Libya All In? Failed NATO Mission Exposes US Generals – OpEd


By Horace G. Campbell

Carter Ham has been removed as head of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM). General Petraeus resigned from the CIA on November 9. Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette was reassigned on October 26 as the commander of the USS John C. Stennis strike group. These three changes at the top of the US military establishment are all related to the failed NATO intervention in North Africa and the subsequent war and killings that have been unleashed by militias in Libya, especially in Benghazi. These changes exposed the new autonomy and war fighting capabilities that were being experimented where the CIA and the leaders of the military command structures such as AFRICOM and Central Command (CENTCOM) made policy independent of the executive branch and civilian leadership. This experiment shattered with devastating consequences for the entire military apparatus ensnaring generals, financial speculators, media specialists on the military and politicians.

On October 18, 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command. Carter Ham had taken over as commander of AFRICOM from General William ‘Kip’ Ward on March 8, 2011 and had been placed before the international news as the person in charge of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, when it was assumed that the intervention would be over in one month. This war dragged on for more than one year, and a year later, after the NATO forces announced ‘success’ in Libya, the battles with the sponsored militias led to the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya on September 11, 2012. One month after the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others, (one State Department high tech specialist and two CIA operatives) in the US ‘facility’ in Benghazi, the internal investigations into the US military response led to the nomination of General David Rodriquez. If and when David Rodriquez is confirmed by the US Senate, AFRICOM will have been led by three different commanders in less than four years.

Two days after Barack Obama was re-elected the President of the United States, on November 9, it was announced that General David Petraeus, a retired four-star general and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was resigning from his position. David H. Petraeus, who had courted the press and academia to build a reputation as a successful soldier-scholar, resigned suddenly as C.I.A. director after evidence of an extramarital affair began to come into the public arena. Inside Washington, the extramarital affair was an open secret that there was a relationship with the biographer who had written, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. This book was published in January 2012 and when Paula Broadwell appeared on the Daily Show in January to promote her biography of General Petraeus, she was full of innuendo so that those who could read the subtext of her message could discern what she was attempting to communicate. The corporate media reported that the extramarital affair had been uncovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and that it reflected ‘poor judgment’ on the part of the general. Between October 18, when the Commander of Africom was relieved, and November 9, when General Petraeus resigned, there had been a major effort to present information on Benghazi that would influence the outcome of the presidential elections of November 6. In military parlance, this effort of the neo-conservatives to place responsibility for the Benghazi debacle on the White House would have been a military information operation. The very close and intimate relationship between the US media, academia and the military had been refined in the new war fighting template that had been experimented since the passing of the Patriot Act and the integration between the media, high tech companies and robotic unmanned weapons of death, called drones. In this war fighting template, grand failures such as the complete fiasco in Iraq and the massive drug war in Afghanistan had been covered up with journalists and academics serving the interests of one branch of the military. This cover-up has been buttressed by partisan accounts of the role of differing Generals. The most recent book, by Thomas Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, was one representation of the new embrace between the media and sections of the military establishment. In that book, numerous generals were critiqued for their incompetence and lack of vision. Tom Ricks was joining an argument that many of these Generals should have been fired. Of General Petraeus, Tom Ricks was full of praise noting that, Petraeus showed ‘ real independence of thought … he is an adaptive general.’ In that book, Petraeus was one with good judgment while others such as Tommy Franks and General Casey were compared to General William Westmoreland, poster general of failure in Vietnam.

The double speak and web of sex/intrigue/corruption in the military is now blown wide open for the world to see where generals such as John Allen, Commander of the US military in Afghanistan who was supposed to be in the midst of a war, had time and space to send 20-30,000 pages of email to Jill Kelley, the woman in Tampa, Florida, who was seen by. General Petraeus’s mistress as a rival for his attentions. Media hype about ‘inappropriate communication’ with Jill Kelley cannot divert attention from the realities of the current state of warfare and insecurity in Libya where over 50,000 have lost their lives, since NATO intervened with the ’responsibility to protect.’

