David Petraeus: The Bestest General Ever Since George Washington

From what I’ve read, maybe about half of David Petraeus’ boosters are shocked about his plea deal — not so much that he pled guilty to a crime, I think, but the details about the kinds of sensitive materials he stored in a rucksack then passed on to his mistress. Perhaps, too, a few of them have qualms about a top official lying to the FBI (apparently unaware that Petraeus has been lying for years).

So the result has been that, even with a posse of PR hacks in the waiting, the response to his plea has been relatively muted.

Of course, that creates a problem for the people for whom Petraeus has been a necessary myth for years, a heroic biography on which to hang a narrative of benign conquest.

Enter Michael O’Hanlon.

It’s not so much that I’m surprised O’Hanlon has written this sappy hagiography. That’s what O’Hanlon does.

I’m amused with O’Hanlon’s failure to explain why he has chosen to write such a hagiography now, just after we’ve learned Petraeus was willing to compromise some of America’s most sensitive secrets to get laid, and then lied about it.  “David Petraeus, National Hero” the title reads, followed by the sub-head, “His openness was his downfall.”

Fucking in private in exchange for sharing code word intelligence is “openness”?

But O’Hanlon probably didn’t even write that. If not, then the only hint in O’Hanlon’s slop of Petraeus’ betrayal of vows that the General was hailing even as he was lying about breaking his own is in his admission that, Petraeus “has just taken another hit in recent days,” as if getting special treatment for crimes others do decades in prison for is akin to the two incidents were Petraeus almost died that O’Hanlon has just lionized, though neither incident happened in combat.

I’m more amused than shocked by the way O’Hanlon tries to turn shrink-wrapping helicopters into a sexually charged act.

Petraeus wanted to talk mostly about shrink-wrapping helicopters. He knew that he might have to move the 101st Air Assault Division by train from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to the Atlantic seaboard in preparation for possible deployment to Iraq. We didn’t talk a lot about the high politics or military practicalities of an actual invasion in that conversation. You know the old saying, generals think logistics! And that is exactly where his mind was.

David Petraeus and your local UPS guy. “That’s logistics.”

Though I would have thought calling David Petraeus the best General since George Washington a little over the top, even for O’Hanlon.

To my mind, what he did in Iraq was probably the greatest complex accomplishment by any American general since Washington in the Revolutionary War. Sure, I’m biased, and sure, the stakes for the nation were lower in Iraq than in the world wars or Civil War and the achievements less durable in the face of future events. And for hardship in the field, those generals of earlier days usually had it much worse.

But in the need to combine knowledge of maneuver warfare, required for the taking-down of Saddam back in 2003, to the reinvigoration and refinement of proper counterinsurgency operations that Petraeus led in the field in 2007 (after writing the U.S. military’s manual on the subject with Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Amos, the future Commandant, in 2006), to the mastery of Iraqi tribal and regional and national politics needed to bring all the pieces of the team together, to the handling of the Washington debate, there was something different about this war. It was simply more complicated, with more moving parts, and more things that had to go right to have any chance of success.

O’Hanlon’s conclusion, after imbuing Petraeus and his team of heroes with some great act in taking out Saddam and then managing the occupation well enough that it might have “any chance of success” is notable. Because this is where O’Hanlon ends this embarrassing project:

This dream team refashioned the Iraqi Security Forces and their leadership, then worked with them to bring down violence rates in Iraq an incredible 90 percent and give Iraqi leaders a chance to turn their country around. That change, tragically, was largely squandered in ensuing years, but Petraeus and Crocker et al gave them the chance. On balance, this was arguably the greatest military comeback in American history, after four successive years of losing the war.

The greatest military comeback in American history, according to Michael O’Hanlon, came when the same military leaders who had been losing that war for four successive years decided to bribe enough Sunnis so America could make a break for it and claim victory, a victory the lie of which was exposed when those same “refashioned Iraqi Security Forces and their leadership” turned and ran when faced by Iraq’s former officers teamed up with some of those same Sunnis now claiming radical Islamic sanction.

The greatness of America for the COINdinistas is now being hung on the claim that a General whose commitment to his vows (to secrecy, to say nothing of his own marriage) couldn’t withstand the promise of a good lay. And that General’s triumph is now measured in utter silence about the crimes for which he’ll go scot free, and in celebration for his ability to shrink wrap (or have shrink wrapped) helicopters and — after 4 years of losing — giving those we occupied “a chance.”

And this, to the COINdinistas, is the greatest accomplishment since Washington’s successful revolt against our own occupier Empire gave us, our idealized nation, far far more than “a chance.”

14 replies
    • wallace says:

      quote”What evidence do we have that Broadwell was “a good lay”?”unquote

      Prosecutor:”I object your Honor!! Sexual performance is irrelevant and is hearsay!

      Judge..drooling. “Overruled! Continue!!

      Defense council: “General, please explain to the court what you mean by “good lay”

      Patreaus:”Well, she was the fuck of the century. Why else would anyone commit..er..wait. Nevermind.”

      • RUKidding says:

        Somewhere Ken Starr is weeping & gnashing his teeth that he cannot intensely grill BetrayUS and Broadwell and have starbursts whilst being paid by US taxpayers to write another steamy porn novel for public consumption.

  1. wallace says:

    emptywheel @emptywheel · 17h 17 hours ago
    Shorter Michael O’Hanlon: RAZE Mt. Rushmore and build a pyramid to the Great General’s honor!

    Shorter Michael O’Hanlon: Oh let the Great General return to service!!! He will vanquish all terrorists by shrink wrapping them in steel!

