Petraeus scandal may pull covers off the effects of war

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Fresh off his re-election, President Obama will be holding a press conference later today. Presumably he’ll want to talk about his looming battle with Congress over avoiding the fiscal cliff. But the first questions the White House press will almost certainly ask will concern the sex scandal involving his top CIA and military brass.

The story, which has brought down CIA Director David Petraeus and ensnared General John Allen, has gone from salacious to stupid. In an age of Orwellian surveillance, how could the head of the US intelligence agency know so little about the internet and privacy? And how could he not know that his affair with Paula Broadwell would end badly?

But maybe the Petraeus scandal will eventually lead to a much more important discussion about the war and its impact. While there was plenty of talk about military spending, the 11-year war in Afghanistan received only brief mentions during the 2012 presidential campaign. Support for the war is almost non-existent, with the possible exception of Senator John McCain. And it’s clear that US involvement in the region is not going well.

If nothing else, the public is watching someone with celebrity status cope with personal problems that can stem from years of multiple deployments. Thousands of men and women have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious physical, emotional, and financial problems. Their marriages and family relationships have undoubtedly suffered, too.

Where’s the attention for them?

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