It took a few days, but the Petraeus cultists are now fighting back. Ricks, of course, floated the trial balloon on this on Friday, asking, “Why does Petraeus have to go?”
But why? Petraeus is retired from the military. If the affair happened back when he was on active duty, it is part of the past. And there is nothing illegal about civilians having affairs.
Max Boot has since chimed in:
But in the case of Petraeus, at least to judge by what has come out so far, there is no sign that he did anything wrong beyond violating his marriage vows.
Petraeus might very well have survived in office if he had decided to brazen it out. Instead, he apparently chose to fall on his sword, samurai-style, because he thought he had disgraced himself and his family. That speaks well to his standard of honor, but our government will suffer if we lose the services of such extraordinary public servants over such personal peccadilloes.
Indeed, this is the gist of my twitter feed today. It was a private affair, and if anything Petraeus’ conduct demonstrates, more than ever, what a great and honorable man he is.
Well, it wasn’t a private affair. Broadwell wasn’t some random family friend. She was his de facto official biographer. He’d used his position, first in the military and then at CIA, to enhance her visibility and reputation precisely because she was able and willing to burnish his public image. Petraeus’ conduct with Broadwell was abhorent even before he had sex with her. He used government resources to promote himself personally and to leverage that popularity in order to back elected officials into a corner in order to get what he wanted both in terms of policy and in terms of personal advancement. This is a public affair and it speaks directly to Petraeus’ abuse of power and position throughout the last decade.
I’ll also note that many of his defenders, particularly those trotting out the “private affair” line of argumentation are similarly compromised. Ricks, Boot, Andrew Exum, Mike O’Hanlon, and many others were all part of the same dirty little quid-pro-quo, where they got career boosts and access in return for building up the Petraeus cult.
Again, this is not a private affair. Broadwell was part of a general pattern of abuse of power and violation of civil-military norms by David Petraeus. Focusing on the sex is just a nice way to deflect from the deeper corruption here.
Sorry, if it seems like I am beating a dead horse here, but I just can’t believe how shameless are Petraeus’ acolytes in trying to make turn even his cheating on his wife into some sort of badge of honor.
Also… pointing out that Petraeus has been a cancer on civil-military relations does not absolve Bush, Rumsfeld, etc. for their wars. That said, the Butcher’s Bill is large enough that there are a lot of people who deserve some share of the blame. It is true that Petraeus did not get us into Iraq or Afghanistan. But it is also undeniably true that Petraeus was a key reason why instead of pulling out from Iraq in 2004 or 2006, we waited until 2011. He is also THE key player in the 2009 surge in Afghanistan, which gave us an additional half-decade of costly conflict in that country to accomplish precisely nothing.
As bad as the 2003 Iraq decision was, that mistake did not need to be as costly (to the United States, at least), as it turned out to be. If not for Petraeus, the whole counter-insurgency, nation-building, prolonged occupation approach might never have take root. Remember, Rumsfeld had hoped to pull out of Iraq by the end of 2003 — leaving a mess surely, but at least, perhaps, saving thousands of American lives. The early pull-out concept died in 2004, at least in part because Petraeus when he returned from his first tour in Iraq was relentless in lobbying for an extended, counter-insurgency mission.