    Shorter Michael O’Hanlon: Statues to His Honor in mere gold would soil His Great Legacy.

    Shorter Michael O’Hanlon: Bribing Sunnis to stop fighting for 6 months was the most noble thing a US public servant has ever done.

    @RWFreeman Oh!?!?!?! You question the General’s ability to shrink wrap tanks!?!?! Heresy!!!!

    Shorter Michael O’Hanlon: This country does David Petraeus an injustice unless it names 5 states and 2 territories after him.

    Shorter Michael O’Hanlon: It’s not enough to put David Petraeus on 1, 5, 20, & 50 dollar bills to honor his skill in shrink-wrapping tanks!

    Oh how David Petraeus is even more godlike than this country’s founders, by Michael “I’m not the mistress, really” O’Hanlon.”unquote


    I knew it. After rolling on the floor in gut splitting laughter @emptywheel twitter remarks, I immediately come here to find this post.

    Don Rickles must be smiling.

  2. galljdaj says:

    I’m wondering if there’s some way to ‘make’ people like o’han(m)lon to study the background of lil petraeus and those he hired to do the ‘great job’ that was all propaganda! and war crimes!

  3. der says:

    David Petraeus: “[“Perception” is key, he wrote in his 1987 Princeton dissertation:] “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.”
    ***Michael Hastings (RIP): “Yes, it’s not what actually happens that matters — it’s what you can convince the public it thinks happened.

    Until this weekend, Petraeus had been incredibly successful in making the public think he was a man of great integrity and honor, among other things. Most of the stories written about him fall under what we hacks in the media like to call “a blow job.” Vanity Fair. The New Yorker. The New York Times. The Washington Post. Time. Newsweek. In total, all the profiles, stage-managed and controlled by the Pentagon’s multimillion dollar public relations apparatus, built up an unrealistic and superhuman myth around the general that, in the end, did not do Petraeus or the public any favors.” http://www.buzzfeed.com/mhastings/the-sins-of-general-david-petraeus#.cwGKEaKqab
    ***and here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-legend-of-david-petraeus-20120131
    ***Add O’Hanlon’s name to the list, lap dog biographers serving the narcissistic fools that rule us. (Hastings did have a lot of respect for Petraeus yet he could separate the man from the myth.)

  4. lefty665 says:

    “Petraeus was willing to compromise some of America’s most sensitive secrets to get laid,”
    Thank you EW, too bad the MSM doesn’t “lay” it out this clearly. Puts a new spin on “compartmentalized” .
    Any lay was a good lay to the brown nosing little… oops, that treads dangerously near disrespect for the lgbt community, I apologize. Intent was to place “good lay” in context by contrasting Betrayus’s customary rank ingratiating sexual behavior and intercourse with an actual female.

  5. wallace says:

    Well,..like they say..”You can take the boy out of the military but you can’t take the libido out of the boy.”

  6. RUKidding says:

    Well the General who BetrayedUSa really OWES someone big time for this little favor. And the real chips will be called in for sure. Kravis is smiling. BetrayUS is out there getting the sycophants to polish the turds on his image.
    And the rubes are given the finger once again by our Overlords who mock and point at us with derision. You think we give a SHIT about laws??? ha ha ha ha ha…

  7. Don Bacon says:

    O’Hanlon was another strap-hanger on the Petraeus Express. The two have a long relationship, from when they were students together. O’Hanlon, as director of research for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, has often been a go-to guy on COIN, Afghanistan and Iraq, forever promoting Petraeus in Op-Eds.
    Possibly O’Hanlon also saw King David’s black books, these two co-authors?
    –Politico, The Great American Comeback, The United States is not in decline. It’s on the cusp of a great revival. By MICHAEL O’HANLON and DAVID H. PETRAEUS, April 27, 2014
    O’Hanlon’s friendship with Broadwell is shorter; he says Petraeus introduced him to Broadwell in 2009. After Petraeus’s resignation O’Hanlon wrote an Op-Ed: “The Paula Broadwell I know — My friend is an accomplished, caring person who is being unfairly demonized for her mistakes.”
    Opinions on Petraeus differ.
    From Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
    “You’ve run the race well, swifter and surer than the rest, and you now stand among the giants not just in our time but of all time, joining the likes of Grant and Pershing and Marshall and Eisenhower as one of the great battle captains of American history,” Mullen said to Petraeus. “You’ve expanded our view of the possible, inspiring our military on to historic achievements during some of the most trying times America has ever known. And today you depart our ranks with the sincere thanks of a grateful nation.”
    Admiral “Fox” Fallon, Petraeus’s one-time boss: Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” and added, “I hate people like that”, the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

  8. bevin says:

    “To my mind, what he did in Iraq was probably the greatest complex accomplishment by any American general since Washington in the Revolutionary War. ”

    What is significant about this sort of nonsense is that it tells us a great deal about the contempt that drivellers, such as O’Hanlon, have for the public and their absolute confidence that there will be no consequences whatever for demonstrating their ignorance and cynicism to the world.

    One wonders how organisations such as the Brookings can possibly claim tax exemptions for performing educational or scholarly work when one of their most prominent spokesmen demonstrates either that he is uneducated or that he regards his subsidised pulpit as a opportunity to lick his friends’ posteriors or spit in the face of public opinion.

  9. Don Bacon says:

    O’Hanlon: ‘….and the achievements [in Iraq] less durable in the face of future events.”
    It’s been my experience that achievements losing durability in the face of future events is not unusual, and Petraeus in fact said repeatedly that the achievements in Iraq were “fragile and reversible.” (I’ve previously posted a long list of them here.)

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