By Matthew Rothschild on November 09, 2012

I have no sympathy for David Petraeus.

Cheating on your wife of 37 years is a low thing to do, period.

And intelligence officials are supposed to steer clear of such dalliances for fear of blackmail or revealing confidential information.

So he didn’t really have a leg to stand on.

But beyond all the personal stuff, Petraeus always gave me the creeps.

He had that lean and hungry look. He himself was known to scorn the President’s decisions, and he flirted with running for the job himself.

I always thought it was a mistake for President Obama to appoint him to head the CIA because I never trusted the guy. Also, it’s not a great idea to hire someone who is almost impossible to fire. And that’s who Petraeus was, until his personal foibles got the best of him. He had a constituency all his own; the Republicans (and many Democrats) loved him in Congress.

He brought us the surge in Iraq, and he oversaw the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which he has fronted for both at the Pentagon and Langley, asserting without factual basis that we’ve been making “fragile progress.”

The CIA also continued, under his direction, to hold and interrogate prisoners at Bagram Air Base with no due process rights whatsoever.

Petraeus was also in charge at the CIA when there was a coup in Honduras. Though President Obama condemned it, the CIA and the State Department worked behind the scenes with the junta.

And he’s been preparing the battlefield for war against Iran since as far back as 2008.

So, no, I’m not going to miss David Petraeus.

And I would hope that President Obama would search for a replacement who is not a Langley lifer or Pentagon gargoyle but someone more independent and someone who won’t countenance the CIA’s involvement in torture or in the overthrow of foreign governments.

President Obama has an opening here. He should use it to demonstrate that he didn’t get elected to maintain the status quo but to improve the world.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Sandy: Chronicle of a Storm Foretold."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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