Why David Petraeus Wants You To Shut Up About Islamism

The Federalist has published an investigative report examining the career incentives behind retired General David Petraeus’ recent efforts to suppress criticism of Islam and Muslims. Some excerpts are below:

Why David Petraeus Wants You To Shut Up About Islamism

Why corporate interests would want to limit speech on Islamist threats.

by Christine Brim

On May 13, the Washington Post published an online op-ed by former CIA director and CENTCOM commander David Petraeus, titled “Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists.” The op-ed was noteworthy chiefly for Petraeus’ use of rhetorical clichés more commonly expected from the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s “Islamophobia Observatory,” including such standards as “inflammatory political discourse against Muslims and Islam,” “blanket discrimination on the basis of religion,” “those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims,” “those who demonize and denigrate Islam,” “who toy with anti-Muslim bigotry,” and the ever-reliable “demonizing a religious faith and its adherents.” Although the op-ed seemed to target Donald Trump, it also admonished all Americans to limit what we say about Islam.

Petraeus’s attack was so over-the-top, no expression critical of Islamic doctrine would escape his censorship. Have you criticized mainstream Islamic doctrine or the laws of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates? You’re demonizing a religious faith. Do you object to authoritative Islamic doctrines justifying jihad, proclaimed by both Islamic governments and non-state Islamic militants alike? Stop toying with anti-Muslim bigotry; you’re just aiding “Islamist terrorists.”

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch expertly summarized Petraeus’s specious logic: “So the upshot of Petraeus’ argument is that we must not say things to which Muslims might object, because this will just make more of them become jihadis. His prescription for minimizing the jihad against the West is for the West to practice self-censorship in order to avoid offending Muslims.”

Sadly, Petraeus’s attacks primarily undercut the foremost critics of Islamic doctrine: Muslim reformers, the group of Muslims who most need our support. A prominent young Muslim reformer, Shireen Qudosi, responded to his op-ed with this poignant tweet: “Petraeus doesn’t see that for much of the maddening world of Muslims and liberals, hate speech is conflated w/ truth.”

The theme of Petraeus’s op-ed, “Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists,” was in line with a campaign to blame ISIS on Western critics of Islamic doctrine. For example, The Mirror: ”ISIS wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t Islamophobia”; The Nation: “ISIS Wants You to Hate Muslims”; The Guardian: “Islamophobia plays right into the hands of Isis”; Salon: “After Brussels, far-right Islamophobes are doing exactly what ISIS wants them to do”; and last but not least, Hillary Clinton in The Daily Mail: “‘He is becoming ISIS’ best recruiter’: Hillary Clinton blasts Donald Trump for demonizing Muslims and using ‘bluster and bigotry to inflame people.”

But in the curious case of Petraeus’s op-ed, what was deleted prior to publication is more interesting than what the Post finally published. Sometime early in the morning on Friday the 13th, these six words were deleted from the short Petraeus bio (known to editors as the ID) accompanying the piece: “chairman of the KKR Global Institute.”

Here’s a screenshot from the indispensable Newsdiffs.org website:

(Click to enlarge)

Explaining the deletion, Washington Post Opinion Editor Michael Larabee said, “The ID including the KKR phrase was not the final edited ID for the piece. I had decided on the shorter ID during the editing process, but unfortunately the longer ID was still on the Web text when it was published overnight. It was updated when it came to my attention first thing that morning.” Larabee later emailed, “We didn’t do a correction because there was no factual error to correct — both ID’s were accurate — and I can’t get into the internal process of how it came to my attention.”

Kristi Huller of KKR’s media office unequivocally stated Petraeus had requested the change. “General Petraeus regularly writes in his private capacity about non-investment specific issues and this was one of those instances. The Washington Post erroneously added the KKR affiliation. General Petraeus requested the update. KKR was not involved in the piece or the byline discussion with the Post.”

So why did Petraeus request that his KKR affiliation be removed? After all, he widely publicizes his KKR affiliation elsewhere. His LinkedIn page leads with his dual KKR roles: “General (Ret) David H. Petraeus joined KKR in June 2013 as Chairman of the KKR Global Institute. He was made a Partner in December 2014.”

