How Awesome Is “Awesome”? By Andrew Bacevich

The military loses wars. Nobody is held to account. The military’s budget keeps increasing. Nothing ever changes. From Andrew Bacevich at

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is an old American adage. Venerable, time-tested, and seemingly true, though here’s an exception: retired general, disgraced former CIA chief, and leaker of classified information, David Petraeus.

For years, I’ve presented the retired general with an opportunity for that rarest of opportunities, a noon nosh out for nothing. More than five years ago, I offered to take “King David” to lunch at New York City’s tony Four Seasons. That posh restaurant — a Manhattan mainstay for 60 years — is now long gone, but my appetite for that meal remains. Earlier this month, I renewed my offer to take him to lunch. An intermediary replied: “Hi, Nick — Appreciate your interest, but he respectfully declines.”

Petraeus is in a rare position. Leakers of government secrets often end up eating their lunch in a prison mess hall. After former CIA agent John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by disclosing the name of a covert CIA officer to a freelance reporter, he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. After Stephen Kim, a former State Department official, merely discussed a classified report about North Korea with a Fox News reporter and pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, he was handed a 13-month prison sentence.

Petraeus, on the other hand, leaked hundreds of secret documents to his then-lover, yet pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor and served no jail time, allowing him, as the New York Times put it, “to focus on his lucrative post-government career.” More specifically, he became a partner at New York private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR), where he also serves as the chairman of the KKR Global Institute. There, he’s overseen “the institute’s thought leadership platform focused on geopolitical and macro-economic trends, as well as environmental, social, and governance issues.” He also serves on the board of directors of Optiv (“a market-leading provider of end-to-end cyber security solutions”) and of OneStream (“which supports a cloud-based platform that helps companies close their books accurately and do planning, budgeting, forecasting, and analysis”), while acting as “a venture investor in some 20 startups.” And when he’s not engaged in “thought leadership” or venture investing, Petraeus takes time out to pontificate on national security issues, like praising the U.S. armed forces, while pressing for the endless military occupation of, and lamenting the end of, the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

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