When religion and ethics trump life and privacy
Would someone please help me and the French understand what the fuss over Gen David Petraeus is all about? Why did he have to become a human sacrifice to the American ideal of the family? Days after he resigned from the CIA, a contrarian voice on CNN was wondering aloud if the US has lost the services of a fine officer. But it was a lonely voice drowned out by the tidal wave of moral outrage. It was as if the very foundations of US security had been shaken.
In fact, the story of Petraeus' security breach is as empty as the fairy tale about Saddam's WMDs. All that he can be accused of is having an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, a matter which is of interest to their families and no one else. The FBI has no evidence that this private indiscretion resulted in any disclosure of professional secrets. But so what? America's obsession with family values has been shaken.
Can you imagine someone without a spouse and children being elected US president? Not in our lifetime. Family is serious business and while Petraeus has not compromised national security, he has made every American feel insecure. And so he must recede into the sunset.
This is how it goes every time the US or the UK suffers a moral paroxysm over infidelity in high places. The French want to know what the excitement is all about. The Indians don't understand either, since we have very little interest in reporting on the private lives of the political leadership, but we play along sportingly.
The news story behind the moral fable of Petraeus is that the internet knows what you're doing and will freely reveal it — even if you run the CIA. Google's transparency report, published shortly after Petraeus' downfall, recorded hikes in takedown requests ranging from 46 per cent in the US and 98 per cent in the UK to a whopping 1,013 per cent in Turkey, reflecting growing governmental interest in what the world is saying. In short, there is no such thing as online privacy any more. The ethics of the internet has collapsed.