Not a Private Affair

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.






130 replies
  1. 1
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I like the concept of the “public affair.” What are some others in this, um, vein?

  2. 2
    Felonius Monk says:

    Now that the horse is out of the barn (to use a tired, old cliche), Petraeus knows that he can no longer command the respect of those he leads at the CIA. He’s damaged goods, even if it turns out he has done nothing illegal.
    His acolytes notwithstanding, so long Dave and don’t let the door hit you in the ass. Let’s move on — the republic will survive.

  3. 3
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    AL post: 5:58 pm – Bernard Finel post: 6:08 pm

    Maybe check the front page before you hit “Publish”? Let a thread develop before you bigfoot all over it? Especially given that this is about David Fucking Petraeus, who’s going to be in the news for a while.

    kthxbai

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    Remember, Rumsfeld had hoped to pull out of Iraq by the end of 2003

    I thought the liberal view was that Bush/Cheney had always planned to occupy Iraq permanently. I wish you had links to support your assertions.

  5. 5
    blingee says:

    I wish Dems and progressives were better at messaging.

    He should be referred as “long time Republican Petraeus”. “one time potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Petraeus.

  6. 6
    Calouste says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the line we find out that Petraeus and Broadwell actually didn’t do the dirty and the whole “affair” thing is a distraction for the real shit that was going on.

  7. 7
    geg6 says:

    I just want to tell you that I can’t find a word of anything you’ve written on this that isn’t cogent, well argued and spot on in every sense. Good stuff you’re doing on this, Bernard.

    I always knew this guy was a piece of shit work. Ugh, I remember having arguments with friends over THE SURGE! that mirrored the arguments I had with them over the original Iraq invasion. No one believed me until it was much too late. Damn, I wish I could have a very limited case of amnesia that would let me forget 2000-08.

  8. 8
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Keep up the regular posting, Bernard. Don’t always agree with you but it’s nice to have a non-Bot, non-military fetishist posting amongst the usual suspects and they know who they are.

  9. 9
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    it’s nice to have a non-Bot, non-military fetishist posting amongst the usual suspects and they know who they are.

    Go fuck yourself with that strawman bullshit.

  10. 10
    MattF says:

    Oh, c’mon. CIA Director? I’ve had a high-level clearance, and let me tell you– “affair with biographer” is adverse information, in spades. There’s a reason the FBI got involved, and it’s not idle curiosity.

  11. 11
    HBinBoston says:

    What was Gen. Petreaus’ most significant accomplishment?
    The Surge?
    No, The Urge

  12. 12
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Calouste:

    the whole “affair” thing is a distraction for the real shit that was going on.

    Care to elaborate? My telepathy thingey ain’t workin’ today.

  13. 13
    Bago says:

    I are confuzzled. Fit running man bones a fit running woman. That shouldn’t be a big deal. Using gmail, with a presumption of security as head of the CIA, that’s some ignorance right there.
    Why are the eyes on the penis instead of on the email?

    Seriously. I want people to explain why penis placement is more important than basic informatics competence when you are head of the CIA.

  14. 14
    currants says:

    Much more useful thread below. No offense intended, of course.

  15. 15
    cathyx says:

    I’m guessing Mrs. Petraeus is sticking by her man?

  16. 16
    erlking says:

    Totally irrelevant but this irks the shit out of me, “…he apparently chose to fall on his sword, samurai-style….”

    Romans fell on their swords. The samurai, in disgrace, committed seppuku.

    Details matter, people.

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    One of the articles I read this morning mentioned Petraeus’ management philosophy as, “It doesn’t matter what really happened, what matters is what the bosses think happened,” so I’d say he’s a Republican.

  18. 18

    Let a thread develop before you bigfoot all over it?

    Ruh? I think readers and commenters alike can handle the spike in content, particularly with widely divergent topics.

    Or, perhaps not

    ETA: He had to go. The degree of ‘survival’ is a cynical Village concept in this instance – the man was head of the CIA and was questioned by the FBI about an extramarital affair. Even if no laws were broken, the resultant shitstorm was going to sully everything and everyone involved. Hasta luega, hombre.

  19. 19
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Go fuck yourself with that strawman bullshit.

    I point and laugh at your weakness.

  20. 20
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Baud: The original plan that was publicly talked about (I still don’t think it was the real one) was to get into Iraq, tear shit up, emplace a friendly government, and leave as quickly as possible.
    The amount of magical thinking that entails is fucking staggering to the point that I don’t believe it was the real plan. I think it was something that was sold to the public to lessen the impact. I think their real plan, as evidenced by all the infrastructure they had put in the country, and the size of the embassy and everything else was to use Iraq and its friendly government as a base of operations from which to attack other countries in the middle east as needed.

    And while I don’t agree with everything Bernard has said here–I think the cult of Petraeus is as much about people glomming onto success as any kind of intentional cultivation, and the aforementioned infrastructure work I saw in Iraq, to name two examples, I think he’s done a great job making a persuasive case. And it’s a subject that deserves debate.

  21. 21
    John says:

    Even ignoring all of that, it seems to me that if, as I believe to be the case, CIA employees can be fired for being discovered to have engaged in secret extramarital affairs, that the CIA Director should have to resign if he is caught doing the same thing.

  22. 22
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    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.

    In other words it wasn’t his fucking that’s the real problem, it’s the media blow jobs.

  23. 23
    Bago says:

    Oh sweet bloody hell, the OS and script prevent me from editing my comment correctly on my iPad. #firstworldproblems

  24. 24
    mai naem says:

    I thought it was funny/ironic that they used Andrea Mitchell(60+ married 80+ year old Greenspan) and Bob Woodward(almost 70 married to 50+ colleague) to discuss David Petraeus(60+,mistress 40+).

    Also I was listening to Fox Talk earlier today. They were talking about Petraeus and how Obama/Holder had to have known about it blah blah blah. Zip about Petraeus being a Repub, being a Repub candidate, being a possible VP for Romney. Nada. They also mentioned that Broadwell had been on Fox Radio twice and Fox teevee once. I would bet Broadwell is a Republican as well.

