Received opinion has presented General Petraeus as a soldier of superior intelligence, capable of thinking for himself. The Daily Telegraph has just published an article by him against Brexit, the shorthand term for the proposed exit of Britain from the European Union. It is a masterpiece of misrepresentation, wish fulfillment, ignorance, special pleading, and all-in boilerplate prose, too.
Brexit, the general writes, “would deal a significant blow to the EU’s strength and resilience at exactly the moment when the West is under attack.” He repeats in another sentence that the EU is “one of the most important institutions that undergirds Western strength.” This is merely emotive. What strength? What resilience? Having chosen long since to prefer welfare to defense, the EU is a guarantee of collective feebleness. What undergirding when there isn’t an army or a navy or a common language or any wish to fight, never mind die, at the behest of unknowns giving orders in Brussels?
British influence, this article further says, deepens “military, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation.” As things stand, cooperation in these spheres is indistinguishable from bureaucratic incompetence — just look how the French, Belgians, and Dutch have messed up in the face of recent terror — and British influence is diminishing to the point of invisibility. British anti-terrorism is effective, and to suppose that Brexit would put a stop to sharing intelligence is to sneer at other anti-terrorist forces.
European countries operate well at the level of governments but hopelessly badly at the supranational level of the EU. Moreover, the EU’s sole applicable ideology is anti-Americanism, and Petraeus is obliviously helping to raise a would-be great-power rival to his own country. Successive presidents down to Barack Obama, as well as the good and the great in Washington, are on record promoting the EU, but how come a general of supposedly superior intelligence is of their number?