For the peoples of Libya, the United Nations and the peace community, this unfolding Petraeus scandal is of particular interest because of the close relationships between the oil companies, western intelligence/military agencies and the marauding militias that are now coercing Libyan citizens. The failure of the counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan had now come out in Libya. It is All in. When the information about the attack on the US ‘facility’ in Benghazi was first brought to light, there had been confusion. Was the space that was attacked a ‘consulate,’ a State Department ‘facility, ’a CIA safe house, or indeed a prison for captured militias? This confusion took attention away from the reality that elements in the military had formulated a policy to align with certain militia groups in Eastern Libya and that these militias (sometimes called jihadists) had in the past been linked to groups that the US called ‘terrorist organizations.’ France, the CIA, and the AFRICOM had aligned with these jihadists to destabilize Libya, freeze billions of dollars of assets, execute Gaddafi and kept the alliance going using Libya as a rear base in the current drive for regime-change in Syria.

The Republicans had sought to benefit from the confusion and disinformation that had been spun by the intelligence and the military about what were the real causes of the death of the ambassador in Benghazi. There had been hearings called before the Republican-controlled Congress, the State Department issued statements, the CIA issued a timeline of the events in Benghazi on the night of September 11 and the conservative media sought to politicise the events to present a picture of incompetence on the part of the Obamas Administration. With every press release and timeline that was presented there was information that posed new questions about the rot and web of corruption of the US military. After General David Petraeus resigned, it was reported in the US press that he had travelled to Libya at the end of October to carry out his own investigation (some would say cover-up). No sooner had this information came out than it was revealed that the CIA had been holding Libyan militias as prisoners in the CIA annex in Benghazi. This information, which was delivered by Paula Broadwell in a speech before the University of Denver on October 26, deepened the intrigue about what was going on in Libya.

Petraeus had been the commander of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at a moment in the history of the United States when military information operations were as important as weapons. According to the US military doctrine in this new kind of warfare there had been the struggle to control the narrative. The US military could never control the narrative on Africa because the history of white supremacy and chauvinism precluded a clear understanding of the dynamics of self-determination in Africa. In the ten years of the absolute failures of the US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, this effort to control the narrative had involved a massive disinformation campaign against US citizens. In the specific case of Libya, the corporate media had presented the ‘end of the war’ as a victory for the forces of NATO. The truth was never divulged that there is still fighting going on in Libya with the most recent battles at Bani Walid an explicit statement on the ongoing war.

This ‘successful’ NATO intervention had been sold as the narrative until the death of Ambassador Stevens unfolded the layered nature of the war. Between the removal of General Carter Ham and the resignation of General Petraeus there had been the replacement of Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette as the commander of the USS John C. Stennis strike group. The full back story relating to Petraeus and Libya is still unfolding, but for this week we want to focus on how structures, such as the US Africa command, sought to function in a world as if the Command was a parallel government with its own access to AID resources, financing, health providers, private military contractors, and access to aircraft carrier strike groups such as the John Stennis. This was a military and intelligence integration, independent of the executive that was out of control and establishing policy.

Carter Ham selected by the Crusaders in the US military

When the U.S. Africa Command was launched in October 2007, William E. ‘Kip’ Ward, a United States Army four-star general, served as Commander from October 1, 2007 to March 8, 2011. General Ward, an African American, was demoted to a three-star Lieutenant General, and is now scheduled for retirement. Lt. General William Ward had been quickly removed from AFRICOM after the passing of Resolution 1970 in February 2011 when the NATO top brass and the U.S. intelligence agencies knew of the plot against the people of Libya which was to be routed through AFRICOM. As an African American Ward had developed very close relationships with African generals and politicians, even those who had been publicly opposing the US AFRICOM. Ward had been removed and demoted on the charge that he had spent excessive amounts of money allowing his family members to fly on government planes. Here was an officer who had been flying with his wife and family, disgraced by the army high command at the same moment while General Petraeus was exhibiting ‘poor judgment’ with Paula Broadwell. In November 2012, General William ‘Kip’ Ward was stripped of one of his four stars for misuse of military funds when he was head of the US Africa command. He was also ordered to repay $82,000.

