Saturday, November 10, 2012

The XX Committee Weighs in On Petraeus

John R. Schindler runs the blog XX Committee and is professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College. He in no way can be viewed as anti-Empire and thus his views on Petraeus, in this context, are quite interesting:
... this is Dave Petraeus we’re talking about, the best-known American general officer of his generation, heralded nearly universally as the Man of the Hour for pushing a decade now. This was the brainy, can-do soldier who, the story went, through his genius and determination reeducated the U.S. Army in counterinsurgency and then applied the new wonder-doctrine successfully in Iraq, snatching victory-lite from the jaws of defeat. Stars, accolades and glory fell on Petraeus and he became something of the Magic Man for many in and around the seat of power of Washington, DC. Even the increasingly obvious failure of his generalship and ideas in Afghanistan – where so many American projects go to die of late – could not really tarnish his stellar reputation.

There were always dissenters from the official story about Dave: some hard-lefties who saw in Petraeus the embodiment of all they disliked about the military and its impact on American life. Additionally, there were always those in the Department of Defense, in uniform and out, who sensed in Petraeus more than a whiff of hokum. Some who had gotten close to Petraeus Inc., which included a raft of young and hungry officers on the make, sensed the inner emptiness of the whole enterprise, that it was more about PR and bluster than actual accomplishment. Whispers abounded that only in an institution as intellectually bereft as today’s Army could someone like Petraeus seem like a genius. Still, none of it really mattered, and after expressing that politics (the vice-presidency, just to start) did not interest him, Petraeus retired from the Army and took over the CIA in September 2011 and Dave’s greatness moved ever forward.


  1. As Wenzel points out, it's the foreign policy that is idiotic, not the tactics.

  2. Petraeus was indeed all about the PR. Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing but failures, that Petraeus dressed it up to appear to be something else changed nothing.