Money Makes the World Go Round

Perhaps the Post should have let their readers judge for themselves if Petraeus’s financial interests in KKR, and KKR’s financial interests in the Middle East, were relevant to his op-ed demanding an end to criticism of Islam. KKR has been trying for the past seven years to enter private equity markets in Muslim-majority countries, especially in Dubai (part of the United Arab Emirates) and Saudi Arabia. During those same years, the governments of Dubai and Saudi Arabia hardened their laws against criticism of Islam at home, and increased their lobbying spending to shut down criticism of Islamic doctrine abroad.

Petraeus joined KKR in June 2013, six months after he had to resign from the CIA. As The New York Times noted in a 2015 profile of Petraeus, “private equity experts said his real value was his Rolodex. “Petraeus is kind of a door-opener,’ said one friend of Mr. Kravis, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private business matters. “If Petraeus helps Henry find a way to $100 million in investments in Kazakhstan or elsewhere, it’s a good deal for both of them.’”

KKR, a 40-year old global investment firm with $120 billion in assets under management, had begun as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., memorialized in Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s superb 1989 book ”Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco.” KKR first expanded into Europe and Asia, and in recent years they began their move into the Middle East.

In May 2009 the newly-formed subsidiary KKR Middle East and North Africa (KKR MENA) received a license to operate from the Dubai International Financial Centre. Two years later, in June 2011, another new KKR subsidiary, KKR Saudi Limited, received an Arranging License from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to seek investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, as the first global U.S. private equity firm to enter the Saudi market.

KKR had hired Petraeus as chairman of the Global Institute for exactly these opportunities, as Henry Kravis announced in KKR’s May 2013 press release announcing the Petraeus appointment: “As the world changes and we expand how and where we invest, we are always looking to sharpen the “KKR edge.’” Petraeus would help with “investments in new geographies,” presumably in those Middle East and Central Asian countries he knew from his years as CENTCOM commander and CIA director.

Nothing to See Here, Invest Away

Petraeus got to work, presenting a sunny view of reforms in the region in a December 2013 interview with the PrivCap newsletter (video and transcript highlights): “Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco. . . in each of these countries there have been far more reforms than I think most people recognize. You have to understand the culture. You have to understand the conflicting tensions in these countries to appreciate how much, say, King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia has really done in a state where there is a lot of conservative sentiment.”

In January 2014, exactly one month after Petraeus’s speech lauding regional reforms, Saudi Arabia passed the Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and Its Financing. As the Washington Post noted at the time, the Saudis were already using execution and lashing as punishments for any criticism of Islam (blasphemy), attempts to leave Islam (apostasy), or criticism of the government.

In February 2014, in an act that helped the global fight against terrorism, the Saudis designated the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, but they applied the January terrorism law primarily against dissidents who wanted to reform Saudi Arabia’s Islamic doctrines. According to Human Rights Watch, the enforcement regulations for the new 2014 “terrorism” law included:

Sweeping provisions that authorities can use to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam…Article 1. Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based. [Article 2:] Anyone who throws away their loyalty to the country’s rulers, or who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current [of thought], group, or individual inside or outside [the kingdom]…

A total of seven articles criminalized free expression, with prison sentences ranging from three to 20 years. The Saudis used the law to go after dissident bloggers, journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, anyone who stood out. Enforcement was arbitrary, brutal, and effective. Any communications with “reformers” became criminal. An example: an eight-year prison sentence was given to a Saudi for posting tweets and YouTube videos supporting demonstrations by families of imprisoned dissidents, as well as for “his sarcasm toward the ruler of the kingdom and its religious authorities.”

The New York Times and even MSNBC reported on the Saudi crackdown. Petraeus, in spite of — or perhaps, because of — his influence and contacts in the region, was silent. But he was happy to talk about his new position at KKR, as he did at the Aspen Ideas conference on June 30, 2014. Here’s a bit of the transcript:

GEN. PATRAEUS: Well, I’m very fortunate frankly. I’m embarked in a portfolio of activities that are intellectually stimulating and rewarding, enjoyable. I’m the chairman of the Global Institute of KKR. It’s like being the director of the CIA for a global financial firm with a lot smaller staff, I might add.

SCHIEFFER: But a lot higher compensation, I would guess?

