Sunday, August 31, 2008

To Walk In General Petraeus's Shoes

Petraeus tours a market in Yusufiya, a town near Baghdad. “The idea is to stay away from the whole optimism-pessimism thing,” he says. Photograph by Franco Pagetti.

The General’s Dilemma -- The New Yorker

Early in 2007, when David Petraeus became Commanding General of United States and international forces in Iraq, he had in mind a strategy to manage the political pressures he would face because of the unpopularity of the war, then four years old, and of its author, George W. Bush. He pledged to be responsive to “both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue”—to his Commander-in-Chief in the White House, of course, but also to antiwar Democrats on Capitol Hill. Petraeus earned a doctoral degree at Princeton University in 1987; the title of his dissertation was “The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.” In thinking about how to cope with political divisions in the United States over Iraq, he was influenced, he told me recently, by Samuel Huntington’s 1957 book “The Soldier and the State,” which argues that civilian control over the military can best be achieved when uniformed officers regard themselves as impartial professionals. Petraeus is registered to vote as a Republican in New Hampshire—he once described himself to a friend as a northeastern Republican, in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller—but he said that around 2002, after he became a two-star general, he stopped voting. As he departed for Baghdad, to oversee a “surge” deployment of additional American troops to Iraq, he sought, as he recalled it, “to try to avoid being pulled in one direction or another, to be in a sense used by one side or the other.” He added, “That’s very hard to do, because you become at some point sort of the face of the war, the face of the surge. So be it. You just have to deal with that.”

Read more ....

My Comment: This is the best profile story of General Petraeus that I have ever read. It is a long piece .... 13 pages long .... but a must read piece for those who either serve under him or for those who have a vested interest in the success of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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