  25. 25
    Zam says:

    Don’t forget that if he was considered a democrat we would already be holding treason hearings against him. Hell we will probably be holding hearings in the House about how it is actually Obama’s fault that this man gave unprecedented access and information to a journalist in exchange for some fun times. On the opposite side dems are letting him step down so long as nothing serious was compromised, as it seems so far.

  26. 26
    Enhanced Mooching Techniques says:

    Grrr the *freaking head of the gosh darn CIA was knowingly doing and act that left him exposed to black mail* Why is it so hard for these media twats to understand that??

  27. 27

    Imagine some random high-level subordinate of Petraeus’s had been discovered in the same situation.

    Given the potential security risk and the political embarrassment involved, do any of these fans and acolytes doubt for a second that Petraeus would not have instantly demanded that subordinate’s resignation? So he did the same.

    The ‘wottsa big deal?’ response to the affair(s) from some on the Right sounds a little too much like the old ‘King’s Prerogative’ to me.

    Still amazing to me how many in this country seem pre-wired to kneel before a King.

    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 Iraq invasion was stupid and wrong, and I opposed it. But IMO repeating the USSR’s mistake with Afghanistan (leaving a completely failed state behind) would have been even worse.

    Pottery Barn.

  28. 28
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Oh come on, the FPers step on each other’s threads all the time. If it didn’t happen, I’d be worried.

    On the topic, though – there’s a post at LGF that seems to suggest that people knew about this affair as early as January of this year, based on edits made to Broadwell’s page.

  29. 29
    Zifnab25 says:

    Focusing on the sex is just a nice way to deflect from the deeper corruption here.

    :-p I’d say its the opposite. Without sexytime, Petraeus was Teflon and immune to criticism. About the only reliable chink in the political facade for Republicans these days is their private lives. This revelation was absolutely necessary to make Petraeus’s firing acceptable and not some twisted rehashing of Bush’s DoJ purge (“How could they fire Petreaus when he was doing such a good job?! It must be a conspiracy! Petreaus 2016!”).

  30. 30
    Baud says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Thanks. I have no problem with the discussion or Bernard’s post generally. But this post and the last one seem to be making certain factual claims — some new to me, maybe not to others — about the level of Petraeus’s influence on the direction of Bush/Cheney Iraq policies. He may be completely correct. I just wanted to know what evidence his claims were based on.

  31. 31
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Is that all you got?

  32. 32
    Hill Dweller says:

    Did the affair happen before Petraeus started running the CIA? If so, did he lie during the job interview?

  33. 33
    BGinCHI says:

    The Petraeus apologists can moo all they want now, since he’s resigned and thus taken the wind out of the investigation sails.

    When the FBI is investigating the CIA Director that’s a big fucking deal, no?

    Anyone here inside baseball enough to know how the FBI and CIA are getting along these days?

  34. 34
    Anne Laurie says:

    Thanks for writing about this, Bernard. There’s already a blizzard of celebutainment factoids and spin collecting around Petreaus like chaff, and much of it for the same purpose as the military uses that noun. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as the whole circus train moves down the media tracks!

  35. 35
    Jay S says:

    @erlking: Irrelevant? Pointing out Max Boot is ignorant is never irrelevant.

  36. 36
    mai naem says:

    @cathyx: Every report I’ve heard about Holly Petraeus is that she is very upset at him. Holly Petraeus’ must be a pretty decent woman if she works at the Consumer Bureau protecting soldiers. I’m figuring that Elizabeth Warren was involved in some tangential way in hiring her so that pushes up my respect for her even more.

  37. 37
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @BruceFromOhio: @PsiFighter37:
    I don’t have to agree with the bigfooting, if everyone else is fine with it, but I know AL’s posts seem to get stomped on quite a bit.

    And I’ll just point out that it takes absolutely no time at all to schedule a post for 30 min. later or something. I’ve said the same thing about when others do it as well. Hell, I hate it when Mistermix bigfoots his own damned posts. YMMV.

  38. 38
    dollared says:

    Keep on it Bernard. Fuck these people and the 500,000 dead and $2Trillion wasted. What could we have done with that money? What could those people have done with their lives?

    But Saint David got to be famous, got laid a lot, and got a bunch of medals. There is not a hot enough place in hell for everybody involved in that trade.

  39. 39
    Kilks says:

    Echoing some others here, but this is the part that bugs me.

    Patraeus’ actions in regards the Afghanistan surge are more shameful and incompetent than anything so far revealed about his affair. We should be gone from that country yesterday, but we’re gonna be there till 2014, and he is a reason why.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    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.

    From what I understand, Petraeus was part of the second generation of war-on-terror leadership. The first one being the neocon clique Bush liked (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, the rest of the Pentagon civilian clique, Abizaid at CENTCOM, Casey in the field, Bremer at the CPA, all with Cheney in the background), who thought it would be a cake walk and they could simply walk in, overthrow Saddam, install a friendly regime that would totally be a puppet AND have the support of the Iraqis, and then move on to whatever was next on the list.

    The second one being the less ideological clique that was brought in after the ass-whupping of the 2006 midterms – Gates and his people at the Pentagon, Petraeus, Odierno and McChrystal in the field – who were more into long-term counterinsurgency as a way to fix what the previous people had broken. That’s the outlook that continued to dominate most of the way through Obama’s first term, despite many clashes with the new administration.

    Now that McChrystal, Gates and Petraeus are all out, that generation’s gone as well. Not clear who’s next or what their thing is.

    Does all that about sum it up? Not entirely clear on all the internal politics of the last eleven years.

  41. 41

    HOOOOCOULDANODE that Petraeus could not fail and could only be failed?

  42. 42
    Bernard Finel says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I apologize for that. When I finish a post, I check to make sure nothing has been posted recently. Then I go back and do one more read through. This time the last read through took a little longer than usual and I added a paragraph, which meant I missed Anne’s post.

    I won’t be offended if she re-ups here so that it is above mine.

  43. 43
    mai naem says:

    BTW, I haven’t heard much about Eric Cantor knowing about this end of October. Why did he hold back? Didn’t her care about National Security? Was he holding back because he thought Romney would win and they would let it go because IOKIYRAR. He should be under an ethics investigation but of course he won’t because the Repubs are in charge of the house. Furthermore, he now hold something that the Repubs will beat up the Obama people. FOX was talking about having a Special Prosecutor like Iran Contra and Whitewater.