GEN. PATRAEUS: Well, as the villainous prime minister in the British House of Cards used to say, you might say that — I couldn’t possibly comment. (Laughter)

Petraeus Brought in as the Middle East Melts

Meanwhile, the Middle East private equity market that KKR had entered so optimistically was throwing up barriers, according to KKR MENA head Kaveh Samie in a September 2014 Wall Street Journal interview. Valuations were set unrealistically high by the mostly family-owned local companies, who didn’t trust these foreign investment firms trying to enter the market. Layers of bureaucracy and regulations got in the way, including requirements for foreigners to hold only minority ownerships. KKR found it had entered a moribund deal market in the Gulf. Property prices and bank liquidity were dropping, dragged down by the global dive in oil prices.

Nonetheless, Petraeus was made a partner at KKR in December 2014, right before the full impact of America’s fracking boom hit the economies of Middle Eastern oil and gas producers.

In a search for investors for its funds, KKR began targeting family wealth firms around the globe. Reporters publicized Petraeus’s role as a kind of KKR secret weapon. In May 2015, Bloomberg reported “KKR Rolls Out Petraeus in $4 Trillion Hunt for Family Wealth.” In a mordantly amusing video at that link, Bloomberg’s Jason Kelly, struggling to explain why KKR would bring Petraeus into a meeting to raise money for a KKR fund, called him “a highly connected, global guy and he tells great stories…it’s a soft sell.”

Trump began his campaign the following month, and made his statement about a temporary ban on Muslim immigration in December 2015…


On May 6, one week before Petraeus’s op-ed was published, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal warned against Trump’s effect on U.S.-Saudi relations. According to the Washington Post, the Saudis have recently spent millions with public relations and lobbying firms to silence critics in the United States. The bill removing the Saudi’s immunity from lawsuits passed the Senate on May 16.

Context counts.

Capitalizing On a Government Career

The Washington Post opinion editor’s initial instinct to include Petraeus’s KKR affiliation was the right one, and it’s a shame Petraeus asked for its removal. The incident follows a well-worn path. In Washington, reputation is the drug of choice, dealt on every corner of the K Street lobbying corridor.

The typical case: a highly placed official with a sterling reputation retires, someone whose career gave him contacts with foreign governments and foreign business leaders. His reputation has a respectable public part, his resume, and a valuable private part, his contacts, especially foreign contacts who control emerging markets and have money to spend on lobbying. When this useful individual speaks at conferences or publishes an op-ed or testifies before the Senate, his past resume is all that is presented when he is introduced as a speaker or summarized in a Washington Post “ID” accompanying his op-ed.

But his current employers, partners, and clients? Not disclosed, and neither K Street customs nor government regulations require the disclosure. If his speech, op-ed, or testimony just happens to align with the interests of his employers, partners, clients? That’s a serendipitous coincidence, an irrelevancy. As KKR stated, “General Petraeus regularly writes in his private capacity.”

Anyway, what difference does it make? The rules are clear. If you’re inside the Beltway, you already knew, and you have no need to know if you’re anywhere else.

Christine Brim is a founder of Paratos LLC, a risk communications consultancy. Previously she served at the Center for Security Policy as a vice president and chief operating officer.

Read the rest (and click the relevant links) at The Federalist.

21 thoughts on “Why David Petraeus Wants You To Shut Up About Islamism

  1. It appears that some people are of the opinion General Petreus has secretly converted to islam. If that is true it would fully explain why he wants to ban criticism of the cult religion.

    • Arrrgh. Folks we’ve got to let go of this “secret Muslim” thing. It is utterly chimerical. The first obligation of any Muslim anytime anywhere is to announce in a clear unequivocal voice that there is no God but God and that Mohammed is his messenger. The number of people out there actually permitted to practice taqiyya is vanishingly small.

  2. What a weird bunch of ignorance-is-the-key creatures the west has produced. Maybe it will soon become obvious that the “seventy years of peace since wowo2 that keeps blathering on and on was not so after all. With a gay blade and a nice guy like Petrafied and other ladies in charge of the military the prospects for certified insanity and a true Hell on earth are looking good. Meanwhile back at the mosque.

