Col. Bacevich: Middle East Instability Will Continue to Intensify

Friday, 16 Nov 2012 09:21 AM

By Bill Hoffmann and Kathleen Walter

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The bloody attack north of the Gaza Strip in which a Hamas rocket killed three Israelis early Thursday reveals an instability in the Middle East that will only continue to intensify, a top former United States Army colonel says.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be an all-out war, but the signs certainly indicate that we are going to have further escalation,’’ retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

“I think one of the really interesting things here is that as the preoccupation with the Iranian nuclear program grew over the period of months, the whole question of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank – the peace process – pretty much had disappeared.

“Well, that question has not returned with a vengeance. It’s an ominous development – it’s an indication of ever increasing instability in that part of the world.’’

Bacevich — author of the New York Times’ bestsellers “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War” and “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism’’ — said other border conflicts are just as turbulent.

“I’m just as concerned about the border between Syria and Turkey, for example, where we have massive refugee flows, where we have firing back and forth,’’ he said.

“I am as worried about that border as I am worried about; let’s say the Gaza-Israeli dust-up in terms of something going on that could lead to unintended and dangerous consequences.’’

Turning to the scandal swirling around David Petraeus, Bacevich believes the decorated general resigned as head of the CIA out of “shame from his adulterous affair with Paula Broadwell and was not pushed out by his superiors as some believe.

“At the present moment, I’m taking Petraeus at his word and I understand his word to be that he chose to resign out of a sense of shame over this personal misconduct,’’ he said.

“When he went to see his boss, the director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General [James] Clapper, apparently, Clapper recommended that he resign but I don’t think Clapper has the authority to fire the director of the CIA.’’

Bacevich said an extramarital affair should not necessarily have to end a military career.

“I am not in favor of adultery. Adultery constitutes the worst sort of betrayal. But I don’t think, necessarily, that adulterers are, by definition, not qualified to serve in positions of importance in the United States government,’’ he said.

“Were that to be the case then the available candidates for high office would be thinned out appreciably.’’

Bacevich believes that repeated, lengthy deployments of military men and women can easily lead to marital discord.

“There’s plenty of data to support that is in fact the case. And how could it not be the case? There may be some marriages that benefit from prolonged separation but I would be very hard-pressed to think that there are very many,’’ he said.

“So, yeah, we’ve damaged marriages as a consequence of that. We’ve damaged families as a consequence of that. We’ve got children that have been hurt and that is all part of this larger cost of the wars.’’

But he disagrees there is a crisis of ethics among the military’s top brass.
“This is not the first time in recent history that we’ve had a plethora of incidents where senior officers have behaved stupidly. It happens every few years and when it happens, this question of officer ethics comes up,’’ Bacevich said.

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