General Petraeus and Moral High Ground

After returning from Iraq in 2009, General David Petraeus was a real hero of mine.  Old Devil Six, himself.  I recall the story of him, many years previous to 2009, being hospitalized after being shot during a live fire exercise.  The details are fuzzy now but he spent a short amount of time in the hospital; and, upon getting up from the bed and removing the machines’ tentacles from his body, he was told by a nurse that he hadn’t reached the average recovery time to be discharged.  “I’m not the average soldier,” he replied.

And he’s not!  I remember thinking as a young sergeant, I would follow Petraeus into hell.  So it was with great disappointment that… I don’t even want to think about it.  I know – people are fallible and they make mistakes.  But Petraeus was widely considered to have been a darkhorse presidential candidate and is rumored to be a Republican (although he’s outwardly extremely apolitical and hasn’t voted since 2002 to be non-partisan).  If his strategies could turn Iraq, then he can fix America, I thought.  The guy – up to this point and in his public life – has been a consummate professional.

I’ve heard many accusing Obama of “targeting” conservative military leaders, among other conspiracy theories.  But it’s not that it’s an impossible or unlikely assumption, it’s that the assumption is just that: conjecture.

So here’s what I believe, courtesy of the ole 96 Bravo intuition.  Petraeus was going to offer Congressional testimony on what happened in Benghazi and, the Obama administration not wanting to have its true colors shown to and flayed by the American people, Petraeus simply outgrew his usefulness and became a liability.

Is Dave’s public career ruined?  Yes.  Will he be relegated to the halls of think tanks and policy centers?  Probably.

Here’s what we can learn from this.  Leaders of men, just like leaders of troops, must live their lives beyond reproach to achieve maximum efficacy.

As we take a look back on another personal hero of mine, Thomas Jefferson, we see that he did tremendous work for the Republic but contemporary criticism is the was a slave owner and fathered illegitimate children.  He laid the framework for freedom while denying others their and that’s left a stain on his legacy from the eyes of others.  George Washington is another figure we love to idolize but he also denied freedom to his slaves in his lifetime.

A thought I’ll leave you with: if you fashion yourself a leader of men, a leader in the III community, or merely a leader of your family, take and keep the moral high ground.  Petraeus was full of potential and his future dreams are dashed due to his impropriety.

UPDATE: Petraeus will end up testifying in Congress over Benghazi.  Perhaps he has some courage left.  I hope he lets this administration have it.


  1. I’ve always found it a bit interesting that men expect their leaders to be perfect and beyond reproach, yet not one of us can say the same of ourselves.

    It’s human nature to have hero worship and be disappointed when we find out that they are less than perfect. I stopped viewing people like that a long time ago. I like Ron Paul, but there are a few things I completely disagree with him on. He’s a great guy, but only human.

    Look at it from under the prism of Rightful Liberty. Ask yourself if something someone did affects you in any way, and is it any of your business. If the answer is no, then ignore it.

    Heck, I’m not perfect. But something I may have done 20 years ago has no bearing on the man I am now. I imagine if we were to be judged under the same light of scrutiny, that some of us would be found a bit wanting.

    Have you ever told a lie. Ever. In your entire life? Can most of us honestly say we haven’t?

    Have you ever done something, maybe when you were younger, that you weren’t proud of, ever? Can most of us honestly say we haven’t?

    Have you ever broken a girl’s heart who loved you, because you were more interested in another girl, for whatever reason? Can most of us honestly say we haven’t?

    If you are religious, did you save yourselves for your spouse, or did you have pre-marital sex somewhere along the line? (This applies to both men and women.) Can most of us honestly say we haven’t?

    We are largely a nation of hypocrites who expect our leaders to be the best of us, and better than us, and then we damn them when, surprise, surprise, they end up being human.

    We’d all be wise to keep this in mind in regards to our heroes and leaders.

    Yes, strive to be as beyond reproach as ye can be, but forgive others when they are not. One thing I know is that if we insist in on having ‘perfect’ leaders, we won’t have very many at all.

    • Partisan says:

      We all know that no one’s perfect. My point is that leaders in the III movement and leaders in our own families should be as perfect as possible. The consequence is that we lose the moral high ground and we lose our moral authority, which can harm our ability to be effective leaders and resist tyranny.

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