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David Petraeus’ Other Seduction

Memo Pad

David Petraeus’ Other Seduction


We Americans are easily titillated by the suggestion of sexual scandal, so it’s no surprise that the news media have been obsessed with the escapades of David Petraeus and those in his inner circle. But the narrative is misleading and superficial. It focuses on the wrong seduction.

The more instructive storyline would be one that illuminates the ways in which Petraeus was able to seduce members of Congress (Democrats and Republicans), journalists and the citizenry at large. He persuaded politicians, opinion leaders and ordinary voters that he was a heroic, larger-than-life figure who could win wars that were, in reality, unwinnable. It was just what many Americans wanted to hear.

It was a mutually destructive notion. The covert affair the four-star general carried on with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, is a rather pedestrian tale full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” By contrast, the romance between Petraeus and his admiring public is a story of fatal consequence. If we are willing to reflect on that story, there are lessons to be learned.

Ah, how I remember, with no fondness whatsoever, those halcyon days when the general presented himself as the man who would salvage a foolish misadventure in Iraq. In 2007, when violence was the only thing surging in and around Baghdad, Petraeus came forward with his rewritten counter-insurgency manual, offering George W. Bush a way to save face. Bush promptly put Petraeus in charge of his war.

I’ll give the general this much: The Pentagon had not thought much about counter-insurgency strategy since Vietnam, and the typical battlefield tactics in which U.S. troops are trained were merely killing Iraqi civilians and creating new enemies. The general sought, rightly, to focus troops on protecting civilians instead.

But the pacification of Iraq — such as it was — was largely accomplished through the so-called Sunni awakening, in which Sunni tribesmen stopped fighting us and trained their weapons on insurgents. That started in 2005, two years before the surge, as Sunnis grew to distrust al Qaeda and its affiliates. And it was helped mightily by the Pentagon’s tactical decision to put many of those Sunnis on its payroll.

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. nobsartist November 17, 2012

    I would be interested on what we paid for this coach.

  2. Fern Woodfork November 17, 2012

    This Country Needs To Move FORWARD!!! I Don’t Give A Damn Who Screwing Who I Want The GOP/Tea Party TO STOP SCREWING US!!!

    1. amarquez647 November 17, 2012

      Here here

      1. Trishyia November 21, 2012

        Grand Old Party (GOP) has nothing to offer. Read Jim Myers mail below……..
        In 4 more years, USA would see budget surpluses just as Bill Clinton did. Grow up!

    2. old_blu November 17, 2012

      Exactly Fern I’m with you I don’t care who’s screwing who as long as they stop screwing me. (and you) lol

    3. onedonewong November 17, 2012

      Barak had 4 years and all that happened was the worst economy ever since the great depression. Businesses aren’t gonna hire until he either resins or is impeached

      1. Fern Woodfork November 18, 2012

        Shut Your Dumb Ass Up Troll!!! Your Last Pick Of A President Bush Did This Crap!! You And Your Thug Ass Party Needs To Quit Lying Cause You Can Clearly See It Ain’t Working!!!

        1. onedonewong November 18, 2012

          Sorry this recession was caused by a Democratic congress followed by a colored president who was and still is a rank amateur. It unfortunate that now all blacks are measured by him and expectations have been so lowered that calls for the reemergence of slavery to teach blacks a trade or skill

      2. Jim Myers November 18, 2012

        Replying to onedonewong –

        Yes, we need to go back to the good old days of George the Second.

        Oh, wait. Isn’t that where the financial debacle started in the first place?

        You know, HUGE job losses, the housing meltdown, two unfunded wars on the government credit card, MASSIVE WELFARE FOR THE WEALTHY, bankrupting the entire Nation along with all 50 States, and eventually most of the civilized world.


        Grow up. The public voted for the forward thinking of President Obama, and REJECTED the Bush and Cheney clones.

        1. onedonewong November 18, 2012

          Your right they did not. It started under Clinton thanks to odds and Frank so that W inherited a recession from clinton and took the actions necessary to stop it.
          When the Dems took over congress during W’s 2d term unemployment was at 4.5%, deficit was $200B a year and not a single country willing to take us on by word or deed. And thennnnn barak and his dem minions passed their budgets laws and regulations that crippled business and started the recession.
          As barak has said only 50 of the states out of 57 were affected by the dems legislation

        2. Mulligatonney November 18, 2012

          Actually, that wasn’t where the housing meltdown started at all.