  44. 44
    Bago says:

    @John: as I said, member placement should be a marginal factor when it come to the head of the CIA using non-secure transmissions. Bradley Manning used more discretion when leaking than this guy. As head of the CIA, you should know how easy it is to get a wiretap, or NSL. This should really enter your head at some point during your 4 am daily run.

    I care more about the fingers on your keyboard than your genitals.

  45. 45
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I completely agree with the notion that sexual activity between consenting adults should be private. That includes fellatio like this:

    ..if we lose the services of such extraordinary public servants..

  46. 46
    Judge Crater says:

    There is also the question of his veracity during the Senate confirmation process and his ongoing security clearance. Obviously, he concealed crucial information about his life that would have disqualified him from the position of Director of the CIA.

    It would be interesting to know what he attested to in his security clearance declarations.

  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    YOU WILL ADMIT THAT THE URGE IS WORKING

  48. 48
    Howard Beale IV says:

    Petraeus may face UCMJ charges should they discover that this dailliance occurred while he was in uniform.

  49. 49
    PeakVT says:

    If not for Petraeus, the whole counter-insurgency, nation-building, prolonged occupation approach might never have take root.

    Well, might is a mighty vague word. Was Petraeus critical, or as with the war itself, were there many factors pushing in the same direction, of which he was just one?

  50. 50
    Roger Moore says:

    @Enhanced Mooching Techniques:
    They’re mostly disappointed that they aren’t the ones who had the goods on him.

  51. 51
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Baud: As somebody else said, the Iraq invasion was stupid and wrong, and I opposed it (as much as a junior NCO could) but when I got mobilized to go to Kuwait, I went. We went into Iraq a few days after the initial invasion.
    I was back in Iraq a little over a year after my unit left the first time.
    In addition to the statements I made here I’ll say that when Petraeus commanded the 101st ABN in Iraq, they were the only people doing COIN, and unlike all the other units that were doing kinetic with a side of passing out water bottles, they were have a lot fewer problems than anyone else.
    I don’t fault him for trying to win. That’s what we are supposed to want Generals to do. And while his op-ed in the Washington Post in 2004 was definitely improper IMO, (and I’ll defer to Bernard about whether it was legal or not) I also don’t fault a successful commander for lobbying his superiors for a chance to prove his theories or doctrines.

  52. 52
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @mai naem: Also I was listening to Fox Talk earlier today. They were talking about Petraeus and how Obama/Holder had to have known about it blah blah blah

    I have no idea how the chain of command/information works from FBI to Justice, but I’d imagine there are some firewalls regarding potentially politically sensitive stuff. But we know Eric Cantor knew about this a couple of days before Halloween, and Eric doesn’t strike me as the type to stoically wait and see about something like this.

    Looking for the NYT story about Cantor getting these revelations more than a week before the elections, I find this gem

    [Petraeus] contributed more to the safety of the United States of America over the last decade than any one single individual,” Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, a Republican and vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said on the ABC program “This Week.”

    Um. Okay. I’ll bite. How?

  53. 53
    General Stuck says:

    It’s another one of those issues that confound republicans as they flop around like beached Carp, sucking oxygen and finding little. They can’t decide if this is a good thing to attack Obama with, or to defend the indefensible that they are famous for.

    I have never in my life exalted a military general, though am quite fond of the fake variety. It is anathema to the mentality of civilians running things, especially the military. I may think they did a good job with this or that generalling project, but that is about it. It is too easy to start viewing these people as politicians blurring the line with the lynchpin of this democracy, an absolute for the biggest baddest general to be outranked by the CiC.

    This shit with this general is a waste product of the mother of all wasted adventures, being Bush’s bloodbath in Iraq. And the media went along with it like some kind of exciting camping trip with big guns and hi tech killing gear. Only later to discover they hadn’t done their jobs, especially in calling out causes for war made by a president. And there was no cause for this war when the smoke settled.

    Then, after years of murder and mayhem, and along comes this shiny new general who probly was a good general, but also one that pushed the envelope a lot with the personality politicking that most generals do in modest amounts, but nothing like Patreus did.

    So the media, and a bunch of those who were feeling guilty and stupid, or at least embarrassed for their support of the Iraq invasion, created a hero, a shining white knight of American purity of spirit and intent, to deliver us from our excesses of all those bodies we left behind for no justifiable reason.

    A fallen superstar, like others in the spotlight pumped up as larger than life. Go ask Tiger Woods what he thinks happened to the general.

  54. 54
    El Cid says:

    Hey, on the bright side, I guess this is proof that the walls between the FBI and CIA have come down a bit more.

  55. 55
    👽 Martin says:

    Aren’t we missing the plot here a bit?

    I thought the accepted viewpoint on Patraeus is that he rose through the ranks due to skillful self-promotion and media handling. Isn’t the problem then that he died by his own weapon here?

    As I understand this, Patraeus likely leaked classified information to Broadwell in the writing of his biography and to further her academic career. The media cannot possibly defend him here. This wasn’t an affair with the cleaning lady, it was an affair with someone who knew the value and utility of the information she was receiving and he was providing it to her. This isn’t really about the affair at all but about him leaking classified information.

    In a just world, he’d be in the cell next to Bradley Manning by this time next week. Ignore the sex part – that was just a catalyst to the real crime (as it so often is, and why the spooks worry about affairs so much).

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Um. Okay. I’ll bite. How?

    Sheer awesomeness. He didn’t actually have to do anything to contribute to the safety of the country, any more than Romney was going to have to do anything to summon the confidence fairy. Their sheer presence and animal vitality is enough to do the job.

  57. 57
    amk says:

    wtf?

    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.

    Isn’t adultery strictly illegal under US military law ?

  58. 58
    Bernard Finel says:

    @Baud: This is a tough issue. Bush was a stubborn sonofabitch, so he was clearly primed to glom onto any line of argumentation that would prevent him from having to withdraw under duress. Which means Petraeus’ arguments were falling on fertile soil. Had Petraeus not been around, would someone else have come up to give Bush his tough-guy fix about “staying the course”? Probably. I guess I am not arguing so much that absent Petraeus everything would have been different, but rather that as it turned out he was a key played in a decade of conflict.

