Your own personal militarized version of the 737 luxury business jet with a bed installed just in case you feel the need to join the Mile High Club; a valet, butler, gourmet chef and other staff; free room and board in lavish style; a giddy whirl of socialite parties in multi-million mansion; motorcades with up to five limos and 28 outriders; a string quartet at dinner or a squad to do your yardwork any time you feel the need; privileged access to world-class military golf courses. This is the lifestyle of modern rich and famous US Generals, pulling down well over $100,000 in annual take-home pay they can invest because they don’t have to spend on anything much and looking forward to a quarter of a million a year pension – not to mention all the future investment opportunities, corporate sinecures and appearance fees of a major military celebrity.
David Barno, a retired three-star general who commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan, warned in an interview that the environment in which the top brass lives has the potential “to become corrosive over time upon how they live their life.”
“You can become completely disconnected from the way people live in the regular world — and even from the modest lifestyle of others in the military,” Barno said. “When that happens, it’s not necessarily healthy either for the military or the country.”
And it leads to idiocy like making a pass at your own biographer or getting a nutty Florida social gadfly appointed as an “honorary consul” so she can try to do dodgy deals.
Maybe the one flunky Petraeus and the other generals really need is an equivalent to the guy who used to ride in Caesar’s chariot and whisper in his ear “Respice te, hominem te memento” (“Look behind you, remember you are only a man”).