The risk of uttering a scintilla of truth: Gen. Allen fires Maj. Gen. Fuller in Afghanistan

The top American commander in Afghanistan fired one of his senior officers Friday for comments made about Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

At a conference in the U.S., Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, faced with a question about Karzai’s recent statement that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war with the United States, responded to Politico as follows,

“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 also referred to Karzai as “erratic”.
–See “U.S. general is fired for Karzai comments.” Washington Post, Nov. 4, 2011

For the Politico interview, see Tim Mak, “U.S. general: Afghan leaders ‘isolated from reality'”, Politico, November 3, 2011.

Under current Marine discipline in Afghanistan, the slightest statement reflecting a kernel of truth now appears to be a firing offense. One can imagine the answer Gen. Allen might have given to the question. The following statement regarding Maj. Gen. Fuller’s dismissal offers a clue:

“These unfortunate comments are neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan,” said Marine Gen. John R. Allen, who oversees U.S. and NATO forces in the country. “The Afghan people are an honorable people, and comments such as these will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission — bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan,” he added.

–Joshua Partlow and Greg Jaffe, “U.S. general fired for criticizing Hamid Karzai,” Washington Post, November 5, 2011

The idea is simple: stricter thought control among the U.S. officer corps, and lockstep unity pushing the party line when speaking to the press.

At last the United States seems to have hit on a decisive strategy for defeating the Taliban!

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"The Trenchant Observer" is an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas, and who has also been a visiting professor at the University of Costa Rica Law Faculty in San José. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, the Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.) from Stanford University, and a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) in International Law from Harvard University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, the Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.