Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where You Sit ...

The old saw in bureaucratic politics is "where you stand depends on where you sit."  That is, your positions you take on various issues depends on your interests as defined by where you sit in the bureaucracy.  Well, this piece at gives this an entirely different meaning.  It is a pretty sharp attack on Petraeus and Broadwell for what their relationship did to those outside of their friends and families. 

It may or may not be fair to say that Broadwell got far higher than her qualities should have allowed--what expertise did she really have?  I don't know since I don't know her.  But there is a very revealing bit in the piece: that Broadwell did not seem to care about the effects of her presence on Petraeus's helicopter rides around Afghanistan.  If one studies the NATO mission to Afghanistan, one thing becomes quite clear--that countries did not deploy enough helicopters to Afghanistan  The seats on each helicopter are quite finite, so if you are taking a seat on one, you are very much preventing someone else from occupying that seat.  But Broadwell did not seem to be aware:
In Kabul, for example, Broadwell went along on so many "battlefield circulations" -- Petraeus's trips to visit subordinate commands aboard helicopters where seats were scarce -- that one staff member asked her if she could stay behind just occasionally, to leave room for officers who were actually working the issues to be discussed. "The general wants me along," the officer told me she replied.
In December 2007, I was part of a group of academics (opinion-leaders we were called--oh my) that went to Kabul and Kandahar.  We flew into Kandahar from Dubai (we can say it now that Dubai kicked out the Canadians from their supposedly secret Camp Mirage) and then were going to fly to Kabul for the first part of the trip.  Our plane was full (including a bunch of NATO folks out of uniform unless uniform meant beards--special ops folks), and an American office was telling the Afghan general or colonel he was mentoring he would have to leave behind some of his staff.  Yes, we were squeezing out some of the Afghans NATO was working with.  I felt bad about this, that it said something about the mission, but then I got on the plane for Kabul. 

It was a finite opportunity for me--I felt bad but went ahead.  Broadwell seems not to have cared at all.  Maybe that is being unfair, but Petraeus seemed not to care as he knew damn well how limited the helo seats were, and that the more his officers saw of the country, the better the advice he would receive.  But somehow having one's hagiographer on board was of greater priority.  Lovely.

Plus this all makes any assertion that the affair only happened after he returned stateside to be an utter croc of poo pond.

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