  3. When I saw this piece and scanned it briefly to see if I wanted to follow it, my mind whispered “Saudi Arabia”. And by the end of the piece I said “Thanks” to my mind
    and no thanks to useless, truth suppressers like David Petraeus, who I hope will
    suffer immense financial losses from now until eternity! The rat!

  4. What a disgrace that an American general would not only prostitute himself in this manner, but literally sell America to the Islamists in order to enrich himself.

    Petraeus has forgotten “The Army Values,” if he ever understood them.

    “The Army Values”

    Many people know what the words Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage mean. But how often do you see someone actually live up to them? Soldiers learn these values in detail during Basic Combat Training (BCT), from then on they live them every day in everything they do — whether they’re on the job or off. In short, the Seven Core Army Values listed below are what being a Soldier is all about.


    • He showed his true colors early, courting and marrying the West Point commandant’s daughter. He was/is an ambitious man.

  5. “The globalists LOVE Islam. It’s everything they could possibly want in a false religion. They love its brutality, the way it viciously polices its own and crushes dissent from within. They love its dehumanization, how it turns its followers into little more than human ammunition, eager to be spent in the slaughter of infidels. They love its crushing of spirit, how it keeps entire populations ignorant of history and science while living in destitute poverty, convincing them that fighting the infidels is more important than civilian infrastructure. They love its real rape culture, the way it reduces women and girls to mere livestock, to be raped or beaten or killed or sold on a whim. But most of all, they love its system of unquestioning loyalty, how its followers wouldn’t dare think twice if their imams told them to butcher that person or blow up that kindergarten or beat their own daughter to death. This is why the demonic death cult of Islam has been chosen by the globalists as the official false religion of their new world order.” – cyberjacques

    A fellow commenter’s summary but spot on!

    • CW-

      You and the other commenter are exactly correct.

      The oligarchs LOVE the self-policing aspect of the Ummah because it is much cheaper and safer for them than paying police, military, or mercenaries to keep the masses under control.

  6. I wrote an article on his wife a few years ago -those two deserve each other – both are really, really bad news. They both apparently hate America or see it as simply a cash cow. His mistress (former mistress), Paul Broad-something is just as bad as the two of them.

  7. I think Petraeus’ current philippic against critics of Islam can be traced to both his own character and to the general treatment of warriors in the military by the US.

    Petraeus announced and enforced the “Rules of Engagement” for the military in Afghanistan. These rules specified, among other things, that US soldiers had to give warning before searching for the enemy in villages, and they were not allowed to fire on enemy who were preparing to shoot at US troops, but had not yet done so.

    But further, after a lifetime of service in the US military, Petraeus was forced to resign in disgrace for a security offense that didn’t even lick the shoe of the massive, intentional security breaches committed by Hillary Clinton. I believe the treatment of Petraeus was part of a general effort by US leftists and bureaucrats to turn the military into the role of compliant courtiers, rather than warriors. Petraeus saw the rewards and disgrace he got for a lifetime of service, even if flawed, and perhaps his attitude of throwing away any honor which was left can be partially explained by the total lack of respect or support given to warriors in the military.

    A worthwhile warrior will be a loose cannon on occasion. It’s part of the personality that makes a warrior rather than a bureaucrat. This is illustrated in almost all the wars fought by the US, where the US didn’t begin winning until the bureaucratic deadwood in the military bureaucracy was cleared out, and the real warriors brought in. Ulysses Grant in the Civil War is a perfect example.

    • Yeah I thought I read something about Petraeus blabbing top secret military information to some woman he was having an affair with.It sounded like a typical K.G.B honey -trap. Petraeus is a traitor nothing more and nothing less.
      His “Rules of Engagement” put U.S troops lives at risk unnecessarily and also made them ineffectual.
      If you announce you are going to search the village for the enemy ,the enemy slips out of the back door and hides out in safety ,only to return when you have left.
      If you can’t fire back until the enemy fires first then it means they can kill most of you in the first barrage leaving a few wounded survivors to fight back against overwhelming odds.
      Petraeus is the reason the U.S has not managed to decisively win the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and why the casualty list is so high.
      Absolutely disgraceful to betray his fellow soldiers in the name of virtue -signaling .
      When you are in the trenches you’d be better off sharing them with a rattlesnake then the treacherous Petraeus.

