Petraeus was dropped smartly, just after the election. Was this a coincidence? I think not.
For all she spends more than the next ten countries put together on her military, America hasn’t won a war in decades. Russia won the Second World War for the allies, though she got damn all thanks for it. The US ran Korea to a score draw; Cuba was an embarrassment; Vietnam was a wipe-out, and everything since has been, at best, patchy. Gulf War One, run as a franchise with lots of help was hardly an example of best practice, Gulf War Two when the big boy was left to do it himself, degenerated into a disaster both militarily and diplomatically. Afghanistan is simply lost.
And throughout the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus sat at its helm.
Then, in 2011 he announces that he fancies a wee go at a run for President for the Republicans. See Kings passim. It was properly pushed, well planned serious stuff with even the International press talking up his chances. Mind you the Telegraph was only comparing him to Eisenhower in its more claret fuelled moments.
Even if he was a real contender, which I doubted back in 2011, Obama took it seriously enough to have him nicely sidelined when he shoved him into McCrystal’s old job fronting up the CIA. Davy now had a two year contract he couldn’t really break and retain credibility. He was unlikely to break it to run against his boss. Petraeus was thus tidily parked out the way.
But Petraeus’s real disadvantages are closer to home. Petraeus was vulnerable, he had no political family, no oligarchical connections. He presents as a bit of a cold fish, he is no General Colin Powell, lacking Powell’s public gravitas. He is a figure less of “Stormin Norman” Schwarzkopf’s daring-do, more the office wallah totally lacking in Presidential charisma. And a rodent like face does not enhance his credentials.
Militarily his big push never achieved anything, and Iraq wallowed in corruption waste and fraud for years.
Being stuck with the job of constantly apologising for his staff shooting children out gathering sticks, or accidentally topping off Harmid Karzai’s cousins didn’t help either.
Even in the CIA he couldn’t get it right. The main complaint there was the awful guddle that was the destruction of the American Consulate at Benghazi, and the loss of an Ambassador, which was such a disaster it even threatened to push Obama’s election run off course. And people try to say that he was liked and respected by Obama? Really?
So when he becomes neither use nor ornament, and Obama wants someone real in the CIA, it is useful to find an acceptable reason to shove Petreaus out the window. And bang on cue along comes the mistress. Now, running “the egregious risk of being blackmailed by foreign powers” is pure smokescreen nowadays. Frankly it didn’t even wash way back in the fifties. Politicians and Military men all had extramarital affairs even then. Eisenhower had a mistress, and so did General MacArthur who enjoyed the ample charms of Isabel Rosario Cooper. But the public don’t like it.
So now that Obama is safely back in the office it works well enough with the public to push Petraeus out the window. Which is how oligarchies get rid of the competition.
Oh, and did I mention that not being in office means that Petraeus will not now be testifying to Congress next week on Benghazi?
Copyright David Macadam 2012