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.