    That said, not everyone would have been as savvy and ruthless in promoting his views and suppressing dissent. And I speak here from personal experience as a small, but relatively well-placed cog in this whole process. I’ve literally never seen anything like it in national security debates. Petraeus developed a well-oiled machine that was uniquely capable in driving the public debate, co-opting potential allies, and marginalizing those of us who tried to raise concerns.

    That said, the 2009 Afghan decision, in which the military literally refused to staff out an alternative to the massive escalation even when the President request such an alternative was just grotesque. It didn’t help that Gates didn’t have the President’s back or that Mullen was generally ineffectual, but again it was Petraeus who essentially made the development of an alternative plan impossible. Woodward book details this quite nicely.

  59. 59
    Comrade Jake says:

    It seems the General has problems pulling out.

  60. 60
    Joseph Nobles says:

    I’ve already seen a serious argument that Obama knew and promoted Petraeus just so he’d have this for squid ink. And Benghazi was the right moment. So there’s that.

  61. 61
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Chris:

    he second one being the less ideological clique that was brought in after the ass-whupping of the 2006 midterms – Gates and his people at the Pentagon, Petraeus, Odierno and McChrystal in the field – who were more into long-term counterinsurgency as a way to fix what the previous people had broken. That’s the outlook that continued to dominate most of the way through Obama’s first term, despite many clashes with the new administration.

    Now that McChrystal, Gates and Petraeus are all out, that generation’s gone as well. Not clear who’s next or what their thing is.

    By the time the COIN guys got into positions of power, it was most likely too late to matter in Iraq. And I’ll note that these guys are gone due to things that have nothing to with the doctrine they were supporting.
    The COIN doctrine is not discredited as a doctrine, per se. It is discredited as something the US military can do competently. It requires a long term political commitment, which democracies are not particularly good at, and a major de-emphasis of the use of firepower, which is diametrically opposed to the way our armed forces were then and are (mostly) currently organized.

    @PeakVT:
    As far as Bernard’s assertion that

    If not for Petraeus, the whole counter-insurgency, nation-building, prolonged occupation approach might never have take root.

    Petraeus was NOT the only one. H. R. McMaster and other officers proved that they could read history books and doctrine manuals just as well as anybody else.

    Warning–the link for McMaster leads to the wikipedia page, and it reads like the kind of thing Petraeus’ biographer was writing about HIM.

  62. 62
    Schlemizel says:

    Wouldn’t these douchebags be smart to . . . I need a second to stop laughing trying to envision these clowns as smart . . . shut up and see where this is going first?

    What if the reason DP4 quit was in hopes of cutting off the investigation before it gets to the real crime?

  63. 63
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Roger Moore: It’s not worth explaining, but the source of my blog-nym is the moment when Petraeus admitted to John Warner that the Iraq War had done nothing to make the USA safer from foreign attack. Then after lunch he recanted.

  64. 64
    Baud says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    I appreciate the explanation. Thanks.

  65. 65
    cathyx says:

    If you read the bio on this woman, she is very accomplished and driven. Not sure she had any time for her children but what a waste to throw away everything she’s worked for by embarrassing herself this way.

  66. 66
    Maude says:

    The Afghan Surge is over. The Surge troops have been withdrawn. The big equipment has been leave all year long.
    The FBI didn’t investigate an affair. It was about email threats and Petraeus’s computer might have been compromised.
    Petraeus resigned because he got caught.
    The Repubs are doing what the Dems have done about Clinton’s affair. It was only sex and so on.

  67. 67
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @amk: Indeed it is per the UCMJ. The question is whether the statute of limitations under the UCMJ is in effect.

  68. 68
    Soonergrunt says:

    @amk: It is, but the Army would have to recall him to active duty to Court-Martial him. And while it has done that in the not-too-distant past, even to a General Officer, it would be extremely unlikely in this case, even if evidence existed to support such a charge and specification.

  69. 69
    TG Chicago says:

    I was getting sick flipping around the Sunday shows listening to Petraeus’ affair being called a “tragedy”. Constantly and consistently , it was “Well, this is clearly a tragedy…”

    Why on earth would you use the word “tragedy” to describe this?

  70. 70
    JWL says:

    “He used government resources to promote himself personally and to leverage that popularity in order to back elected officials into a corner in order…”.

    You’ve got it backwards.

    Patraeus was a creation of the GOP (i.e., those “elected officials”), the military-industrial complex in general, and lastly their media bagmen (and women). He was a willing and useful tool, but hardly the diabolically clever American Caesar-in-waiting that some consider him.

  71. 71
    WaynersT says:

    Boy you should check out David Gergen on Wolf Blitzer today – he was practically apoplectic. He and Townsend were calling to investigate the FBI. Suddenly so concerned with privacy rights, ha!

  72. 72
    AA+ Bonds says:

    .
    .
    Big shit going down at Fox Nation! Went there today and grabbed this luscious screencap.

    Looks like Fox Nation may be going the way of the dodo post-election – and following the year-long debacle where FoxNews.com eliminated comments sections entirely to avoid the nonstop flow of vicious racism.

    Loyal FoxNews.com readers are told that they will “[e]arn points toward gaining special privileges on the site”. Exciting stuff ahead!

  73. 73
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @El Cid:

    YOU WILL ADMIT THAT THE URGE IS WORKING

    Petraeus demonstrates the application of COIN doctrine on the domestic front: COunter InTelligence United States.

  74. 74
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    I was talking with my tongue pushed only a short distance into my cheek. I think that a lot of people on the right really care a lot more about talk than action. Bush was a great leader because he talked tough. Romney would lead the economy out of recession because he knows how to talk like a business guy. It doesn’t matter if Petraeus actually did anything; he made the country safe because he talked a good game about COIN.

  75. 75
    AA+ Bonds says:

    <block@Soonergrunt:

    And I’ll note that these guys are gone due to things that have nothing to with the doctrine they were supporting. The COIN doctrine is not discredited as a doctrine, per se. It is discredited as something the US military can do competently. It requires a long term political commitment, which democracies are not particularly good at, and a major de-emphasis of the use of firepower, which is diametrically opposed to the way our armed forces were then and are (mostly) currently organized.

