Michael's Dispatches

Petraeus: A Sad Day for the United States


12 November 2012

photo-1000(Photo courtesy of CIA)

General (ret.) David Petraeus is a peerless asset to the United States.  His contributions to the war and to the nation have been incalculable.  No one can estimate the number of lives among Americans, the Coalition and Iraqi civilians that his wise leadership saved during that horrible war.  His short leadership in Afghanistan rekindled my confidence that that war also might be brought to heel.  Unfortunately, he was sent back to lead the CIA, which was a great loss for the military.
Director Petraeus's accomplishments can never be erased.  He will undoubtedly be demonized for his affair.  It is not easy to ameliorate the stain that it leaves, as the potential final word summing up an impeccable career.

All Alphas have enemies.  Petraeus is no exception.  The finest leaders usually have more enemies than the company men whose mantra is, "Don't bail the sinking boat. The boss said the boat is not sinking." Unfortunately we have a surfeit of company men and only one Dave Petraeus.

Petraeus’s paramour is Paula Broadwell.  I know Paula, but not as well as I know Dave Petraeus.  I spent much time talking with Paula in Afghanistan.  Her beauty and her confidence are apparent in seconds.  It takes another five minutes to realize that she is very bright, and five minutes more to realize that Paula, too, is an Alpha.  She believes that women should be Rangers, and infantry officers, and are capable of standing beside men in combat. Ironically, her role in this spectacle serves as a counter to her own argument.

David Petraeus spent years downrange in the wars.  Some of his own staff members bailed from the stress, yet General Petraeus kept going.  In the middle of all this, he battled cancer and survived.  During a 2010 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, he passed out at the table.  Yet he kept going and he never publicly complained.  And then Paula came along.  You might as well starve the man and then cook barbeque outside his cave.

During 2007, at the peak of the Iraq war, an infantry lieutenant colonel told me about the time that Colonel Petraeus was shot during training.  A Soldier accidentally put a bullet straight through Petraeus’s chest.  Blood and lungs were coming from his mouth.  Petraeus nearly died.

Normally a mistake like this might end the career of the Soldier who fired the shot, and it might adversely affect the career of his commanding officer.  Instead, Colonel Petraeus survived and he sent the young Soldier to Ranger school. It was the young commander, now older, who told me the story in Iraq. His man fired the shot that almost killed Petraeus.   If Petraeus had kicked the young officer out of the Army, it would have been our loss. Instead, Petraeus took a bullet to the chest and he turned it into a teachable moment.  That is David Petraeus.

Today journalists and others whinge that they were duped into the cult of Petraeus.  Untrue.  He really is that man, but he is also just a man.

Petraeus has a long reputation as a mentor.  Any insinuation that he used mentorship to prey on Paula Broadwell falls flat.  You can hardly talk to the man without him leaving you with a reading assignment.  "Michael, make sure to read Foreign Affairs."  With this one remarkable exception, the man leads by example.

Paula's intentions are the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. It is unwise to hypothesize without facts, and Paula deserves the benefit of proper investigation. She is somebody’s daughter, a wife and a mother, and an American citizen.

David Petraeus has enemies.  Many wish to see him fall.  For example, years ago, a CIA officer confided an abiding hatred for General Petraeus to me. After the CIA officer explained the circumstances, I respected Petraeus more.  The officer had a sack of hurt feelings after a combat disaster in Iraq, to which Petraeus, instead of offering a shoulder to cry on, said buck up, there is work to do.

In Afghanistan, I would see Paula at the morning briefings where Petraeus presided. She is connected within powerful circles, including within the special operations community.  Access begets access, and once you reach a certain level, you no longer care about doors slamming in your face: every time a door slams, the concussion opens five more.  Access is a two-way street. Washington has a million doors down thousands of hallways, and nobody, no matter how powerful, controls more than a single hallway.  After you reach a certain level of access, nobody can shut you out.  Paula reached that level, and Paula enjoyed playing with high-tension wires where a single misstep can pop a career like a bug zapper, slamming thousands of doors at once.  Where this leaves Paula remains to be seen.

