20 November 2012


by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 20 November 2012

"I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating." Sophocles

The collective of people who know the absolute truth as to why David Petraeus resigned as Director, CIA the Friday after the reelection of President Obama is surely small. But it was Petraeus, a retired Army four-star general, who publicly confessed to an extramarital affair and cited same as reason for his departure. Good enough.

Since, the rally around the Petraeus flagpole is dumbfounding; not for support of the man but for absurdity of questioning argument - 'His service to country is over because of an affair?'

So-called professionals of journalism and other akin "experts" - deep thinkers all but lacking military service - who've covered and studied Petraeus opine in disbelief that admission to an affair was his end. They are bewildered. Their bewilderment bewilders.

They (names withheld to protect the ignorant) have called him "America's Napoleon" and referred to him as "brilliant" and so on - lofted atop pedestal no man merits.   

The end of Petraeus is not complicated. And everybody - regardless of rank held and duration of service - who has selflessly worn, and continues to wear, a military uniform of the United States knows it. Retired flag officers (admirals and generals) have been particularly quiet. And there is good reason. Because regardless of circumstances and however the act committed, David Petraeus fell on his sword. There was nothing glorious about it. And they know it.

Simply, an extramarital affair is a serious breach of expected personal conduct. It destroys trust - in the betrayed spouse and family. And it destroys trust and faith and confidence in uniformed subordinates, peers, and seniors. That's the military culture. And so it must be for good order and discipline, and military efficiency and effectiveness, too. 

The known standard of behavior applies to all - from private to general and seaman to admiral. And so must accountability - by individual and institution - likewise apply to all. Promotion to flag officer is not entitlement to exemption to the rules but confidence in that officer's ability to exemplify the rules. It's called leadership.

Casually comparing and dismissing a senior flag officer's sexual misconduct to that of philandering presidents and other famous notables is nonsense and irrelevant. It doesn't matter if the officer is retired from active duty and serving in some high-level position serving our country.

If this is not true then the commander-in-chief must immediately issue new guidance to the Secretary of Defense ordering that the sexual misbehavior, with emphasis on adultery, of men and women in uniform does not matter. And the Secretary, in-turn, so order all directives, orders, and policies rewritten to reflect same.

Saving a busy Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps action officer the trouble of crafting our commandant's compliance in an ALMAR (All Marines) pending change to all other paper, draft follows: 

1. Marines, our Core Values - Honor. Courage. Commitment. - were never intended to be anything more than a clever recruiting tool and slogan for posters and bumper stickers.

2. Please accept my sincere apologies for any confusion established and enforced by my predecessors. Carry on. 

3. Semper Fidelis. Commandant sends.

I'd like to believe that ALMAR will never, ever be. But shall it ever and before published, I hope the commandant will have the professional courtesy to: 1) send all retirees - for that matter, any man or woman still living who has earned the title "Marine" and the privilege to wear the eagle, globe, and anchor - a letter announcing the change; and 2) expunge the service records of all Marines punished for committing adultery.

Branch of service notwithstanding, the men and women in uniform - past and present - are watching. They deserve the best. And so does the future. 

Leadership is setting the example, according to the rules and arguably more so, in all things said and done. There's no true 'followership' without true leadership. And there's no leadership if no one is following.

And it's as simple as that.

Civilians can do as they please. They always have and always will. But using that ever-deteriorating carefree standard of living as benchmark, a flawed one, to defend Petraeus reflects ignorance and is out of line.  

Somewhere along that proverbial line, David Petraeus, for whatever his talents and skills, lost humility. And that was the death of him. Those in support, dismissing his serious misconduct, have lost their minds.  

In summary,

Our military's mission is not a game. The business of national security and defense is deadly serious. During final edit of this comment notification of the combat death of Marine Lance Corporal Dale W. Means, 23 years old, from Jordan, Minnesota - killed November 18th - arrived in my inbox. Imagine the grieving family. And the expectations of the leadership of their son. He made the ultimate sacrifice, as did family. Thursday will be a tough Thanksgiving.

A different, a higher, standard of behavior - some of which stress tests human nature - is a core requirement for all in uniform. So it must be. And the vast majority in uniform understand and willingly comply with those standards - standards that cannot, must not, be compromised to accommodate nor excuse deviants. Yes, some will stumble. Yes, some will fall. But the force will continue to march. Onward.   

And to keep our honor clean. Let's.

Post Script 

Today's title, appropriately, is the 6th line in the first stanza of the Marines' Hymn.

Author's Endnote ***** Important *****

Yesterday's comment was a plea for help, a plea for engagement by the readership and public-at-large. That is, to relay the commentary via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc., to any and everyone, and they do likewise, with hopes someone will see and come forward to help the New Jersey State Police arrest a killer(s) - whomever, last week, murdered (stabbed) my wife's step mother - elderly, petite, defenseless, and in her own home. Thursday will be a tough Thanksgiving for this family, too.   

Someone knows something and perhaps through the exponential power of the Internet we reach that someone. Link provided. Please, endure a few moments of inconvenience, and pass along and ask recipients to do likewise. To paraphrase a wise old general I once worked for, 'Somewhere amidst that big pile, there's a pony.' Thank you!

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