Since 2009, successive top US military commanders in Afghanistan have been met with controversy, embarrassment, and displeasure, mostly for personal things which society condemns, rather than for moral crimes in a needless war, which society apparently is fine with.
The very next year, President Obama fired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal when journalist Michael Hastings published an account of McChrystal and his inner circle mocking and speaking disparagingly about the President and other top officials.
Then over the summer, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell was being accused of obstructing an investigation into widespread corruption and abuse by Afghan security forces and military medical staff that he managed, arguing to his underlings that such abuse could not get out “during an election cycle.”
Then on Friday of last week, CIA Director David Petraeus — who replaced McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan – resigned his post after an FBI investigation revealed an extra-marital affair that began while still on active duty and which may have included breaches of security and classified information.
Now on Tuesday of this week it was revealed that the current US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, was also implicated in this strange love triangle between Petraeus and two other women.
The fate of Gen. Allen will be revealed in the near future, but “[w]hile the matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, Gen. Allen will remain commander of ISAF,” said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said in a statement, adding that Allen “is entitled to due process in this matter.”
Obama had been planning on welcoming Assistant Marine Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford to soon replace Gen. Allen, in a staffing shift unrelated to the scandal. And the decision will be all the more scrutinized now.
Every top commander since Obama took office has run into massive scandal and serious public relations problems for the administration. But the military men met no such controversy in carrying out the needless, failure of a war in Afghanistan.
By every observable metric, and by the military’s own measures of success, the mission in Afghanistan has failed miserably. At immense cost to the American taxpayer and US troops, the war has continued despite the Taliban insurgency being as strong as ever, the nation-building project in Kabul has failed, violence has not decreased, and the country is headed for collapse in the coming years.
These commanders only saw their public careers threatened after personal and comparatively minor transgressions. But when they, for example, trained, armed and funded the Afghan Local Police, who face mounting allegations of rape, murder, theft, and torture in Afghanistan.
The ALP has been accused of “beating teenage boys and hammering nails into the feet of one boy,” although arrests are never made. “In April,” a Human Rights Watch report documents, “four armed ALP members in Baghlan abducted a 13-year-old boy on his way home from the bazaar and took him to the house of an ALP sub-commander, where he was gang raped.” The perpetrators are well known, but no arrests were made.
These are the US-trained forces that Petraeus told the Senate were “arguably the most critical element in our effort to help Afghanistan develop the capacity to secure itself.”
This behavior our political system and our culture accepts. Cheating on your wife and talking smack about the President, on the other hand, is unacceptable.