Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Curious Coincidence?

In the past two days, two very prominent Americans have resigned from their positions.  These are General David Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Mr Christopher Kubasik, President and Chief Executive Officer designate at Lockheed Corporation.

Both men have resigned on account of extra-marital affairs, General Petraeus describing his behaviour as "unacceptable for the leader of the nation's main intelligence agency."  Mr Kubasik's resignation follows an investigation by an "ethics committee;"  the present CEO a Mr Robert Stevens commented that Mr Kubasik's relationship was "inconsistent with our values and standards."

This coincidence prompts several reflections in this writer.

First it reinforces my suspicion of a growing puritanism which I have suspected for many years: it is now routine for British MPs to resign under similar circumstances (I have never understood why this should be so). I do not see that an MP's (or for that matter any official's) private life need in any way affect his ability or indeed, inability to carry out his responsibilities. The only exception to this last point I would consider would be where an individual might be exposed to risk of blackmail which could endanger national security.

Second, I do not think that the CIA nor Lockheed should perhaps be the first in line to be adopting a high moral tone; of course optimists will say that there is always room for improvement, but both organizations have (inevitably perhaps given their fields of operation) what at the very least might be called murky histories and I do not think that senior officials' private lives are the first place to endeavour to effect an amelioration.

Third, it is well known that the French handle this sort of thing much better, having generally a greater respect for the private lives of their officials; perhaps the Americans should have reflected a little before referring to "Freedom Fries" and "Cheese-eating surrender monkeys" and making silly jokes about the very competent French armed forces. I must add that I doubt that such words came from the mouths of the Director of the CIA or the CEO at Lockheed.

Fourth, both resignations have come immediately after the re-election of President Obama; a cleaning of the Augean Stables perhaps? How would such matters have been treated under a Romney presidency?

I read in the BBC article linked above that General Petraeus's affair was with his biographer, Miss Paula Bradwell.  Miss Bradwell recently produced a piece for Newsweek called "General David Petraeus's Rules for Living".  It is important to read the piece; they are very good rules, though it would take a better man than I to follow them to the letter; I do not think that the General has infringed them. 

UPDATE: I see that senior BBC reporter, John Simpson has published an encomium of the general.  Despite lacking comprehensive knowledge of the subject, I am inclined to agree. I note that Simpson touches on the subject of blackmail risk to which I referred above.  I'd be willing to wager that in such circumstances, the General would be more likely to follow the example of the Duke of Wellington and say "Publish and be damned."

Until the next time


Anonymous said...

Number four is surely the get out clause?

Rules for dominating an enemy are not the same as rules to coexist with humanity.

The Christians God said, thou shalt not kill, but does an awful lot of smiting drowning and stuff "for the good of the human race"

so really we all know the rules but know they don`t apply to us if we choose them not to...some kind of universal hypocrisy gene.

Mr.`O is away and has sent me to talk rubbish instead

Paul said...

Yes, No 4. Well given Mr Romney's bible-bashing, I suppose that a) he would opt to be foremost amongst the smiters and b) "Thou shalt not commit adultery" would be well up on his agenda.

On the other hand "realpolitik" usually comes into play when one is in office, so perhaps an ostensible "hawk" would have been persuaded to remain at his desk - and have to face the awkward questions arising from recent events in Benghazi.

As a "don't know" I merely speculate hereabouts.

Anonymous said...

The General and Hilary now not available for Congressional hearings.. Who resigns instantly because of an affair these days.......

However I do have concerns that any man or woman with this kind of power who can lie so fluently to their loved ones. It begs the question of where else lies have been told. Can one really trust a man who has skillfully lied to such depth, to ever tell the truth?

would you neccessarily now believe his evidence at the Embassy hearings??


Paul said...

As I suggested in the post, far more resign these days following affairs than hitherto; I think it's stupid.

As for lying, it was said that a diplomat is someone who is sent abroad to lie for his country; it has also been said that when a diplomat says "yes" he means "maybe", when he says "maybe" he means "no" and if he says "no" then he's not a diplomat.

Any evidence given to a congressional hearing by General Petraeus would presumably have to be backed up by substantial records and documentation. Of course (remembering Blair's so-called "dodgy dossier") whether one believed the documentation would be another matter entirely.