    I happen to agree, but how does it not discredit COIN as a doctrine if democracies (us) can’t carry it out? Exactly who are we crafting strategy for?

  76. 76
    Roger Moore says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Why on earth would you use the word “tragedy” to describe this?

    This is closer to the Greek idea of a tragedy- a great man inevitably brought low by his personality flaws- than most stuff that gets sold that way.

  77. 77
    AA+ Bonds says:

    .
    .
    BREAKING ELECTION NEWS: PENNSYLVANIA STILL IN PLAY FOR ROMNEY

    Pa. officials plan no probe despite extraordinary turnout, totals for Obama in Philly

    “I don’t find it hard to believe that there are neighborhoods in the United States where President Obama got 97 to 99 percent of the vote — basically all African-Americans,” said Michael Barone, a Fox News contributor who is the longtime editor of The Almanac of American Politics. “There are such neighborhoods, and you can see them in central-city, black ghetto (areas).”

  78. 78
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    I happen to agree, but how does it not discredit COIN as a doctrine if democracies (us) can’t carry it out? Exactly who are we crafting strategy for?

    A very good question.

    From a practical standpoint our democracy can probably wage a long term COIN campaign if it has bipartisan support and the body count stays low enough to keep it out of the mainstream news media. COIN failed in Iraq because it never met the second criteria from the get-go, and was squishy on the first. But a campaign which was waged using COIN from the very beginning with the tacit approval of both parties could probably be sustained for a prolonged period of time, at least until such time as our adversaries figure out a way to get it into the American news in a bad way. Obama’s current AfPak drone campaign fits this template faily well.

    Not a healthy way for a democracy to behave, but then we aren’t really a healthy democracy when it comes to these things.

  79. 79
    Soonergrunt says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    I happen to agree, but how does it not discredit COIN as a doctrine if democracies (us) can’t carry it out? Exactly who are we crafting strategy for?

    An excellent point, Sir.
    And I’d try to come up with some flippant answer about other countries, or that it could work for us under certain circumstances, but I really don’t believe that.
    COIN is not something that democracies like ours, subject to radical shifts in policy in relatively short time windows, can accomplish. Those democracies that have done COIN well were able to do it because their politics are much more homogenized, like the French or the British, both of whom conducted long term, more or less successful COIN campaigns.
    Conversely, rigid states like the Soviet Union suck even more at COIN because they don’t allow their armed forces the institutional mental agility required of a COIN campaign. An army that does not allow officers below battalion level to call for and use artillery, air support, and other supporting arms cannot operate coherently in a COIN environment.

  80. 80
    sharl says:

    Bernard, this and your previous post, along with input in comments – especially Soonergrunt’s – are greatly appreciated. Thanks for posting.

  81. 81
    PeakVT says:

    @Soonergrunt: Thanks.

  82. 82
    MazeDancer says:

    @Zam:

    Don’t forget that if he was considered a democrat we would already be holding treason hearings against him.

    So true. And I had forgotten. Probably because of unhappiness that the unzipped pants had stopped the “OBAMA WON! MAD MEN ERA GOP ON WAY TO EXTINCTION” coverage.

    Still, the Repubs are trying hard to get their big Benghazi shot. Comparing this to Iran Contra and Watergate and how huge joint session inquiries are needed.

    If it turns out to be David Petraeus intelligence failure and he resigned now because he’d have to resign later, the GOP will definitely forget the General was GOP.

    @Bernard,

    was unaware of the anti-Petraeus POV you’ve been presenting. Always good to hear many sides of a situation, so don’t stop.

  83. 83
    Suffern ACE says:

    @amk: lol. And we’re now defining the past as two years ago. Like something that happened in college.

  84. 84
    Suffern ACE says:

    @WaynersT: I wonder if David himself hasn’t been the jilted biographer of someone at some point.

  85. 85
    max says:

    @Soonergrunt: The original plan that was publicly talked about (I still don’t think it was the real one) was to get into Iraq, tear shit up, emplace a friendly government, and leave as quickly as possible.

    Compared to the alternative, that would’ve been a good plan. But that wasn’t the plan as far as I could determine – the plan seemed to be to invade Syria. (Recall Rumsfeld having units conducting ‘exercises’ along the Syrian border, August 2003, even while the units in Iraq were reaching the bottom of the barrel of the supplies they were originally allocated.)

    The amount of magical thinking that entails is fucking staggering to the point that I don’t believe it was the real plan. I think it was something that was sold to the public to lessen the impact.

    Well, again, they provided for about 180 days of supply in Iraq… and then did nothing to tack on extra support until it was obvious we wouldn’t be leaving and we didn’t have the needed supplies to stay. So I think that was the plan: we would be greeted with flowers and then we’d head to invade some other country. That didn’t work out.

    I think their real plan, as evidenced by all the infrastructure they had put in the country, and the size of the embassy and everything else was to use Iraq and its friendly government as a base of operations from which to attack other countries in the middle east as needed.

    Well, yes, but it appears the entire building plan was originally predicated on the existence of a ‘pro-American’ government. ‘Pro-American’ doesn’t mean democracy, it means Ahmed Chalabi and a puppet state that would back us to the hilt. Of course, even if Chalabi has been able to establish himself as autocrat of Iraq, eagerly embraced by Iraqis, September of 2003 still would have been too soon to leave, simply because no government could be up and running in six months.

    Impracticality piled on surrealism, that lot.

    max
    [‘All that said, leaving behind a disaster area would have been better than the alternative.’]

  86. 86
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    I’ve already seen a serious argument that Obama knew and promoted Petraeus just so he’d have this for squid ink. And Benghazi was the right moment. So there’s that.

    That’s 12 dimensional chess. Not willing to believe it without evidence.

  87. 87
    amk says:

    @Soonergrunt: @Suffern ACE: The way the guy blithely spinning it as no bfd is sickening. The rw is pretty good in upisdownism.

  88. 88
    fuckwit says:

    I think the official timeline is BS.

