The Sins of General David Petraeus

I was long in awe of General David Petraeus, and the only thing that begins to mitigate how blind I was to his true character is that there are journalists with far more credibility than myself — chief among them Tom Ricks — who also were taken in and played by him like a cheap violin.

As the now disgraced CIA director returns to Capitol Hill today for more testimony on the Benghazi massacre, Michael Hastings offers a must-read titled “The Sins of General David Petraeus.”

And here’s a further thought for discussion: Was the Obama administration well aware that Petraeus was a time bomb, both because his slavish devotion to the neocon brain trust that was responsible for the Iraq War and his manifold personal failings, and figured the best place for him was heading the CIA, long a deeply dysfunctional agency that couldn’t be run further into the ground?

         

12 Comments

  1. SM, Just curious, were you one of the people that called him Gen. Betrayus?

  2. dduck:

    Absolutely not, primarily because tarring Petraeus conveniently ignored an important reality: The bucks stops with the commander in chief and not his generals and admirals. Secondarily because I have come to despise Move.On, which led the liberal vilification of Petraeus, in the same way I despise PETA. It’s more about them than the cause.

  3. Good for you.

  4. BTW: A book I think you will like a lot: Lost In Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff.
    WWII survival saga in New Guinea.

  5. time bomb? he had an affair… something lots of Americans have experience with. Was it a serious violation of his marriage? Yes. Did that make him a time bomb? No.

  6. ShannonLeee:

    Read the article to which I link. He was a time bomb who has now been defused.

  7. Mr. Mullen,
    I think if you are going to attack my reputation, you should provide some evidence. Is there anyone besides Michael Hastings you can cite? I ask because he and I have some differences about his own credibility.
    Best,
    Tom Ricks

  8. Mr. Ricks:

    First of all, please recall that I have written glowingly of you many times over the years. This does not, however, confer immortality on you or mean that perhaps you did not have the full measure of General Petraeus. I acknowledge that I did not while you infer that you did and were not compromised in any way by his adroit wooing of journalists.

    Mr. Hastings makes a solid case that the general was a loose cannon when it came to his conservative political views and affiliations with the very warmongers (my word) that are responsible for the U.S. being at war for an unprecedented 11 years, as well as the extent to which he was willing to go to push his own agenda behind the back of the commander in chief. Or should I say a couple of commanders in chief. He would not, of course, be the first general or admiral to do so, but that does not make it right in the context of a nation at war for an unprecedented 11 years.

    Meanwhile, the general’s sexual liaisons are what they are and I agree with Mr. Hastings that they are a distraction, in this case one that has brought a career to earth with a shattering thud.

    Do you care to bite on my suggestion that the president tasked Petraeus with the CIA job because it was a post in which he could make less trouble for him?

  9. Maybe he was placed in that position because he literally wrote the book on counter tourism and the surge. Tom Ricks writes in his book that petraeus did not come up with the idea on his own. It was taken from officers that had local success with the tactics. He also wrote that the general required help from many people to get the surge ideas up the ranks. Petraeus was a not so successful favorite of the neocon movement…which I believe is exactly why you are going a bit off the map on this one.
    If Obama/dems were afraid of him, he would have never been given that job.

  10. ShannonLeee:

    As you can see from the link to my review, I read Ricks’ book on the Surge. He indeed did not come up with the COIN concept on his own, but cobbled it together from the disastrous COIN experiences in Vietnam and from a Marine Corps major and his own Aussie aide de camp in Iraq. No matter, he knew a good thing when he saw it and Dubya was desperate for a way out of the mess his administration had made.

    A little nuance is in order here: The Obama administration could not have cashiered Petraeus despite his liabilities because of his immense popularity among the public. That is why there may be merit to him being shunted off to Langley where the personal indiscretion time bomb that had been slowly ticking would go off.

    I disagree with you about Petraeus not being a neocon favorite. He became one and, I believe, saw these devotees of perpetual war as allies. They viewed him similarly.

  11. Shaun, apologies for my miswording. He was a neocon favoriite. He was unexceptional until he and others sat down and reworked the book on counter insurgencies. I believe he was responsible for a large number of misplaced weapons. He was in charge of the failed afghan training. He also wrote that terrible piece for Bush et al. Yet, he helped pull us out of Iraq and saved countless lives with his new strategy.

    Outside of some previous failures…what liabilities? IMHO, at the time, he was perfect for the job.

  12. SM,said: “That is why there may be merit to him being shunted off to Langley where the personal indiscretion time bomb that had been slowly ticking would go off.”
    Are you implying, as I believe, that the affair started earlier than DP has stated? Or am I reaching.

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