General Carter Ham had been confirmed by the US Senate in November 2010 to become the next Commander of U.S. Africa Command but the revolutionary upsurge in Tunisia and Egypt hastened the emplacement of General Ham and he assumed the post on March 8, 2011. At that moment, the US military had been divided between those who I termed the Rocks and the Crusaders. See ‘US Military and Africom: Between the rocks and the crusaders.’ Pambazuka News, March 31, 2011

In that article I had argued that the new head of the US Africa Command was based on the selection by the Crusaders. The term Crusaders first appeared for a wider audience beyond the peace and social justice forces when Seymour Hersh used the term in an article in Foreign Policy Magazine. Then Seymour Hersh revealed that there was a faction of the US military known as ‘Crusaders, that had taken over the army.’ Hersh asserted that these Crusaders were bent on intensifying a war against Islam, and viewed themselves as protectors of Christianity. According to the article, Hersh maintained that these neoconservative elements dominate the top echelons of the US military, including figures such as former commander of US forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal and Vice Admiral William McRaven. Hersh said, ‘What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over.’

In May 2009, four months after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Harper’s magazine carried a lengthy report that placed General David Petraeus at the heart of the Crusaders. The magazine carried a very detailed article on the role of the Crusaders in the military, entitled, ‘Evangelical Proselytization Still Rampant in U.S. Military.’ In this article we are alerted to the numerous fronts of the Crusaders. The information in the magazine article discussed a book published in 2005 by Lieutenant Colonel William McCoy, titled Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel. According to the article this book outlined an ‘anti-Christian bias’ in the US, and sought to counter it by making the case for the ‘necessity of Christianity for a properly functioning military.’ McCoy’s book was endorsed by General David Petraeus, who said: ‘Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when soldiers need spiritual energy.’

The war in Libya gave the Crusaders the opportunity to destroy a stable society in North Africa and unleashed 1,700 militias in the society. Not only did the Libyan invasion enable the Crusaders an opportunity to create havoc, but it placed great strains within Africa with the fallout from Libya unleashing instability all across northwest Africa. Carter Ham had been handed the responsibility to be the commander in the US Africa Command after Gen. Stanley McChrystal had been sacked. Petraeus was nurturing the media and academics to realize his ambitions and we now know that the arrogance and haughtiness of Petraeus ensured a high tolerance for ideas of European exceptionalism and the innate superiority of US citizens of European descent.

The US Africa Command deepened the strategic concepts of General Petraeus to mobilize ‘dark’ forces to fight wars. This was based on the mobilization of financial resources and personnel outside the formal structures of the US military with the heavy use of the Central Intelligence Agency and Private Military Contractors. Nick Turse has chronicled this new direction in the planning and fighting plan of the military establishment in the book, The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare, (Haymarket Books, 2012). Earlier this year Turse was been involved in a debate with Col Davis of AFRICOM over whether the US military presence was growing very fast in Africa. See ‘Fast-growing U.S. military presence in Africa.’ The debate with director of the U.S. Africa Command Office of Public Affairs, disputing in some detail a number of Turse’s points, illustrated just how sensitive the AFRICOM bureaucracy had become about the new forms of warfare with proxy fighters, special ops and drones. (See basic debate

General Petraeus found the perfect space to set up an alternative military/intelligence policy-making unit when he requested that he be placed as head of the Central Intelligence Agency when he sought to flee the web of drugs and corruption in Afghanistan in 2011. According to the New York Times, Petraeus had blurred the lines between spies and soldiers in secret missions abroad.

‘The appointments of General Petraeus and Mr. Panetta were the latest evidence of a significant shift over the past decade in how the United States fights its battles — the blurring of lines between soldiers and spies in secret American missions abroad. …. General Petraeus aggressively pushed the military deeper into the C.I.A.’s turf, using Special Operations troops and private security contractors to conduct secret intelligence missions. As commander of the United States Central Command in September 2009, he also signed a classified order authorizing American Special Operations troops to collect intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and other places outside of traditional war zones.’ See


It was the alliance of the Crusaders that had ensnared the State Department and the US diplomatic forces in the war in Libya. Ambassador Stevens had become a cheerleader for this cooperation between Special Operations Command and private military contractors. Christopher Stevens had left his position in the embassy in Tripoli in February 2011 to coordinate this kind of warfare in Benghazi. When NATO declared victory in October 2011, Christopher Stevens was selected as ambassador to Libya and by May 2012 he was back in Libya. However, the principal base for the Special Ops and private security intrigue was in Benghazi where the CIA was running a base for the recruitment of ‘extremists’ to fight in Syria. Stevens was caught in a battle between militias and the CIA. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith and CIA agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed in the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11-12. When the news was first reported, Woods and Doherty had been identified as private Security contractors in order to divert attention away from the CIA in the Benghazi battle.

