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elbanditoroso's avatar

Was this Petraeus/Allen CIA - Army scandal (big boys with big toys) predictable? Is it a natural consequence of the "military can do no wrong" philosophy we have in this country?

Asked by elbanditoroso (15951 points ) November 13th, 2012

It’s clear that the US military has an honored status in the country. No one can deny that, as it is well deserved.

It seems to me that the commanders – the high level officers – inflated that respect to a sort of teflon-level. “We’re the guys with the largest brass on our epaulets and we can get away with anything we want!”.

Throw in an overwhelmingly male culture and the machismal swaggering that goes with it, and you have a fertile ground for men with big egos (and perhaps other things) displaying hubris and stupidity.

Was this current scandal predictable? Is it a natural consequence of the evolution of our military?

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15 Answers

Judi's avatar

I still haven’t warped my head around what’s going on, but I will follow this question to see if I can get a better grasp. Right now, even watching the news, I’m like, “Hu?”

janbb's avatar

I don’t know yet either. I don’t I’d be inclined to draw any big conclusions other than that “people really fuck up.” I’m just glad it didn’t explode before the election.

Judi's avatar

I didn’t mean to say warped, It may have been a Freudian slip though.

zenvelo's avatar

As I saw on twitter today, it’s like once you get into senior military command you get to go to a monthly key party at the Officer’s Club.

It seems Allen did not have an affair,but 20,000 pages of emails is a lot of conversation.

I don’t think it has anything to do with the status of the military in our culture. I think it has more to do with men in power that are away from home fro extended periods of time, with access to women who by dint of their job get put in an admiring role.

Broadwell seems to have been more enamored with her level of access and showing that off than she was about Petraeus, And I can see him meeting daily with a fawning admirer who is asking intimate details of his life, and him falling into an affair he never intended.

marinelife's avatar

Not all of the commanders are cheat and liars. Just like the rest of the human race some are.

wundayatta's avatar

No. Even military boys and girls are people, too. And like the rest of us, they like love and sex. It’s just that when they get caught, their organizations have rules against sex that are much stronger than the rest of society.

In the rest of society, the rules are social. A little bit legal, if you get a divorce, but mostly social. You get in trouble with your spouse and friends and the community. People gossip. They snivel. They talk.

If you’re in the military, you get court martialed. If you’re in the CIA, you get fired. Or maybe you fire yourself. If you’re in politics, who knows what will happen. Some politicians stick it out and some quit. If you’re in religion, you might get fired, or you might plead weakness of the flesh, promise never to do it again, and ask forgiveness.

The data about how many people have affairs is all over the place. The range goes from 15% to 75% or men, and between 10% and 60% of women. I don’t know what to believe. I think, though, that more people are having affairs than admit it, and that if we knew the true extent, most people would be wondering what was wrong with them that they weren’t getting any extra nookie. No. That’s just a silly exaggeration. But I do think a lot more is going on than we think.

So it stands to reason it is happening in the military and the CIA and the FBI (the original FBI investigator was sending Jill Kelly pictures of himself with his shirt off). It happens in churches and among accountants and for God’s sake, even among jellies!

People act all scandalized and tut-tut, but I seriously doubt anyone is truly surprised. I think most people just put up a good front for appearances, and then remind themselves they better use an IP anonymizer before they send out another email to their lover. If they care.

Because the truth is that most people who are caught don’t suffer these consequences. Their spouses don’t divorce them. Many are even forgiven. Life goes on. And if your spouse does divorce you, you deal. Again. Life goes on. Affairs are not the end of the world. They can be a big shock, but people survive.

I’m not sure if I think this is hypocrisy or not. Maybe others will offer an opinion. Sex is pretty interesting. Other people’s relationships are great stories. We love to talk about them. The more emotionally involved we get, the better. So acting shocked and dismayed makes the story better. It’s entertaining. And we can get holier than thou if we want. Especially those who have never had an affair. This can reinforce their sense of selves.

For we who have had affairs, we can be more confirmed that we aren’t abnormal. Look. Even generals do this. If they can’t keep their peckers in their pants, then maybe we aren’t so weak if we can’t do it either. Or maybe it is part of being human, and it is unrealistic to expect us to remain monogamous for life.

I’m a human being. It seems General Petraeus is, too. I don’t think he should have resigned, although I understand the pressure he must have felt. Affairs wouldn’t be a problem for anyone if we relaxed our social ideas about monogamy. Not that that will ever happen. Although it is different in other societies. So perhaps it could happen in the US. But plural marriage? Nope. I’m not holding my breath.

