I’ve emailed my good friend James Patterson the storyline for a brand-new, juicy novel where FBI agents discover the CIA director — a beloved war hero and possible future presidential candidate — is having an affair with his unpublished biographer-turned femme fatale. Then just days before he’s supposed to testify on a growing scandal that reaches all the way to the White House, he resigns.
Oh, wait. That’s not fiction.
The resignation of Gen. David Petraeus last week not only stunned America, it probably destroyed his reputation for good. There are many unanswered questions and it’s likely to stay that way simply because the government only wants the American people to know so much, and of that, the mainstream media will determine what the American people need to know.
It’s unsettling enough to know that despite their stature it’s apparently true that “men will be men,” but the real kicker is the claim that the FBI stumbled on the extramarital affair back in May but practiced “mum’s the word” until after the 2012 presidential election.
Not since the dismissal of Gen. Douglas McArthur has a military hero risen so high only to fall so far. It says a great deal about the corrupt nature of Washington and a man whose military genius is far more advanced than his maturity.
Nine years ago, Petraeus was commander of the 101st Airborn in Iraq where we were losing the fight against terrorism. It was difficult to tell which was growing faster — the chaos in Iraq or the disenchantment with the war at home. Our strategy was to hunt down bad guys; the problem was the terrorists were being manufactured faster than we could kill them.
From his base camp near Mosul, Petraeus tried a different approach, winning the hearts and minds of the locals and concentrating on security along with roads, schools and medical facilities. It worked, and Mosul became a place of peace in a country on the verge of civil war.
After leaving the 101st to train Iraqi soldiers, Petraeus pulled together a team of strategists to identify successful anti-guerrilla campaigns of the past and study what Marines were doing to pacify Iraq’s Anbar province.
He then went to President George W. Bush in late 2006 and convinced him that with extra troops the strategy would save the war in Iraq. Bush overruled his closest advisors and gave Petraeus overall command.
The rest would be history — until Barack Obama was elected.
Suddenly Patraeus was not only fighting terrorists but also many skeptics in his own ranks, as well as Congress where arm-chair generals like Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton all but accused Petraeus of lying when he reported his “surge” strategy was working.
In spite of the backbiting, Petraeus had turned the war around in fewer than two years and was promoted to command all American forces in the Middle East.
If left to his soldiering, Petraeus could have used his popularity with Iraqis — who called him King David — and his unparallel knowledge of conditions on the ground to shape what might have been a stronger, more stable peace for Iraq and a lasting American military presence to deter Iran.
Instead, Obama had a difference of opinion with the general in charge of Afghanistan in 2010 and convinced Petraeus to take over. Again, Petraeus turned the situation around. It was midway through that turnaround Obama got wind of the idea that Petraeus might be a possible political rival and announced that the general was leaving Afghanistan to head the CIA. That move would be similar to removing Dwight Eisenhower after D-Day to head the USO and didn’t make any sense except as a ploy to keep Petraeus from getting a victory in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. Now, a year later, we’ve got neither. Iraq is once again degenerating into an al Qaeda oasis, and Obama will, in effect, abandon the Afghans to the Taliban by 2014.
Meanwhile, a brilliant solider was sidelined to a job he was neither suited nor trained for. We might never know if it was boredom, job dissatisfaction or plain stupidity that led him down the tawdry path revealed to the public last week.
No doubt his future includes being the scapegoat for the intelligence failures in Benghazi, Libya, and we’re left with two lost wars, a major scandal and a broken hero whose talents were wasted and achievements tarnished.
The Obamanator strikes again.
Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at email@example.com