Sean Smith, the information manager of the State Department, was a symbol of the geeks who had been mobilized for the new kind of military posture of the United States. After his passing there was mourning in the wired community. According to the New York Times, ‘Mr. Smith was an avid player of an online multiplayer game called Eve Online, in which hundreds of thousands of participants across the globe took on roles like pirates or diplomats in a science fiction setting. Mr. Smith’s online name was ‘vile rat.’ His experience was indicative of how the US military had mobilized Smith’s experience in both real and virtual worlds. Coded messages were shared in this virtual world to serve the interests of the military intelligence forces that were operating outside of the policy framework of the government.

Sean Smith has been called a maven by his fellow gamers who have been mourning his passing. Drawing from the book by Malcolm Gladwell on The Tipping point, Smith was compared to those mavens or connectors who are ‘information specialists’, or ‘people we rely upon to connect us with new information.’ These mavens or connectors had become crucial for the new forms of warfare where the lines between the virtual war and real wars are blurred. Increasingly, the gamers draw extensively from real situations so that many of the video games are actual simulations of possible battle scenarios. The conservative militarists who conceive the masculinist forms of entertainment only recently brought out Call of Duty: Black Ops II that featured a computer animated David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense.

Sean Smith found out tragically that real war is not a game.

From the books of Bob Woodward we do know that former General Jack Keane (now of the Board of the Institute for the Study of War) is one of the most energetic forces aligned with the Petraeus wing of the military/intelligence establishment. The fact that Jack Keane came forward as the chief explainer for the National Public Radio (NPR), about the CIA timeline of the events in Benghazi (where Sean Smith and Christopher Stevens) died gave away the fact that Petraeus was heavily involved in the events of September 11/12 , 2012.

It was in this interview on November 2 that Jack Keane told the world of the decision of General Carter Ham to ask for the National Mission Response Force to be deployed to Benghazi. The NMRF is a classified force based on the East Coast of the United States, 24/7 on alert, the shortest alert string we have to go anyplace in the world. In this interview Keane told the US public,

‘Now, those were ground forces and there were no other forces that were available and that’s why he had to request forces from outside of AFRICOM’s command and control. General Ham also requested a similar force that is part of the European command that – this is a classified force, special operations again. They were in central Europe training. They moved them to a base, got them equipped for combat and moved them to Sigonella. And when they arrived there, they also were told that the CIA annex had been evacuated. The problem we have is AFRICOM has no assigned forces stationed in anywhere near Libya. So we had to depend – he had to depend on alerting forces to come from the continent of Europe and the continent of North America to participate in a firefight.’

This information on the deployment of forces by the Commander of AFRICOM was veiled but there is enough in the interview to grasp the fact that Carter Ham was drawn into a battle which the US Africa Command was not equipped for. When the Pentagon carried out its investigation about what happened in Benghazi, Carter Ham was relieved of his post as commander of AFRICOM. He had not served the usual three years. General Petraeus journeyed to Libya after Carter Ham was relieved of his post hoping to save his reputation and the forms of warfare and destruction that he had refined.


General Petraeus had been an ambitious officer from the US military who had achieved international notoriety based on how he harnessed the resources of the media to burnish his image. Petraeus was known as an ambitious officer from the time that he was at West Point when he grasped that marrying the daughter of the superintendent of the WestPoint military academy would enhance his career. Holly Knowlton was from a historical military family in the USA whose father Gen. William A. Knowlton had been serving as head of West Point military academy when Petraeus was a cadet. Petraeus graduated in 1974 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. , and two months before his graduation, he married Holly. Petraeus fancied himself as a soldier scholar so he pursued advanced degrees at Princeton writing a doctoral dissertation on ‘The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.’

