King David Rules

While I was taking a week off to celebrate Memorial Day the story broke about “King David” Petraeus secretly giving himself authority in back in September 2009 to start a war anywhere from the Horn of Africa to the Bananastans*. His secret directive allows him to bury America in another quagmire any time his black little heart desires without so much as a yes-you-may from the commander in chief or Congress. In a May 25 article, New York Times Pentagon stenographer Mark Mazzetti, to whom “military officials” showed the “secret” directive Petraeus had written, noted that “the precise operations that the directive authorizes are unclear” and that the order “does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.”

Mazzetti doubtless inserted the weasel wordiness at the behest of his buddies at Petraeus’  Central Command headquarters, whom he allowed to censor his exposé on them as a professional courtesy (he’s a nice, polite boy, that Mazzetti). The “precise operations that the directive authorizes” are whatever Petraeus decides he wants them to be at any given moment. That’s why he didn’t limit himself by clarifying what he was or wasn’t authorizing. You don’t fill in an amount when you write yourself a blank check.

As for the order not authorizing “offensive strikes,” any incursion of U.S. forces into a country without that country’s permission is an offensive action, one that the target countries should justifiably defend themselves against. Of course, the way the Mazzettis of the media spin things for the warmongery, once the penetrated country defends itself it becomes the aggressor, and our forces defend themselves by calling in air support and yahoo, Major Kong, we got us another war of necessity.

Mazzetti notes that spokesmodels for the Pentagon and the White House “declined to comment for this article.” No doubt they’re hoping The Oil Slick that Ate America will bury the story of how “Teflon General” Petraeus wholly devoured the legislative and executive branches of our government and got away with it.

That President Obama continues to duck a confrontation with King David confirms that our commander in chief has permanently subordinated himself to his generals. Young Mr. Bush, at least, only went along with whatever his four-stars said if his four-stars said what he wanted to hear. If they didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear, he got himself a passel of new four-stars who did (which is how Petraeus and his cronies came into power).

Obama should have busted everyone in the Department of Defense in the grade of bull colonel and above back to buck private citizen when he took office, and he should have canned every civilian with the word “secretary” in their title as well. Instead, he kept on the entire pogues’ gallery, and now we have a president who goes along with whatever his generals say even when they publicly tell him to kiss their keister like they did when they bullied him into going along with an Afghanistan surge.

It’s tough to tell who blabbed this tale to Mazzetti – it has the look and feel of both a sanctioned leak and a whistle recital. I doubt if the news came from Petraeus’ staff. Former CENTCOM commander Adm. William “Fox” Fallon had it right when he described Petraeus as an “a** kissing little chicken s***.” Petraeus is a back stabber, not someone who fights in the open, and there’s no reason to think he’d announce that he’d usurped civilian authority on the front page of the New York Times (or even on his favorite media outlet, Fox News.)

Whoever spilled is likely someone who doesn’t like Petraeus: but that hardly narrows the field of suspects. Mazzetti’s sources were almost certainly senior officers at the Pentagon, and the percentage of senior officers at the Pentagon who don’t like Petraeus is decimal points shy of three digits.

The rear-echelon colonels who haunt the Beltway often pass sensitive information to military correspondents, but for the most part they’re too concerned with holding on to their pensions and the cushy defense industry jobs waiting for them when they reach 30 years of service to do that sort of thing without high cover. Unlike, say, Karl Rove, these guys are subject to the kangaroo courtliness of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and they face real consequences for giving state secrets to the press. So you can bet a shiny new Virginia quarter that the okay to show and tell came from the four-star level. Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen is a prime candidate. The son of a high-profile Hollywood publicity agent, Mullen knows how to keep his name out of the press while using it to broadcast his message.

Maybe Mullen finally realizes what a monster he created by siding with Petraeus and the rest of the Long Warmongers to get himself appointed as chairman. Maybe he finally realizes that supporting the phony-baloney counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine means his beloved Navy’s budget will bite the big beluga in the post-recession economy. Maybe he’s finally reached the time in life where he’s concerned about whether his immortal soul gets a good parking spot.

It’s also possible the leak is part of the ongoing psychological operation against Iran. But the information that we have snake eaters on the ground in that country, and that they’re there to help foment an insurgency (is that counter-counter insurgency?) and collect targeting data for a great big bombing campaign, has been on the street for quite some years.

Whoever leaked the story for whatever reason they leaked it, we can be pretty darn sure that Petraeus did, in fact, promote himself by secret fiat to Praetorian dictator of Central and Western Asia, and we know for a fact that it’s now an open secret, and we know for a fact that Congress and President Obama are playing see-no-evil about it.

Whether Obama approved of Petraeus’ unconstitutional hooliganism from the get-go or is merely tacitly approving of it now, the net result is that Petraeus and the neoconservative/AIPAC cabal that champions him control U.S. foreign policy, and by extension America’s energy and economic policies as well, to an even greater extent than they did during young Mr. Bush’s reign.

Thus it is that Barack Obama’s ballyhooed “change” has gone the way of Big Daddy Bush’s “peace dividend.”

*The Bananastans are Afghanistan and Pakistan, our banana republics in Central Asia where U.S. and NATO forces are led by “Banana” Stan McChrystal.

Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.