Conspiracy theories are crackling the airwaves.  The timing of the DCI’s resignation obviously raises questions, but the atomic structure of the event at least is clear.  Dave and Paula had an affair.  Dave preferred to resign rather than be fired.  What was okay for President Clinton is not okay for other government servants, and we all need to keep a handle on that.

No man is without fault.  This fiasco does not diminish David Petraeus's contributions to the United States, nor his positive impact on the many people that he inspired and mentored.  Dave stumbled. He is fallible. Nonetheless, he remains a remarkable man with rare insights and much earned wisdom.  After a decade of persistent sacrifice, he deserves a rest.  When General (ret.) Petraeus is ready to resume, no doubt there will be a long line of people requesting his able services.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Douglas · 8 years ago
    I'm surprised, but also not surprised.

    http://soldiercitizen.wordpress.com/2012/11/1 /petraeus-broadwell-and-female-prowlers-in-the-military/
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JamesH · 8 years ago
    This administration has had it in for Petraeus for a long time. He was successful in Iraq after all and was called "Betray us" by the left.

    What would possess him to work for Obama in the first place is beyond me. They wanted to keep him under wraps so he wouldn't run for president. Now they got him by the short hairs to shut him up about Benghazi. What was Paula promised?

    Does it matter anyway? This country is done for. Socialism has won and our freedoms are lost.

    What can you expect when a nation legally aborts 50 million of its own most defenseless citizens.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David Hindin · 8 years ago
    I commend you the continuing "The New Yorker" coverage of this issue. In particular:
    November 1 , 2012
    "What’s the old saying? If you made this stuff up, nobody would believe it."
    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2012/11/the-generals-and-the-women-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html#ixzz2C9ZtrI00

    November 1 , 2012
    Posted by Jon Lee Anderson
    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment#ixzz2C9cp6AOE
    November 11, 2012
    Posted by Jane Mayer
    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2.html#ixzz2C9e6tMWH
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Denise · 8 years ago
    As I carefully looked at this close up photo of Petraeus, I was struck by the fact that if you look at his face closely and then Paula's-- they are a mirror of each other, they physically resemble each other feature wise, intensity wise, His Alpha to Her Alpha. Water meets it's own level.

    Some have slammed Paula...others Petraeus and I think that is unfair. They are both leaders they did not get "led'. People are complicated, they are not one dimensional, they are not their name or rank. I do not condone the action of either one-they both will pay a high price for their actions, but I learned a long time ago that people vote with their feet, where they are is where they wanted to be.

    What I find stunning is that in this age of social media, where everything is traceable. and high profile people are under a microscope that either one were so careless ... as a friend said to me who tends not mice words.. "If you're in the game and you don't know who the mark is … you're the mark.”
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robin · 8 years ago
    Attitude is a reflection of leadership. - Remember The Titans
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Wenzel · 8 years ago
    Petreaus willingness to testify opens the door for him to maintaon his exceptional legacy. All depends on his pouring out his heart and soul for humanity. Let him start with Lt. Col. Wood, tell who said "No" to him and continue up the chain to the one with first resposibility. His testimoney will tell us if he can maintain his exemplary character.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Elton Johnson Jr · 8 years ago
      I'd like to salute you for your WWII service. Seeing how the US is today, I know for a fact that we will NEVER see another generation like yours.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    vrajavala · 8 years ago
    i heard on Blaze radio thst the Gen was transitioning without his normal miitary environs and colleagues. Broadwell simply filled in as his jogging partner etc. and progressed from there
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joel Mackey · 8 years ago
    there is a joke, it goes like this:

    a man walks in a bar and sits down, orders a beer and somewhat agitated looks at the bartender and says, I have built a hundred houses, do they call me a housebuilder? no.

    I have built 50 bridges, do they call me a bridge builder? No.