Petraeus became adept at mobilizing academics, especially social scientists, to abet his ‘ambitions.’ It was the relationship with one such publicist that brought out the full extent of the ambitious maneuvering of General Petraeus. Inside the US military, Petraeus had been known by the traditional officers as one who would do anything to ‘advance’ his career. His close relationship with George W. Bush and the ‘success’ of the surge in Iraq now stands as part of his reputation. Petraeus was a figure of disunity within the military, especially because of his close relationship to the neoconservatives. One retired officer posed the question in this way, ‘Was General David Petraeus the heroic figure his press releases suggested or a piece of fiction created, packaged and presented to the American people by the Bush Administration and its Neocon allies in the media and academia as the poster boy for counterinsurgency? (See Col. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, Ret., The Petraeus Saga: Epitaph for a Four Star,

The full history of General David Petraeus is now in full display but what is not widely known is how he was really a work of fiction created, packaged and promoted to the American people. Most citizens in the United States are not aware of the immense suffering imposed on the peoples of Iraq based on the ‘surge’ of General Petraeus. Inside the military there had been great differences among the officer corps and efforts to understand the experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq led to the publication of the major study entitled Decade of War. The Joint Staff study of the post-9/11 wars had been an effort by the military to understand why the US military had been a failure caught in the quagmire of corruption and drug wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There had been no shortage of scholarly texts that had explored in great detail how the United States corrupted Afghanistan. One writer from the Washington Post was explicit when he wrote, ‘Afghan corruption, and how the U.S. facilitates it,’:

‘It is time that we as Americans — in government, in the media, and as analysts and academics — took a hard look at the causes of corruption in Afghanistan. The fact is that we are at least as much to blame for what has happened as the Afghans, and we have been grindingly slow to either admit our efforts or correct them.’

Other established military specialists such as Anthony Cordesman had written extensively on theft and waste in Afghanistan. It was left to the peace writers such as Alfred McKoy to write on ‘Can Anyone Pacify the World’s Number One Narco-State? The Opium Wars in Afghanistan.’

While the name of Petraeus did not explicitly surface in these reports on drugs and corruption, his high profile as the top commander in Afghanistan and as head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) brought a focus on him. As an adept manipulator of the media in the refinement of Military Information Operations, Petraeus nurtured the press and one of the clearest expression can be found in the new book, by Thomas Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today. In this book, generals such as Tommy Franks were assailed in the same vein as Petraeus was venerated. Petraeus was mobilizing the same fawning relationship with Paula Broadwell. Petraeus had met Broadwell in 2006 while she was operating between US military intelligence and Harvard, but this relationship could not be deepened until after the passing of Gen. William A. Knowlton in 2008.


Petraeus had endeared himself to neocons and the Christian fundamentalists as a good example of the West Point’s Cadet Honor Code. The Honor Code reads simply that, ‘A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.’

Because of his endorsement of Lieutenant Colonel William McCoy’s Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, Petraeus was on the radar of the right. It is not by accident that of the top politicians calling Petraeus at this time was George W. Bush. Bob Woodward in his book Obama’s Wars documented facts of the disrespect exhibited from a section of the military (Crusaders) to Obama. It is important for readers to grasp the deep arrogance of Petraeus in relation to Obama. Much of this has come out in the formulation that Petraeus attempted to ’box in’ the president over the deployment of troops to Afghanistan. Bob Woodward has recounted for history the back and forth between Obama and Petraeus and General Stanley A. McChrystal. Stanly Mc Chrystal had engineered his exit from the corruption of Afghanistan by making explicit comments about Obama which he knew would get him out of the opium war in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama immediately appointed General Petraeus to this position as Commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus understood the stakes of the legacy of generals and it was based on his sense of history that he supported the project of Paula Broadwell to write his biography. Douglas MacGregor described the two in this way, ‘Broadwell and Petraeus were simply two people with converging agendas.’

Between the biography of Broadwell and the book of Thomas Ricks, Petraeus was of the view that his historical legacy was secure. Inside the military there had been a major debate among the officer corps on whether officers such as Petraeus should be held accountable. Lt. Col. Paul Yingling had written a widely discussed article in the Armed Forces Journal, ‘A failure in generalship.’ With the Crusaders taking over the military, officers who followed the line of Petraeus were looked upon favourably.

According to the profile of Petraeus by the New York Times, ‘Mr. Petraeus had been the most prominent American military commander over the past decade, the architect of the 2007 troop surge in Iraq. He stepped into Gen. Colin L. Powell’s shoes as the face of the military, and became a figure extolled on both sides of Washington’s partisan divide.’ The New York Times was fully aware of the divide between the Rocks and the Crusaders and how Obama had relied on Colin Powell to rally the Rocks to checkmate the Crusaders.