  8. Christine Brim writes:

    “Sadly, Petraeus’s attacks primarily undercut the foremost critics of Islamic doctrine: Muslim reformers, the group of Muslims who most need our support. A prominent young Muslim reformer, Shireen Qudosi…”

    ROMPRLMAO (= Rolling On My Prayer Rug, Laughing My ___ Off) (gotta laugh, or I’ll cry, when the Counter-Jihad is promoting Muslim “reformers” with a straight face…)

  9. A career long and institutional lack of accountability. The Army has failed the Solidier, but the officer ranks continue to grow. Those that do stand for something (Ham’s Libya, Boykin just the other day for a comment on transgender BS, and even Coughlin) often see their careers ended.

    Is it any wonder that this arrogant, smug bastard would act so? He who betrayed his country by disclosing classified materials to a woman he was involved with? I am absolutely disgusted at what the military leadership has become, and has produced.

    Catastrophic failure indeed.

  10. My nuts antennae start wobbling whenever I read anything utilizing the expression “New World Order” or even “Globalist elites”, but this is a truly appalling smoking gun: Petraeus’ ID included his KRR role half an hour after midnight, but just after 8.30am the Editor decided to delete it. And we learn, not from the Editor (who offered some pathetic anodyne explanation for it), that this was done at Petraeus’ specific request.

    It is one, very unsavoury, thing that politicians, bureaucrats and academics (what is the name of that Saudi-funded academic in Washington DC whose apologetics for Islam make one’s head spin? Greek surname?) rent themselves out as shills for Persian Gulf Islamic autocracies, but an entirely different matter when a retired army general does it. One would think that the military honour code would be operative.

    Perhaps Petraeus should read a little of the biography of George Patton. After Operation Torch at the end of 1942, General Patton described in a letter to his wife the role Islam played in the retardation of Morocco and Algeria along these lines: “Any country which treats its women and animals as badly as they do over here is destined to remain stuck centuries behind”. This observation of Patton’s bears thinking about for several reasons. Firstly, Patton was notorious as a hard-driving military commander, not someone given to soft-headed sentimentalities. Secondly, for him to include that in a letter to his wife whilst he was conducting a war means it must have affected him really deeply. One would think there would be other things on his mind. Thirdly, in the era in which he drew this impression and relayed it to his wife wasn’t one in which feminist sentiments were prevalent; the term had yet to be invented. Plainly Patton just cared about the welfare of human beings and of animals, saw the consequences of a bad socio-religious system at work and said so; he didn’t need any “ism” to wrap it up in.

    I imagine that Patton would be turning in his grave at the notion that a general of the same army that he fought for as a career officer was selling himself to the religion of backwardness and cruelty for a few measly bucks. Utterly shameful.

    • Petraeus (and what a noble sounding name of Roman origin) has already sold out every other value one reasonably expects from a military leader, indeed any leader; loyalty and fidelity to his wife, family and country having ordinance.

    • Here is a more complete list of the Rules of Engagement for the troops in Afghanistan under Petraeus:

      By interviewing U.S. forces engaged in Afghanistan, the Washington Times pieced together a few of the Rules of Engagement understood to reflect Karzai’s Twelve Rules: ·

      No night or surprise searches. ·
      Villagers have to be warned prior to searches. ·
      Afghan National Army (ANA) or Afghan National Police (ANP) must accompany U.S. units on searches. ·
      U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first. ·
      U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present. ·
      Troops can fire at an insurgent if they catch him placing an IED, but not if insurgents are walking away from an area where explosives have been laid.[

      Coughlin, Stephen (2015-05-04). Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad (Kindle Locations 10937-10951). Center for Security Policy Press. Kindle Edition.

      “In his first tactical directive since assuming command of international forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus doubled down on the orders imposed by his predecessor that put a premium on protecting civilians first to win their support. For months those rules of engagement, formulated by General Stanley McChrystal, have led to rank-and-file grumblings by U.S. soldiers. The servicemen say that the strict rules put them in greater danger, even as they aim to avoid civilian casualties. The grumbling is unlikely to diminish with the new directives that Petraeus issued on Wednesday.”


  11. Sadly, I admit to being wrong about this man. Oh well, can’t get them all right.

  12. This from the guy who willing traded top secret documents for sexual favors – he should be in jail.

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