Monday, November 12, 2012

The Petraeus Puzzle

When I first heard about his resignation all the little wheels in my brain started turning.  The whole thing seemed somehow off.  After some cogitation, I came to most of the conclusions Jane Mayer lists here.  Also, I stole the title of this post from her, all unconsciously!  Weird stuff.

Let's face it:  Newt Gingrich did not resign because of adultery.  Bill Clinton did not resign because of adultery.  That diaper guy in Louisiana did not resign because of adultery.  But then perhaps the military is used to different moral rule-sticks?  I've heard the argument that having a  mistress would make Petraeus someone that can be blackmailed easily, and that's a security risk.  But all that he needed to avoid that problem was to tell his wife, right?  Unless he gave her girlfriend classified information, say.  Hmmm. 

The timing of the resignation made my  bells ring, too.  Not before the elections, not right after them (which could have been interpreted as distrust of Obama) but as soon after them as was otherwise feasible.

Then I wondered what kind of politics this all might have been if it was politics.  Petraeus is not exactly a flaming liberal:
Since his first combat tour in Iraq in 2003, Petraeus had cultivated a cadre of a few dozen loyal staff officers, many of whom had doctoral degrees from top universities and taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Usually, he personally selected these men and women to serve on his staff.
In Afghanistan, the retinue grew as people drawn to his fame and eager to launch their own careers took up positions for him in Kabul. “He didn’t seek out these people, but he also didn’t turn them away,” said an officer who spent 40 months working for Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.
Some of Petraeus’s staff officers said he and the American mission in Afghanistan benefited from the broader array of viewpoints, but others complained that the outsiders were a distraction, the price of his growing fame.

The frightening sentences have been bolded by me.  I thought the executive branch of the government, with the president as Commander-in-Chief, ran wars and such. 

Wasn't it a good thing I didn't write any of this over the weekend, given that the real explanation might be something much more mundane:  That FBI got a complaint it had to look into:

Ex-CIA director David Petraeus has told friends he was shocked to find that his biographer and girlfriend, Paula Broadwell, was suspected of sending anonymous, threatening emails to a Petraeus friend she saw as a romantic rival.

A close Petraeus associate said Monday that FBI investigators told Petraeus that Broadwell sent anonymous emails to Jill Kelley, a Petraeus family friend from his time at Central Command in Tampa, warning her to stay away from him. The Petraeus associate spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential conversations with Petraeus. The CIA director resigned last week after confessing to the affair.

Petraeus was not shown the emails, but was told the tone and content seemed threatening to Kelley, prompting her to report them, the close Petraeus associate said. That triggered the investigation that led the FBI to Broadwell and evidence of her affair with Petraeus.

The lawmakers are not happy about the way the FBI ran the investigation.  They were not informed, for instance.

I would have had egg on my face if I had written this post earlier.  Get it?  Heh.

It would have been safer to write about the Cult of Petraeus.  I don't really get cults but that's probably because as a goddess I'm more likely to lead one than follow one. 

The nasty  bits on all this attention are what you might expect:  On The Other Woman.   This is a relatively mild example.

And did you start counting the time to the first evo-psycho article about why Petraeus, A Man With Everything,  did something so stupid for sex? 

I haven't found one yet (though I'm confident that it is in the works), but I did come across this inane television conversation with one S.E. Cupp asking why great men are willing to sacrifice everything for sex, all through the times!  

None of the people point out that Paula Broadwell, the woman Petraeus admitted having had an affair with, seems to have sacrificed pretty much everything for sex, too. 

If we call an affair just sex.  I doubt she can salvage her career as a biographer after this, and I'm not sure what the consequences are for her marriage.  The only difference between her situation and that of Petraeus is that the society ranks his success much higher.  But as more evidence accumulates on women in fairly powerful positions and the follies of love (not just sex, I think), the evidence starts looking more balanced.

This post is a nice word salad, isn't it?