We now know that the Obama team was not complacent as the activities of General Petraeus were being monitored. Top operatives in the administration had kept an eye on the presidential ambitions of Petraeus and Petraeus had assured Rahm Emmanuel that he was not planning to run for president in 2012. In the supportive profile of General Petraeus provided by the New York Times we are told,

‘Ms. Broadwell became a fixture around the Kabul headquarters of the American-led coalition in Afghanistan soon after General Petraeus assumed command in June 2010. She was seen as ambitious and as a striver who aimed to join Washington’s national security elite, and she drew resentment from officers for playing up her connection to their boss.’

Six months after General Petraeus assumed command in Kabul and was mentoring his biographer the administration appointed Holly Knowlton Petraeus as an assistant director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, charged with advocating on behalf of service members and their families. History will later reveal the extent of the contacts between Michele Obama and Holly Knowlton at a moment when insiders in Washington understood fully the innuendos of Paula Broadwell when she had appeared on the Daily Show.


Weeks after the battles between the competing militias in Benghazi that claimed the lives of the CIA operations and the US ambassador, sections of the US media sympathetic to the Crusaders ‘seized on a series of reports by conservative media outlets to make the incendiary charge shortly before the election that four Americans had died because of the administration’s negligence.’

General Petraeus said nothing publicly, but from the reports in the media and from his quick trip to Libya, it was manifest that there was a big project of damage limitation. Sections of the Conservative media had been so secure that the narrative of the adminstration’s negligence had taken hold that William Kristol, the conservative editor of The Weekly Standard, concluded that the agency was pointing its finger at the White House, which he suggested must have refused the requested intervention. ‘Petraeus Throws Obama Under the Bus’ was the headline on the Weekly Standard’s blog.

With the timeline of the Benghazi incident presented by the CIA, the blog of William Kristol and the spin presented to National Public Radio by Jack Keane, there was only one more event that would protect General Petraeus from being exposed completely. This was the elections on November 6, 2012.

Benghazi and Libya did not become the issue in the election in the way that the Conservatives and Crusaders had hoped. The alliance of peace and justice forces re-elected Barack Obama on November 6. Two days after the re-election Petraeus resigned.

We are told by the media that the first time the president learnt of the investigation of the relationship between Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus was on Thursday November 8 when Petraeus offered his resignation. How would Eric Cantor know the full details of the Broadwell/Petraeus saga while the President did not know? Press reports are that the Attorney General Eric Holder had been notified as far back as the summer. It defies credibility to read that Barack Obama did not know of the FBI probe of General David Petraeus,

‘White House officials said they were informed on Wednesday night that Mr. Petraeus was considering resigning because of an extramarital affair. On Thursday morning, just before a staff meeting at the White House, President Obama was told. That afternoon, Mr. Petraeus went to see him and informed him that he strongly believed he had to resign. Mr. Obama did not accept his resignation right away, but on Friday, he called Mr. Petraeus and accepted it.’

Military historians will, however, understand why the President of the United States had to sleep on the decision to accept the resignation of the most renowned general in the United States. After all, the influence of Petraeus among journalists and the Crusaders was well known. Petraeus had served as Commanding General of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) located there. As commander of CAC, Petraeus had been responsible for oversight of the Command and General Staff College and 17 other schools, centers, and training programs as well as for developing the Army’s doctrinal manuals, training the Army’s officers, and supervising the Army’s center for the collection and dissemination of lessons learned.

‘During his time at CAC, Petraeus and Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis jointly oversaw the publication of Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency, the body of which was written by an extraordinarily diverse group of military officers, academics, human rights advocates, and journalists who had been assembled by Petraeus and Mattis.’

This writer will maintain the healthy skepticism that Obama’s decision to withhold the acceptance of the resignation of Petraeus was based on the calculated step by step approach with the military that had been adopted since 2009. This writer will also withhold judgement on the recent effusive praise of Obama for Petraeus at his press conference on November 14,2012.

There were many serving Generals who were linked militarily and socially to General Petraeus and the fallout of the web of Petraeus is now becoming more known. The information that the top commander in Afghanistan, John Allen, had ‘inappropriate communication’ with Jill Kelly, with 20-30,000 pages of email has only served to entice citizens in relation to the unfolding story. What is of importance is that John Allen followed the military doctrines of Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even more significantly, is the fact that Allen was a supporter of the new Counterinsurgency form of destabilization that involved private military contractors.