    I think there was a long-standing, explicitly-stated rule in the Obama Administration: you serve at my sufferance, and I will not suffer my employees turning their offices into sleazy sex clubs. You will keep your dicks in your pants.

    I think Obama sets a high standard for personal conduct, and I think he expects it of everyone who works for him. And I think Petraeus– and everyone else on the WH payroll– knew that up front. Fuck around, and you’re out.

    I also think he was forced to violate his own rule and cut a deal with Petraeus to let him stay on until after the election, as an act of mercy as well as self-preservation (could you imagine what the Rethugs would have done to Petraeus in order to try to smear Obama by association??! General or not, of course they would have turned on him!).

    I also think that he got the news MUCH earlier, say, the night before the first debate. I think something really shook him before that debate, got him off his stride. At first I thought it was something personal, then I thought maybe something top-secret (news from Syria or what not), and then that he just didn’t prepare enough, but now that this has come out, my personal conspiracy theory is that he knew, and it really shook him, shook his faith, and that he made a decision to let Petraeus stay until Nov 8th that was a compromise he did not want to make. I think he really believed in Petraeus, respected him. And that’s gone now.

  89. 89
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Schlemizel:

    What if the reason DP4 quit was in hopes of cutting off the investigation before it gets to the real crime?

    You wouldn’t be thinking that Petraeus was using Broadwell to leak information, would you?

  90. 90
    Corner Stone says:

    @fuckwit: This is so sad.

  91. 91
    Corner Stone says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): She reminds me of a brunette Ann Coulter. Her mannerisms and bullshit.

  92. 92
    Corner Stone says:

    Paula Broadwell spooks me the fuck out. I like sex and all but I would not want to always feel like Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights when he finds that pistol under the pillow.
    I’ve been in a spot with someone I knew I shouldn’t. And it was fun like…twice.
    From then on it was more like masochism.

  93. 93
    gvg says:

    “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.”

    I completely disagree with this and remember that time very differently plus I would say it was impossible for Bush to pull out then and when reeelction. He IMO clearly did expect a cakewalk before he went in. the reason I say this is how poorly he planned and the fact he blew up many of the decades long Republican political advantages on things like being percieved as tough, competant and better on foreign policy and war than Democrats. There is no possible way he did that on purpose, he and his advisors have to have believed the smoke he blew at us (well most of it). I think he thought it would be easy partly because his dad made Kuwait look easy even though that actualy had a lot of planning and his dad had decades of real world experience and many more international contacts to call up.

    The Bush led government HAD to find a way to WIN and must have been looking desperately. Somebody was going to provide a plan to be hyped. That P’s idea was apparently just sold very well to us….well that just means it was more under Bush’s control. Somehow I’m not surprised. It seems sort of typical and they may have been just as fooled as the media and most of us because in someways they were and are very gullible.

  94. 94
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Bernard Finel, top: I think you might get a kick out of this:
    Petraeus ghostwriter ‘clueless’ to affair.

    And for the record, I agree with a LOT of what you said here and in the previous post, some commenters flawed readings of me notwithstanding. It is in the details that I seek clarity or have mild disagreement.

  95. 95
    Arclite says:

    Spencer Ackerman has a pretty good mea culpa here.

  96. 96
    Corner Stone says:

    @gvg:

    The Bush led government HAD to find a way to WIN and must have been looking desperately.

    They didn’t give a shit about “winning”. They wanted more than anything to a)loot shit and reward cronies and b)use it to mercilessly beat domestic opposition about the head and shoulders.
    The COIN strategies were the most transparent farce of the whole era. This was obvious in real time to anyone who wanted to see it.

  97. 97
    Soonergrunt says:

    @amk: Well, it’s a VERY big deal. It doesn’t matter that it’s not illegal. Top positions like D/CIA are obtained and held primarily on the reputation of the office-holder as a person of integrity and judgement. This episode fairly calls into question both of those traits for Petraeus. No matter how competent he is, and David Petraeus is nothing if not competent, there would always be those nagging questions about him.

  98. 98
    JPL says:

    @fuckwit: Turkey was pretty close to going to war with Syria the night before the first debate. That to me was more important than who Petraeus was screwing..

  99. 99
    Maude says:

    The Iraq plan was for three months. Invade, replace the Iraq government and secure the oil fields.

  100. 100
    catclub says:

    @BruceFromOhio: “Hasta luega, hombre.”

    Maybe, maybe not. Ollie North ran for Senate in Virginia, did he not? He lost, but probably got over 40% of the vote. Petraeus has far greater stature.

  101. 101
    amk says:

    @Soonergrunt: Well, one thing is for sure. The repubs’ wet dream of him being a preznint in future is gonna be just that. Personally, I found him to be a snaky character.

  102. 102
    sharl says:

    @Soonergrunt: Ah, yes, Vernon Loeb, who along with fellow WaPo scribe ‘Steno Sue’ Schmidt brought us those riveting – and totally bogus – heroic adventures of Private Jessica Lynch.
    Of course he was “clueless”; that’s how he rolls!

    And adding to Arclite @95, Spencer Ackerman popped up on PRI’s The World, to briefly discuss L’Affaire Petraeus. That boy is getting around…

  103. 103
    WaynersT says:

    Good Lord – now they’re reporting the original FBI agent was sending the second chick shirtless pictures of himself and got pulled from the case.

    This is sounding more and more like a sequel to Burn After Reading….

  104. 104
    Chris says:

    @MazeDancer:

    If it turns out to be David Petraeus intelligence failure and he resigned now because he’d have to resign later, the GOP will definitely forget the General was GOP.

    Not necessarily. According to my Facebook Wingnut Barometer (whom I should really unfriend, but what the hell) from a couple days ago, she thinks an investigation “if done correctly (not like the Holder fiasco)” would reveal that the State Department fucked up; she’s not sure if the CIA did; and she thinks the CIA will be scapegoated for what happens.

    I could see that being the story they go with, that there was dirty work that was all the fault of Obama and a few other faggy bureaucrats like the people at Foggy Bottom, but that brave and noble Petraeus was a sacrificial lamb who took the rap for their crimes. It’s what they want to believe, and the more stuff is classified, the more they’ll believe it.