    I have built 10 skyscrapers, do they call me an architect? No.

    but you suck one dick.....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jerry kelly · 8 years ago
    Yon is the rightwings cheerleader for the war..any war will really do.The Clue fans trying to blame our president need to decide on a story and stick to it.Is President Obama a master plotter bringing down his military foes

    or is he just a community organizer in over his head? I so enjoy the pain his reelection has caused you mooks that I hope your party keeps looking into this small matter.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      glissmeister · 8 years ago
      So prepare to be abandoned, draftdoger. Prepare to be betrayed for the greater good; by those superior to you with special credentials that say they are superior to you and therefore enjoy privileged personal identity protected from enforcement of the same laws that apply to you and me.

      You were once called lower or middle income. They see you only as lower or middle class; i.e., not upper; not royal; not elite. You and I are now of the "Lesser Classes." This how the syndicate insiders of the beltway ivy league, unionized media, unionized government and Chicago/Wall Street syndicate insiders have come to see the rest of American. In their eyes, we cannot be trusted. This is why it is only they who must rule.

      Prepare to be a mere subject. You shall be promised Equality to replace individual Liberty. You shall be ruled by experts who are better than you because; either by credentialed conditioning in a post modern ivy league university; by blood relation to party elites, or by party identify status and station.

      Your daily living and life choices will be increasingly subject to peer review, delimited as determined by duly credentialed experts sponsored by syndicate insiders. They will propound endless Hegelian scientisms which determine and then modulate your correctly attributed value and station in society. Your property will be deemed preemptively owned by the greater good,which must also be administered and policed by the trustees of the greater good.

      And they will enjoy the right of selective, depraved inaction with full indemnity. Obamacare threatens to kill millions more than Benghazi, as did Fast & Furious and many other "acceptable casualties" of the Obama world.... no different from the serial mass murder of children on the streets of Chicago awash with billions in federal grants, paid union police, paid union school security, paid union teachers and the highest paid school administrators in the nation... all laundering the mass murder of Chicago youth into a flood of incoming federal grant money that depends upon perpetuating the culture that exposes the genocide of Chicago youth as instead a Democide that ultimately serves to profit the cartelized institutional elite bilking billions from the federal coffers.

      The unfolding fatal conceit demonstrated by the Obama Cartel is more malignantly Hegelian than the presidencies of TR, Wilson and FDR combined.

      In the Obama Era, we are all Christopher Stevens.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      glissmeister · 8 years ago
      Beware your fatal conceit, draftdodger. It increasingly appears the death of Christopher Stevens was murder-by-neglect.

      Did you consider this faithful personal envoy of the President was closer friend to Obama than you will likely ever be? Can't you face what Obama did to him by denying Cross Border Authority to his desperately willing professional military with rescuers standing at the ready?

      Christopher Stevens was murdered in a depravity of calculated silence by Cross Border Authority withheld.

      In this age of Obama, we are all Christopher Stevens. You and all whom you love, they too are Christopher Stevens.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Denise · 8 years ago
      Are you insane ? Or did your Mother fail to bond with you as a child so you come here looking for attention ? How about Obama just tell the truth ? How about that ? Yes Obama won through fraud but the joke is on you. Small matter ? Really ? 4 Americans dead because of the failure of your Messiah? There is a lot of dead bodies piling up under Obama. The ony thing that is "small" is your brain matter and the other brain that does your thinking for you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jon David · 8 years ago
    I'm quite disappointed to hear of this. Despite being a Malaysian, I have always admired General Petraeus. To learn of this is a terrible disappointment.

    It's not just a sad day for the US, it's a sad day for his wife.

    That said, I respect that he pulled the plug and left with what remains of his dignity intact. When was the last time someone in a scandal like this resigned?

    It is a shame that all his past accomplishments will be tarnished by this affair, but that's the nature of sin.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MSO · 8 years ago
    General Patraeus and LTC Broadwell were a perfect match for each other. The unlearned lesson here is that if our finest will fall to temptation, so will our least.

    Men and women serving together in the military will always suffer from this.
  • This commment is unpublished.
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