          This shouldn’t be too difficult for you – simply google the Community Reinvestment Act during the Carter administration and you will see where it started.

          Government-directed loans – millions of them over several decades, through Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and others – to people who had very poor odds of making the payments for any length of time, and these bad loans were packaged up and embedded in Wall Street investment packages. Once the cash was freed up for more loans by government mandate, the government again directed the same institutions to do the very same thing. This was all done by Democrats. For votes. This is a fact and is easily available to verify through even liberal sources.

          The Democrats saw that this was getting them many votes, and kept it up for decades amid many and quite vocal protests from fiscal conservatives. They were ignored, and even publicly lambasted by Barney Frank and other Democrats for calling public attention to the dangerous loan practices.

          The house of cards collapsed during the Bush Administration – that is the extent of his involvement. He was one of the ones protesting the bad loan practices.

          He and his administration warned Congress several times and Frank/Dodd, among others, simply thumbed their noses at him. Then, in a master stroke of political maneuvering, they blamed him and the Republican Party for the entire thing. And they managed to convince a huge number of gullible Americans to believe the entire fabrication. They even had the audacity to feign outrage about it and get themselves re-elected using it as a campaign issue. Genius? Or manipulation of the ignorant?

          And you dumb bastards swallowed the hook, line and sinker. Now you pretend to be indignant over the meltdown along with the charlatans that caused it and blamed it on others.

          The wars you may be able to holler about, as much money has been spent on them and there may have been a better strategy to insure your protection – I am assuming you are not grateful for the protection that was provided you. Or how much something like that costs? Or how much economic impact 911 had on America. If you look at the economic indicators post 911, you will see the truth there. There is no mystery.

          The rest of it you are dead wrong about…

          Dead wrong.

          Did you think all of this compost up by yourself, or you simply one of the cackling parrots on this website?

          But – the communist – er, I’m sorry – the “forward thinker” in the White House somehow got back in for another term, and now we will see what his true intentions are, I believe…

          If I am wrong, I will admit it. If you are wrong, I hope you have the ballsack to admit it as well, although it won’t make much of a difference. Because if you are wrong, the country just may be in ruins.

          So – how badly do you want to know this? If it is the truth, isn’t it worth a little bit of your time to do the proper research to discover it for yourself? Or are you just intent upon marching…

          Forward, Comrade!

      3. Bill November 19, 2012

        Hey dummy

        If you are going to criticize the president at least spell his nam correctly, it’s Barrack. As far as the worst economy he inherited it from GW Bush who took a surplus from Clinton’s era and turned it into a huge deficit with large jobs losses in the last months of his administration, 100’000’s of jobs were loss at W’s end. Since then Prseident Obama has had to fight an obstructionist House and a fillibusteering Senate to get anything done. We have had job growth for over the last 3 years, a stock market that is up over 50% in all of the major indices.

        How does a president “resins” I believe you mean resigns dummy. Just making illogical and/or irrational statements doesn’t make them true dummy.

        1. onedonewong November 19, 2012

          Thanks for the history rewrite W inherited a recession from Clinton and took strong economic policies to stop it before it got worse. Barak and his Dem minions took control of Congress in 2007 at that time unemployment was at 4.5% and the deficit was $200b a year.
          And then the democratic barak miracle took hold . 23 million are unemployed in the US today MORE than at any time during W’s 2nd term. Barak hasn’t added 1 job since taking over.
          Barak has a filibuster proof senate and house when he came into office and had it for 2 years 2009-2010. All this disaster is of the Dem’s doing so why aren’t they willing to take credit

  3. gargray November 17, 2012

    This shows that wars are fought buy the little man and only benifits the rich. The Oil companies got their oil wells back in Iraq and how many died in this war?

  4. ignore the facts November 17, 2012

    As Lawrence O’Donnell explained last night very clearly is that Petraeus lacks JUDGMENT. That is the whole story. Sexusl scandal is constant with all these guys. It never ends. BUT, JUDGMENT is necessary and he lacks it. Hanging with social climbers like Jill is a prime example. They are avid repugnicans and do thin they are above us all. This Jill character is so shallow it’s beyond description. She and her husband ran a “cancer drive” and then LOST all the money – now isn’t that cute.

