder.
We need a modern day General Patton or a Schwarzkopf to hold a press conference and say, “We’re going to obliterate ISIS and Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth. We’re going to do that by carpet bombing them, shooting them between the eyes, napalming them and sending them back to the gates of hell where they belong.”
As for now, I’m sliding Petraeus over to the feather merchants group. He, like the majority of senior leaders in the military is too worried about insulting someone rather than about defending this nation and annihilating our enemies.