  105. 105
    Kilks says:

    @WaynersT: Link for this, http://online.wsj.com/article/.....hare_tweet

    This is really getting ridiculous. The Anthony Weiner jokes are flying like mad on the twitter.

  106. 106
    Wolfdaughter says:

    I and a lot of others on this board were suspicious of the “success” of the Surge in Iraq back in 06. Remember how we called him General “Betrayus”?

  107. 107
    Tokyokie says:

    @Soonergrunt: Well, if discretion is the better part of valor, it would seem that Petraeus had neither. D/CIA strikes me as a position for which two character traits are paramount: discretion, and the political independence to render intelligence analysis without bias. Everything else is window dressing. And it would appear that Petraeus is utterly devoid of the former and that there is no evidence in the record to indicate he possessed much of the latter.

  108. 108
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @WaynersT:

    My working theory: Kelley, after she’s been harassed, goes to soon-to-be-shirtless friend in the FBI with original complaint. FBI counter-intel took over in order to see if there was leaking involved, dumping shirtless douchebag when it’s convenient. Counter-intel sets a trap or two- possibly with an assist from the career guys at CIA- handing false intel about the three captive militiamen to Petraeus in order to see if it moved, and how and where that movement occurred.

    In the meantime, shirtless douchebag thinks the entire case has been dropped to cover for the administration (after seeing Broadwell talking about Petraeus and the intel she divulged in Denver) and brings it to a friendly Republican congressman, who kicks it up to Cantor. Cantor calls the FBI. The FBI responds that if he doesn’t want to end up in jail for hindering the investigation- an investigation pertaining to security at the upper levels of the intel community- he’d better STFU…NOW!

  109. 109

    BTW Maddow just broke rumors of John Kerry for Sec. of Defense. (Not State).

    Scott Brown… It Lives!

  110. 110
    Tokyokie says:

    @catclub: But Ollie could claim, with sufficient credibility for right-wingers, to have been doing what he did (felonious conduct that was overturned on appeal because of the deal with congressional investigators) to further the great vision of St. Ronnie. Petraeus can make no such claim for his diddling of his hagiographer.

  111. 111
    rikyrah says:

    @Enhanced Mooching Techniques:

    Grrr the freaking head of the gosh darn CIA was knowingly doing and act that left him exposed to black mail Why is it so hard for these media twats to understand that??

    simple to me, too.

  112. 112
    Valdivia says:

    https://twitter.com/blakehounshell

    if you read his feed you will see a link to the WSJ where it is disclosed that the original FBI guy was lusting for the Kelley woman and was inappropriate and kept away from the investigation. Which is why he went to Cantor when he couldn’t get more info on what was happening.

    ETA: I see someone already linked to it.

  113. 113
    Librarian says:

    What I want to know is, how was Petraeus in bed?

  114. 114
    Jason says:

    Ok, I can think of at least three offenses right off the bat:

    Is Petraus in fact guilty of committing adultery and fraternization under USCMJ? Paula Broadwell is described as serving as an “embedded author” during her time in Afghanistan. But Broadwell was not a typical journalist — she was a former US Army officer and current (I understand) Army reserve intelligence officer, with a long career in the Bush-era counterterrorism establishment including a stint at SOCOM. So was Broadwell an officer under Petraus’s command? The timing is irrelevant, because, I understand, both Petraus and Broadwell stay subject to USCMJ even if they re-enter civilian life.

    From the Politico story:

    “I was embedded with Gen. Petraeus in Afghanistan and it was a little confusing for some of the folks there because I’m also a military reservist with a top secret/SCI clearance and then some. So, a lot of my former peers didn’t know how to treat me. Was I journalist Broadwell or was I Major Broadwell?” she recalled. “I had to follow very clear lines of non-disclosure and signed non-disclosure agreements like my colleagues. I felt like I was almost held to a higher level of accountability because I could lose my clearance.”

    Second offense: Did Petraus fail to disclose the affair to CIA vetting? If Broadwell has unsavory ties and Petraus did not inform the CIA of the security risk — there are the usual rumors of Broadwell having links to Mossad and AIPAC (which is of course just Mossad’s American subsidiary) — Petraus is in deep shit.

    Third offense: Petraus using an unsecured Gmail account through which passed classified information — and, worse, as alleged, letting his mistress hack it — is a firing offense right there. Let alone what he’s disclosed to his mistress as pillow talk. There are people rotting in Fort Levenworth for lesser security breaches.

  115. 115
    Jason says:

    @Zam:
    Don’t forget that if he was considered a democrat we would already be holding treason hearings against him.

    Don’t worry. The Republicans are doing their very best to transform Petraeus into a Democrat right now. The have to somehow unremember the fact that he was Bush’s nomination for CENTCOM commander and rose through the ranks during Bush’s term, but they’ll manage it.

  116. 116
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Jason: The timing does matter because if they didn’t have a sexual relationship while he was in the military, it doesn’t matter. If they did when he was in the military, it’s simple adultery under the UCMJ, unless she did her reserve Annual Training (two-weeks ‘summer camp’) or her UTAs (monthly weekends) at any time during that.
    Simply, adultery would be a slam dunk if he was on active duty, but fraternization would be probably difficult unless they could show that she got something out of it like early promotion or some such because she was a reservist. If she was also active duty at the time, then it would be pretty much a slam dunk for that too.

  117. 117
    Jason says:

    @Soonergrunt: Sorry, I was referring to the adultery charge. I understand the timing does matter for the fraternization charge. The vagueness of Broadwell’s status while “embedded” inwith Petraeus (by her own account she was allowed to attend classified briefings) makes things complicated.

  118. 118
    TG Chicago says:

    @Roger Moore: I don’t think that’s how they meant it, but a good point nonetheless. Thanks.

  119. 119
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Jason: Apparently, she used her TS/SCI clearance from her reserve status to stay in classified briefings. which I think is wrong because it violates the principle of Need To Know.
    Doesn’t matter really. Both of them are about to (if they haven’t already) loose their clearances.

  120. 120
    mclaren says:

    Insightful post, as usual, Bernard. David Petraeus is a truly veonomous insect. People tend to forget that it was Petraeus who leaked that pessimistic report behind President Obama’s back and then orchestrated the delivery of a set of military plans for escalating military involvement in Afghanistan when Obama had explicitly asked for military plans for disengaging from Afghanistan.