Judi's avatar

@wundayatta , the problem when your dealing with national security is that once you compromise your principals you are vulnerable. It’s a little different. It’s a hard job and a lot to ask, but he knew what he was signing up for, and took the risk anyway. The head of the CIA is and SHOULD be held to a higher standard. I respect that the General decided to hold himself accountable and disqualify himself rather than risk being held hostage by his secret.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I respect that the General decided to hold himself accountable and disqualify himself rather than risk being held hostage by his secret. I agree with everything you said @Judi except for this ^^^. He knew the FBI was investigating him, and never said anything until he was asked to resign by the Director of National Intelligence.

I do agree that any individual dealing with our National security should be held to a higher standard.

wundayatta's avatar

We live in times where suddenly losing the CIA director is a real problem. There is no security risk once the affair become public knowledge. I don’t think the President should have accepted the resignation, although, had I been President, I think I would have accepted it at the time. It is only in hindsight that I think it becomes clear that was a bad move.

I just read an article in the New York Times that suggested a lot of people don’t think he should have resigned. That comforts me.

linguaphile's avatar

Why do we even give two licks about where anyone puts their tallywacker, if they’re doing their job? That’s my take on the whole situation.

I understand that our leaders should be more accountable, but they should be more accountable as measured by their job performance. I fail to see what an illicit liaison has to do with job performance. There’s a possibility of shared state secrets, yes, but that can happen without an affair, and affairs can be conducted without leaking information. If Petraeus leaked, then deal with that, not whatever he did in bed.

FDR did an excellent job with a mistress on the side. Hell, reportedly, his own wife did an excellent job with a mistress on the side as well. I don’t condone affairs, but I do think it’s blown out of proportion, like Clinton, Edwards, Gary Hart, Tiger Wood, et. al. were.

I’m also of the mindset that I have no idea what someone is going through within their marriage—so much happens emotionally, physically and mentally—and temporally—and our needs are so broad, varied and often subconscious. Sometimes it’s less about sex and more about needing friendship, reassurance, vitality or simply someone that understands, so how can I say what’s right or wrong for them? So I do not make conclusions, and strongly believe that affairs do not happen without an underlying reason.

I don’t find entertainment value in anyone’s relationship problems. I feel really bad for anyone thrust into the spotlight with their emotional skeletons-in-the-closet.

Judi's avatar

@SpatzieLover , I didn’t realize that he was ASKED to resign. That puts a different spin on it.

gondwanalon's avatar

What is confusing you is the key to all of this. You see you are suppose to be confused. That is the point. This is all about covering up the the General knows about what happened in the Benghazi terrorist attack on 9–11-12 that left 4 Americans dead including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The bottom line here is that Gen. Petraeus will likely not testify about what he knows about the Benghazi attack because if he does then he will be subject to UCMJ court-martial for involvement in the romantic triangle. The General likely does not want to go to jail for a long time so he will keep his mouth shut and Obama safe.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@gondwanalon Ah, yes, that must be why the FBI agent involved went all the way to Eric Cantor with this a week before the election, fearing there was a coverup to benefit Obama because it hadn’t already broken.

Oh, wait, no, that makes no sense at all, and only does to those who are absolutely desperate to turn this into a conspiracy about Bengazi.

Also, it’s kind of hilarious that the conspiracy theorists are putting so much on Petraeus, as if he’s the only one that could possibly know the ‘truth’ about Bengazi. There are other paper trails and records and subordinates to be subpenaed, you know, if there was a real conspiracy going on this would just make it only a little harder.

wundayatta's avatar

Petraeus will testify, anyway. Congress wants to hear from him, even if he no longer runs the CIA. But it will be in closed session, and I don’t know how much of it will get out. So conspiracy theorists will never be satisfied, I’m afraid. But it’s good they have things to fulminate about. Keeps them out of trouble.

MrGuru's avatar

Until we have a better way to watch the watcher’s so to speak this attitude will remain the government under the guise of national security have done unspeakable atrocity’s that we may not even know about.
It is difficult to remain transparent with those you protect and to find a balance between national security and human rights, without blurring the lines to an extent where they are visible and easily discernible.
With the advent of mobile devices, computers and the internet has given the government a greater reach into our personal lives, without more legislation on this matter we will never see the day where we reach a finality to this debate/debacle any time soon.

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