The Petraeus affair has served to focus on the salacious details of the extra-marital affair of General Petraeus overlooking the more fundamental question of the forms of military destruction that have been unleashed on Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. Within the US military establishment there had been a raging debate on whether generals should be accountable to civilian leadership. The resignation of General Petraeus, the removal of Carter Ham of Africa Command and the redeployment of Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette have now brought back the question of civilian control over the military. Despite the new book by Tom Ricks that had been crafted to save the reputation of Petraeus and the biography which was supposed to place Petraeus on the same platform as historic US generals, the new forms of unchecked warfare brought down the top officers of the COIN strategy of Petraeus and the Crusaders.

Within a democratic society, the military is supposed to provide advice to military leaders and military officers are not supposed to deploy troops to engage with militias without the authorization of the civilian leadership. The NATO intervention in Libya and the subsequent CIA base in Benghazi had been an expensive experiment in new forms of warfare that brought about destruction and the deaths of thousands. After the information on CIA detention centers during the war in Iraq there had been an outcry about CIA private prisons. There are citizens in Libya who can come forward to get out the truth about the charges of Paula Broadwell that the CIA was holding prisoners in its ‘facility’ in Libya.

US foreign policy makers had resisted the call by sections of the United Nations Security Council for a review of the NATO military operations in Libya. Through the United Nations Human Rights Council there has been a major effort by peace activists from the global south to bring private military contractors under international oversight. The Human Rights Council has established an ‘open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.’

The United States and Britain took the lead in opposing oversight of private military contractors. Commanders of CENTCOM and AFRICOM have operated over the past five years as if they were running parallel government. The war on terror had inspired the intellectual climate on counter-terror and the rationale for the bureaucratic structure of the unified command which enabled the military to also be a source of ‘independent’ policy creation.

There was no oversight when the military budget placed unlimited resources under the control of military commanders. Why would the US AFRICOM dig wells in East Africa or hand out school books? These activities were all part of the public relations exercise to plant the idea that the US Africa Command was doing humanitarian work in Africa. The confirmation hearings for General Rodriquez will provide another opportunity to expose the CIA/Africom failure in Libya. It is well publicized by African scholars that the US Africa command has been deployed as an auxiliary force to protect US oil companies. In this protection game, there had been some sections of the top military apparatus who ventured to state explicitly that the role of Africom was supposed to check Chinese influence in Africa. General Petraeus had aggressively pushed the military deeper into the C.I.A.’s turf, using Special Operations troops and private security contractors to conduct secret intelligence missions and for fighting. As commander of the United States Central Command Petraeus had refined the trick of fighting with one group and then turning against them later. This double-cross game was taking hold in Libya in order to set back peace and reconstruction in Libya for decades so that Libya would morph into another Somalia.

With the millions of dollars available for suborning journalists and academics and with the complicit media, the narrative about the success of AFRICOM had been widely sold within the United States. It is this attempt to control the narrative that had led to the widespread view in the United States that the NATO operation in Libya was a success. The death of Ambassador Stevens shattered this myth. The firing of Carter Ham uncovered the ways in which the CIA and sections of the military were making decisions running policy independent of the civilian leadership.

When one connects the financial dots between CIA front companies such as IN –Q-Tel, oil companies and oil producers, one can see that global capital is also a partner with the military industrial complex and the need for perpetual war on terrorism. That is the circle which must be broken by those who seek peace.

Petraeus and his supporters had been confident that the circle of war and destruction would continue for generations. With the support of the media Petraeus had been confident that the full details of the destruction in Libya and alliance with the militias could be kept out of the public domain. The full story is unfolding. The peace and justice forces must intensify the call for the disbandment of the US Africa Command. Africa needs cooperation and support for reconstruction. Libya needs the support of the entire international community to rein in the militias and to rebuild the society. It is time for the peace movement to refocus on the real activities of Petraeus, not on the so called extramarital affair. In fact, some commentators in Europe have commented that in Europe some generals place such information on the gossip circuit to enhance their reputation. The peace and justice forces need to focus on the interconnections between the departure of Petraeus, Carter Ham and Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette.

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is also a Special invited Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya’.

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