Saturday, November 24, 2012

Failing, Heroically

David Petraeus' executive officer, retired Colonel Peter Mansoor, was referring to Paula Broadwell when he said "In Iraq, General Petraeus was adamant that he didn't want reporters embedded within his headquarters in any way.   What troubles me is why he decided to change his own guidance and allow her unfettered and lengthy access."

The answer to that is embedded in the word "embedded."I think we all know why, the answer fittingly embedded in the word "embedded."

Or maybe not, because General Petraeus was not motivated exclusively by his hormones.   Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post has written

Since his first combat tour in Iraq in 2003, Petraeus had cultivated a cadre of a few dozen loyal staff officers, many of whom had doctoral degrees from top universities and taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Usually, he personally selected these men and women to serve on his staff.

In Afghanistan, the retinue grew as people drawn to his fame and eager to launch their own careers took up positions for him in Kabul. “He didn’t seek out these people, but he also didn’t turn them away,” said an officer who spent 40 months working for Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.

Some of Petraeus’s staff officers said he and the American mission in Afghanistan benefited from the broader array of viewpoints, but others complained that the outsiders were a distraction, the price of his growing fame.

Apparently, the General needed a posse, for we learn from the Daily Beast

The sisters are also believed to have attended the farewell party for Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the former British ambassador to the U.S., in Washington last year. Peter King, a Republican congressman for New York who was at the event, told CNN yesterday that he had met Kelley at “one or two events at the British embassy.” An embassy spokesman declined to check, saying that it would take too much time.

Kelley, a mother of three and an unpaid “social liaison” for the U.S. military in Tampa, is said to have spared no expense at such parties to honor top brass stationed at nearby U.S. Central Command. She was pictured at one event at her $1.2 million mansion in 2010 with General Petraeus, who arrived in a 28-man police motorcycle escort.

There is no word yet whether congressional Republicans will target extravagance by military officers as part of their assault on the evil deficit.    Nor do we know if the Washington establishment will connect the dots on the portrait of the now-disgraced General who in his dissertation at Princeton University in 1987 wrote "What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters- more than what actually occurred."    Michael Hastings explains

There’s his war record in Iraq, starting when he headed up the Iraqi security force training program in 2004. He’s more or less skated on that, including all the weapons he lost, the insane corruption, and the fact that he essentially armed and trained what later became known as “Iraqi death squads.” On his final Iraq tour, during the so-called "surge," he pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.

The establishment included the Brookings Institution's Micheal E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, who wrote of the war in Iraq "Today, morale is high.  The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results; and they feel they now have the numbers needed to make a real difference."

That was over five years ago, but the General is still bamboozling opinion makers.  Following the resignation of the guy who presided over defeat in Iraq, defeat in Afghanistan, and an intelligence scandal pertaining to Benghazi, USA Today editorialized "David Petraeus made a doozy of a mistake, one that cost him his job and tarnished his sterling reputation. But if the frenzy passes without further surprises, he can drive on to new pathways and continue to be of service to his country."

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