As the media stays fixated on the Petraeus love affair, it is more worrisome to look at what has happened to our Middle East strategy in the last few months:
- Sept 11, 2012 – Death of US Ambassador Stevens in Libya. Steven’s was recognized for his skill at persuading regional factions to support secular government.
- Set 22, 2012 – Turkey sentences several generals to prison and diminish roles of several others, removing the “Protectors” of Turkey’s fragile secular government, thus weaking Turkey’s alignment with US forces.
- Oct 2012 – African Command General Ham’s role is changed to rotate him out of overseeing US African Forces (Libya, Egypt, etc)
- Oct 31, 2012 – Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette removed from command of Middle East aircraft carrier group for “Inappropriate leadership Judgment”, what ever that is.
- Nov 7, 2012 – CIA Director Petreaus resigns over sex scandal
- Nov 13, 2012 – ISAF Command General Allen embroiled in Petreaus scandal In a manner likely to lead to end of his career.
It is unclear any of these items are related. However, the net effect of all of these changes is instability in US security policy in the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Its important to note, that Al Qaeda sometime ago articulated its long term term strategic plan for the Middle East, which essentially sought further regional instability in anticipation of weakening US power. It sought to leverage this weakness into regional conflict (Syria, Egypt, Libya) that could ultimately lead to a Pan Arabic theocracy.
As part of its long term plan for a regional theocracy (Caliphate), it seems reasonable for Al Qaeda and its supporters to further weaken US military leadership. Its perfectly reasonable to think Al Qaeda and other nation states are running intelligence operations against US officials. Any intelligence officer knows that somewhere between 30%-60% of people cheat on their spouse. They also know everyone uses Gmail, and US officials using Gmail have been hacked. American media loves a scandal, so its easy to take out someone in leadership with a story about sex. So, if a foreign intelligence officer monitored the habits of 3 key officials, statistics says 1 or 2 of those officials will be cheating on their spouse. If you monitor enough officials email and activities, you will find a suitable patsy somewhere along the way. In this case it happens to be General Allen and Petraeus. It could have just as easily been the Joint Chiefs or Panetta. China, Israel, India and perhaps Russia have the skills required to hack Gmail and track government officials on a large scale. China and India need a lot of oil to keep growing. China would be more than happy to use oil from a new Middle East theocracy. Al Qaeda, through friends, can get to our Gmail.
With a less engaged United States, disruptive forces in the region see opportunities to threaten weak regional governments with various forms of instability driven by religious radicals. Saudi and other established governments tend to ameliorate these forces, tolerating their existence to a point. US support in the past has given Saudi, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, and other leaders the needed strength to maintain balance.
Al Qaeda generally believes that the US does not have staying power or long term willpower to lose more troops in the Middle East. Between 9/11 and the subsequent wars, the US is not looking for more conflict. Current US leadership is less engaged in controlling the Middle East outcome. Which brings us to Iran. Some people feel its silly to worry about Iran and a nuclear bomb. If they used the bomb, Iran would be destroyed in an instant. We quickly forget the value of a nuclear bomb is not using it, it’s the geopolitical benefit of fearing its use.
Assuming more regional instability, as soon as Iran has enough nuclear material or the bomb they could simply say to weak governments in the region “We will protect any Islamic nation in the region against western aggression if you support a theocracy.” Some will capitulate immediately (Egypt, Syria). While others will do it slowly (Saudi, UAE). But they all will capitulate because of the power of radical groups in each one of these nations.
However you get there, it makes one think Petraeus and others might be on the receiving end of an intelligence operation. Frankly the threating letters to Ms. Kelly could easily be the product of a foreign intelligence service. Petraeus and Broadwell have no credibility to claim otherwise. China has more than enough interests to help Al Qaeda in the Middle East. The continued leaks about the sex case/investigation seems designed to further damage Petraeus’s credibility. Legally, the FBI can not leak this information. It would be very revealing to know who and why this data is being leaked.
My analysis is likely not correct. But its ignorant, given the pattern, to assume this is just a story about a horny general. Al Qaeda has articulated a clear and consistent long term strategy. Its timing and key elements are falling in place as planned. We should worry a bit more.