    Petraeus reportedly remarked about Obama that when Obama tried to get American forces to withdraw from Afghanistan, “He’s fucking with the wrong guy.” Earlier, in 2007, then-Senator Hillary Clinton told General Petraeus during his testimony on the Iraq war to the senate that Petraeus’s progress report on the Iraq war “required a willing suspension of disbelief.”

    In short, Petraeus lied to the senate, committed gross insubordination by ignoring a direct presidential order to ramp down U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, and (as Juan Cole points out) Petraeus’ COIN strategy has been an unqualified disaster in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In short, General David Petraeus is an incompetent liar who has failed at every military mission with which he has been tasked. Why this inept liar was given command of the CIA remains a mystery. Obama should have court-martialed the guy the moment he found out that Petraeus remarked about the president’s order to draw up plans for U.S. military disengagement in Afghanistan in 2009, “We pretty much ignored that memo.”

  121. 121
    Groucho48 says:

    This thread has been way too decorous.

    precisely because she was able and willing to burnish his public image.

    It was more than his public image she was burnishing.

    /rimshot

  122. 122
    Xenos says:

    @TG Chicago:

    I was getting sick flipping around the Sunday shows listening to Petraeus’ affair being called a “tragedy”. Constantly and consistently , it was “Well, this is clearly a tragedy…”
    Why on earth would you use the word “tragedy” to describe this?

    Formally it is a tragedy – successful warrior/politician felled by his hubris, fate working inexorably to bring his downfall, and so on.

  123. 123
    Jason says:

    @Xenos: Successful warrior? Al-Maliki is currently a puppet of Iran and in case you didn’t notice, the Taliban has so completely infiltrated the Afghan National Army that there probably won’t even be a fight before they take over control in Afghanistan when the US eventually withdraws. By strict logical definition, shouldn’t you have to win the war to be “successful?”

    Or do you mean just successful in climbing the greasy pole? In that case, Broadwell was even better at that, right?

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jason:

    By strict logical definition, shouldn’t you have to win the war to be “successful?”

    Not necessarily. Xenos is bringing in the Classical (as in Classical Greek) definition of “tragedy.”

    ETA: Going by Wikipedia, Petraeus would be one of Euripides’ heroes:

    The hero described in his tragedies is no longer the resolute character of the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, but often a difficult and insecure person, not without internal conflicts.

  125. 125
    Tim I says:

    In terms of General Petraeus, there are dozens of reporters who did exactly what Broadwell did. Many of them will get Pulitzers for their efforts to buff the great mans medals. They will all be quick to turn on her without a thought as to how much they stroked the great man’s virility.

    They are all the same. I will not describe them further because we lack gender neutral terms to describe this activity.

  126. 126
    sherparick says:

    @Soonergrunt: Although I agree somewhat with Bernard’s point about Petraeus’s misuse of Ms. Broadwell for his personal promotion, I think he overexaggerates Petraeus’s role in the tragedies of our time. Bush and Cheney, and on the outside O’Hanlon, Boot, Ricks (once we invaded), etc. were all in for an indefinite occupation of Iraq in 2004-07. In Petraeus they found the “General” who could sell it as opposed to the fiascos that Sanchez and Casey had presided over. He was more their instrument then they were his. Further, for whatever else that can be said about it, the fighthing and political changes in Iraq during 2007-09 allowed the United States to leave with a semi-stable Iraq (although emphasis should be put on the “semi” part).

    President Obama ran in 2007-08 stating he would emphasize the war in Afghanistan while disengaging from Iraq. Whether that idea was good or bad, Obama was already predispostion to escalate the war in Iraq to at least creat the same kind of “semi-stability” in Afghanistan that was created in Iraq as the U.S. withdrew.

    As for the corruption of military-civil relations, I think the criticism is appropriate (or else it would get worse), but it is endemic in U.S. political life in times of war or near war. In Petraeus’s case, he has not been worse than Colin Powell, and certainly has not approached the arrogance of Curtis LeMay, Douglas McArthur, Leonard Wood, or George McClellan (at least Petraeus apparently left the President of United States sitting in his parlour).

  127. 127
    sherparick says:

    There has been a show on “Lifetime” the last six years called “Army Wives” and this whole story seems now to have walked off the script writers pages.

  128. 128
    sherparick says:

    @Jason: As you might have noticed during the last election cycle, Republcans have completely forgotten that George W. Bush was President from January 2001 to January 2009, and all their votes for wars, civil liberties curtailments, and expanded Government spending.

    By the way, I don’t know if this has been addressed in some other thread, but one the ironical things that struck me about the episode is how given all that expanded power to the FBI to snoop into private e-mail accounts has come back to blow up on people (including the two persons who started the whole investigation, Jo Kelly and her FBI friend.) Now suddenly, all these conservative commentators who for years pooh-poohed the idea that this power woudl be abused are shocked, shocked, that the an FBI agent doing a favor for a personal friend could snoop into the private e-mails of Broadwell and Petraeus.

    This is one way to bring the U.S. Post Office back into fashion since one lesson for us all is that if you want to carry out a “dangerous liaison” you might want avoid e-mail and texting.

  129. 129
    Emdee says:

    I heard a brief portion of a book interview Ricks gave on “Fresh Air” a week or so ago. HIs new book, “The Generals” (or something like that), was inspired by exactly these kinds of scandals, he said. He mentioned a WWII general who did his job right but was still fired because he could have done it better, but that all the yahoos in charge now stay in power no matter how bad they fuck it up unless they have a sex scandal.

    And now, just a few weeks after the book came out, he has this to deal with. I think it’s causing him a bit of panic.

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    […] Bernard Finel touches on that point in his comments about the entire Petraeus-Broadwell relationship, which he points out is about a lot more than just sex: It wasn’t a private affair. Broadwell wasn’t some random family friend. She was his de factoofficial 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. […]

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  1. […] Bernard Finel touches on that point in his comments about the entire Petraeus-Broadwell relationship, which he points out is about a lot more than just sex: It wasn’t a private affair. Broadwell wasn’t some random family friend. She was his de factoofficial 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. […]

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