One of America’s top generals in Afghanistan was fired
last Friday for making “inappropriate public remarks.”
Major General Peter Fuller’s career-destroying offense
was to publicly criticize Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for saying during
an October 22nd interview with Pakistani news media that that if the
U.S. and Pakistan got into a war, he and Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in
fighting against the United States. The general’s critical comments were made
during an interview Thursday with the left-leaning news website
“Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle?
You’ve got to be kidding me. … I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion, and
now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care?’ ” Fuller
General Fuller also referred to Karzai’s being
“erratic,” expressed hope that Afghanistan’s next leader will be more
“articulate,” said he thought Afghan government leaders are “isolated from
reality” in their expectations of what America should expend in that country,
and said those Afghan leaders “don’t appreciate” the sacrifice that the United
States is making in “blood and treasure” for the people of their
The general could have — but didn’t — mention that
Karzai is forever demanding apologies from us; that he has referred to the U.S.
and other foreign soldiers protecting him and his country as “occupiers;” that
he has publicly threatened to join the Taliban; that he now and then demands our
“immediate” withdrawal; that his is a highly corrupt operation; that he is
scheming to dismantle his country’s constitution to perpetuate himself in power;
that when an October 29th Taliban suicide bombing attack against a
NATO bus in Kabul resulted in the deaths of some thirteen persons, most of them
Americans, Karzai again insulted us by expressed condolences only for the four
who were Afghans; and that it took our leaning on him to extract belated
inclusion of the Americans and others.
The elite media is treating as a fairly big story
General Fuller’s being fired for saying what he said in public. Fair enough.
But what the elite media have been missing and continue to miss — and likely
will keep right on missing — is the bigger story of the bigger picture
Everything General Fuller said that got him fired is
true and needs to be understood by the public and by the media. Bear in mind
that General Fuller, a man who has served our country as a U.S. Army officer for
more than 30 years, was the deputy commander charged with turning Afghan’s
military into an effective fighting force. Knowing this, there is something
lacking in anyone’s sense of patriotism who does not understand and share the
general’s annoyance and frustration about Karzai’s revealing that he would have
no qualms about ordering Afghan soldiers trained by Americans to fight and kill
And yet…it is not the place of General
Fuller to presume without authorization to make and conduct U.S. foreign policy.
Clearly he crossed the line. Thus, it is beside the point and matters not one
bit that what he said in public is true and very likely echoes what the superior
officer who fired him and just about every other American military official in
Afghanistan says in private.
We can expect that most of the debate about the firing
of General Fuller will center on the point just made and answered. Big
The firing of General Fuller raises a much larger
unanswered question, the question that should have been raised and discussed in
the media all along from the very moment that Hamid Karzai publicly made his
inappropriate, insulting remarks at which General Fuller and every other clear
thinking American rightly takes great offense: what should U.S. leaders say and
do when a foreign leader who owes his country’s freedom, and perhaps even his
own life, to American goodness acts towards America as one would act towards an
This bigger question remains unanswered in the public
mind — because the media does not discuss it, does not bother to put the
question to those who should be made to answer it.
What did the president of the United States say or do
about Karzai’s volunteering a promise to fight against us? No one seems to have
any idea. A good guess is that Barack Obama either went golfing or went
fundraising, but that’s only a guess. Did Obama issue a statement expressing
his displeasure and calling upon Karzai to apologize and retract? No. Did the
media ask him why not? No.
What did the Obama administration’s secretary of state
say or do? Hillary Clinton says she promptly called the U.S. ambassador to
Afghanistan and asked him to “go in and figure out what it means,” “it” being
these words uttered by Karzai on Pakistani media: “If fighting starts between
Pakistan and the U.S., we are beside Pakistan.”
Now, most people would take Karzai’s statement as
unequivocally declaring which side he would take in a war between America and
Pakistan — and that it would be against us. Pakistan’s double-dealing
government understood it — and loved it.
But when the president of the United States is so
weak, apparently his secretary of state felt that the best course was to try to
protect him from embarrassing himself yet another time. So Secretary Clinton
covered for Karzai, claiming that his remarks were “taken out of context and
misunderstood.” She gets it that what nowadays passes for journalism is not
likely to run interference against a Democratic administration’s attempt to
hoodwink the American people.
What never got properly reported — because the media
never pressed the matter — is that the Obama State Department contends that
Karzai was merely making the observation that Afghanistan and Pakistan are
nextdoor neighbors, and thus, anyone fleeing Pakistan during a war with the U.S.
would not have to travel far to find welcome refuge. This is not a joke. This
is Obama administration foreign policy in action. Try to imagine how the media
would have played this had Condoleezza Rice resorted to such a cockamamie claim
to spare George W. Bush from having to act in the face of such an affront to
Did Karzai ever issue a clarification explaining just
why it is a “misunderstanding” to think he said what he said, that he would side
with Pakistan against us in a war? No. Did the U.S. government demand it of
him? No. Why don’t the U.S. media ask? Can’t they figure how to track down
the ambassador of Afghanistan in Washington? Do you think the Pakistanis
believe that Karzai didn’t mean it when he said he’d side with them against us?
Shouldn’t the elite media ask?
When NATO and American commander in Afghanistan, Gen.
explained that he was firing General Peter Fuller because of “inappropriate
public comments,” he may not have caught the irony. General Fuller’s
“inappropriate public comments” were a reaction to Karzai’s wildly
“inappropriate public comments” that insulted our country and are an affront to
any and every American who has aided the people of
General Allen also used the word “unfortunate” in his
statement announcing the firing of General Fuller. It is indeed unfortunate for
us all that it was General Fuller rather than President Obama who took Hamid
Karzai to task for insulting America.
A president worthy of respect would have been man
enough to take Karzai to task himself and not permit this sad spectacle of a
long-serving soldier ruining his career for defending American honor when the
president should have but didn’t.
Barack Obama should have picked up the phone and told
Hamid Karzai something like this: “I am alerting you that your life is
suddenly in much greater danger and I urge you to take prompt action to lessen
this increased danger. I expect you to appear on television and radio at the
earliest possible opportunity and announce to the world that not only would you
never side against America in a war but, rather, you would stand with us. Until
you have done this, I have ordered the complete withholding of all personal
safety protection provided by US military that you, your family and your
colleagues have relied upon to keep you alive. The other affected parties are
being informed of this in private. As soon as I learn that you have taken this
step necessary to correct your insult to my country I will restore protection –
but not one moment sooner. If you do not act swiftly, I shall begin working on
drafting eulogy remarks. Have a nice day.”
I wonder — don’t you? — which, if any, of the
Republican candidates for president would handle things in such a firm and
highly persuasive manner.
Don’t you wish that someone in the media — hey, it
could certainly be one of the conservative outlets — would approach Barack
Obama or at least his press secretary plus each of the Republican presidential
contenders, point to the firing of General Fuller, and then raise the big
question this whole issue needs discussed and answered?
What should U.S. leaders say and do when a foreign
leader who owes his country’s freedom and perhaps even his own life to American
goodness acts towards America as one would act towards an
It would be foolish of the media and the rest of us to
now only focus on whether General Fuller should have taken it upon himself to be
the one to publicly confront Harmed Karzai over his reprehensible insult to
America (already asked and answered).
It’s time to demand that the current president of the
United States and anyone who might be president come 20 January 2013 be asked –
and forced to answer — how they would deal with such an affront to American
Fred J. Eckert is a former
conservative Republican congressman from New York and twice served as a U.S.
ambassador (to the U.N. and to Fiji) under President Reagan, who called him “a
good friend and valuable advisor.” He’s retired and lives with his wife in