By S. M. Hall
If someone had mentioned last week, the way General David Petreaus, erstwhile Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would fall from grace, it would have appeared implausible. The fact is that the high and mighty have fallen and that too over a tawdry affair with another married woman.
David Howell Petraeus graduated from the US Military Academy, West Point in 1974. He earned the General George C. Marshall Award as the top graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College Class of 1983 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He subsequently earned an M.P.A. in 1985 and a Ph. D degree in International Relations in 1987 from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, then served as an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the US Military Academy from 1985 to 1987. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era". He also completed a military fellowship at GeorgetownUniversity’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1994–1995, although he was called away early to serve in Haiti as the Chief of Operations for the UN force there in early 1995.
General Petreaus is highly decorated and a much revered military hero of the US Army. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petreaus was a four-star General serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from July 4, 2010 to July 18, 2011. His other four-star assignments include serving as the 10th Commander, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) from October 13, 2008, to June 30, 2010, and as Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) from February 10, 2007, to September 16, 2008. As commander of MNF-I, Petraeus oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq and is remembered for his success.
The question then arises, why would a General of the high caliber of David Petraeus, a family man, married for over 37 years, father of two children, one of whom is serving in the US Army in Afghanistan, indulge in the indiscretion of an extra-marital affair? Allegedly, the co-author of his biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell, forty and married also with two children developed amorous relations with him. The affair was discovered owing to Paula’s indiscretion, when fearing being scorned, she allegedly sent threatening emails to an suspected love rival from the retired general's own Gmail account. The recipient of those emails, fearing for her safety, contacted the FBI – which found that Broadwell had sent them. A government official told the New York Post that the emails contained such language as: 'I know what you did,' 'back off' and 'stay away from my guy.' The official added: '[Broadwell] clearly thought something was going on' and thought she was in a 'lovers’ triangle.'
A senior US military official has since, identified the woman who allegedly received the harassing e-mails from Paula Broadwell as Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa, the Associated Press reported. Kelley serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military's Central Command and Joint Special Operations Command are located. Ironically, Jill Kelley has since been named in an extra-marital affair with General John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan. The married general had exchanged potentially inappropriate emails with Ms. Kelley, and the revelation has caused a maelstrom in the US. Kelley, who is married to cancer surgeon Scott Kelley and has three daughters, hosts frequent parties at her home, and newspaper accounts indicate Petraeus and his wife, Holly, have attended.
President Barack lauded Petraeus’s decades of “extraordinary service,” which includes his time as general in charge of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as head of the CIA, where Petraeus would have been in charge of Obama’s “secret” drone program into Afghanistan and Pakistan. Conspiracy theorists are concluding that it was the curse of the innocent victims of the drone attacks, which kill children and other civilians in several countries with no oversight or control from anyone that brought about the downfall of the CIA Director.
While pundits in the US are mourning the fall of the CIA chief, Israel considers it a loss for it. The Haaretz writes: “A hero of the kind America loves, the outgoing CIA chief also understood both Israel's security needs and the need to advance peace with the Palestinians.” This adulation comes despite the statement by Petraeus that Israel is a liability for the US. In March 2010, when Petraeus was still head of the US Central Command, he gave testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee which included an observation about one of the “challenges to security and stability” faced by the United States: “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.”
Petraeus was required to appear before a US power House and Senate committees into the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya at Benghazi and may still have to do so despite his resignation. The GOP has accused that the US Consulate at Benghazi was being used as a CIA operations center. It has come about that the U.S. supported opposition which overthrew Libya’s Kaddafi was largely comprised of Al-Qaeda terrorists. According to a 2007 report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s center, the Libyan city of Benghazi was one of Al Qaeda’s main headquarters – and bases for sending Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq – prior to the overthrow of Gaddafi. Many speculate that Petraeus has not resigned owing to the affair – but the desire to avoid testifying on Benghazi – which was the real reason for Petraeus’ sudden resignation.
Whatever the case, it is an opportunity for President Obama to appoint a suitable official to lead the CIA in extremely trying times and try and put the cases of the amorous Generals behind him.