    1. onedonewong November 17, 2012

      I agree hanging with J Z and Bill Maher, and Barbara Streisand, andthe Weathermen undr ground and Jessie Jackson and al sharpton and louie gates show that barak is cut from the same cloth as clinton

  5. ignore the facts November 17, 2012

    All you gung ho war mongers, go fight them. I’m sick of you know it alls who sit home and moan. Go do it yourselves. You like American lives lost for years and years, but you won’t move a muscle. Oh, I forgot, you can’t mow your own lawn or wash your own windows, so you have to go to the guy. Give me a break.

  6. gendreau2 November 17, 2012

    As far as I’m concerned, Petreaus in not honorable. I really sympathize for his wife and should get rid of him.

    1. stcroixcarp November 17, 2012

      And she should take all his money with her. She deserves a life of luxury for the humiliations she has suffered, and he deserves a foxhole.

  7. doemland November 17, 2012

    with all due respect, Cynthia missed a point. Petraeus’ job as a soldier was to promote the agenda of the commander in chief, regardless of his own opinion. remember Truman and Mac Arthur. same with Colin Powell and his UN speech.

  8. Garyluv2 November 17, 2012

    As Long as he told no Secret’s .I Do not have a Problem with his Privet Conduct He is a Cilvilan now He Looks like the guy from MAD Mag Alfread E Neuman yaknow the guy with big ear’s oops Better not talk about him After all He is a spy

    1. Jim Myers November 18, 2012

      Replying to Garyluv2 –

      Actually, Ryan always reminded me of Alfred E. Newman.

  9. Diogenes67 November 17, 2012

    Can anyone with a lot of spare time publish a photo of Gen Petraeus with annotations describing each award in his cornucopia of chest candy, along with an estimate of the time it takes for his aide/aides to pin it all on?

  10. onedonewong November 17, 2012

    No question that the wars were unwindable once an armature sitting in the WH thinks he knows more about military tactics and our military capability then are seasoned generals. W simple gave the order and ask the military to implement it. result total conquest of Iraq and Afghanistan. Barak like LBJ got involved and put his rules of engagement in place. Result record US casualties every year they have been in place and the smallest level of moooslim casualties

    1. Jim Myers November 18, 2012

      Replying to onedonewong –


      Now there is a real gut splitter!!!

      Keep up all the jokes. They are where I get most of my laughs these days.

      1. onedonewong November 18, 2012

        Mission was accomplished and all army’s vanquished. Guess you were to young then to read a paper

  11. Paul Do November 18, 2012

    I admire Cynthia Tucker for her courage to report some of the deeper currents around Gen. Petraeus.
    Perhaps he’s not the hero we made him try to be. Prior to this article, I’d considered drumming up support to bring Petraeus back to service in Obama’s cabinet. Maybe not.

    Then I consider how most people who make it to “star” status are deeply flawed in some ways. It’s the human condition. We could reflect for a moment on our own flaws, if we dare to face them squarely, then wonder what kind of shell game we’d have to play to get to that “star” status, and then hang on to it for a while. Or instead, let them enjoy their moment in the limelight, and look gently aside when they tumble in disgrace. Thank God I didn’t go through that…

    1. Jenny De Gregorio November 18, 2012

      Does he want to be an effective general, or a star? We lose because he chose stardom at the expense of our country. Weak, lame, typically American. As long as you achieve stardom and $$, who cares that people suffer and die accordingly?

    2. bobwalton November 19, 2012

      I couldn’t care less who he screws as long as it’s not our troops or the American public. His moral critics need to shove their blue noses … you can guess where this would have gone in say, the NY Daily News.

  12. mohamed November 18, 2012

    this is a plan has to be done in this periode!!!

  13. JORAM November 18, 2012

    i wonder why people look at somebodys private life more then the good work thy do

  14. bobwalton November 19, 2012

    “Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary…” which means she, like her hanger-on, Lucian Truscott IV, a failed military brat but passable novelist, are paid for writing entertaining polemics, not facts. They have set their sights on Petraueus for, as Truscott has stated, “failing to to conquer the countries we invaded, and ended up occupying undefeated nations.”

    I don’t recall any battles we didn’t win. Somebody needs to explain to them that “conquering the countries we invaded” wasn’t on Petraeus’ platter. Our political, and therefore DOD’s political grand plan was enforced regime change. Most army sergeants (Truscott IV was a failed 2nd LT) could tell them that but why bother? Polemic fiction is their genere.


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