Two items caught my eye.
First, the celebratory piece on General David Petraeus, retiring to take the helm of the CIA, in the Washington Post:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the most recognized military officer of his generation, retires from the Army today after roughly four decades in uniform and a career like no other.
With that in mind, we invited four defense experts to reflect on his record. Some of them have known the general up close, others from afar. To each the question was the same: What is his legacy and how has he shaped the U.S. armed forces?
For some, Petraeus will be remembered as the model statesman-soldier – commander of two wars launched by the United States and chief intellectual author of a counterinsurgency doctrine that advances American interests. But for others, Petraeus will be remembered less for his remarkable accomplishments – which are almost universally admired – than for his association with a U.S. foreign policy that, in their view, is costly, misguided and not always effective.
In other words, the story of Gen. David Petraeus is in many ways the story of America’s wars.
The experts’ submissions – mini-essays of sorts – are below.
Celeste Ward Gventer on separating the myth from the man
Michael O’Hanlon on an overachieving superstar
Christopher A. Preble on the chief strategist for unnecessary wars
John Nagl on a soldier, teacher, mentor and commander
Hat tip to Lexington Green.
Dr. Nagl compares Petraeus to Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant. O’Hanlon compares him to Michael Jordan. Preble claims Petraeus as “one of the finest officers of his generation” but Gventer remarks that Petraues is a “fine military officer” who “doubtless has virtues” sounds oddly backhanded and grudging. Who doesn’t have some virtues?
I have never written much about General Petraeus, specifically. I like him because he seems supremely competent in more than one narrow dimension, a quality sorely lacking in public life these days, as well as highly intelligent. Comparing him to Grant, Eisenhower and Michael Jordan(?) is a tad premature, however. Even Grant wasn’t Grant until after Appomattox, and as the general is going to be a very important player “in the arena” for some time, that kind of praise may not be helpful for a man who is taking over an org whose senior mandarins have become notorious for leaks and intriguing to sabotage Directors sent by the White House to curb their independence. There’s a line somewhere between hagiography for a man who still has things to accomplish and a throwaway psuedo-compliment that minimizes a legacy, which in the case of David Petraeus is significant.
Secondly, on a lighter note, Courtney Messerschmidt, the gamine of milblogging and Great Satan’s Girlfriend, has some good-natured fun at the expense of Abu Muqawama:
…When Captain Ex became exCaptain Ex and made the move into making his brain more bigger, it was easy for for funk obsessed critics to dismiss the new millennium’s wunder killer kind as another of CNAS cadres Das Unaussprechlichen COIN Külten‘s expert killers of killers who were sweetly turning AFPAK into a safe word.
Sev cats on the intell T ism side of the scale secretly whispered Abu was either – taking terrible risks – hanging out with creepy Hiz’B’allah cats in Leb, naming his site with a transliteration of the same name as the collective of rocket happy jerks led by their gross, overtly robust Body Part Collector General and getting all paw paw (no fun of any kind) on Drones Gone Wild!
Or was Abu playing enemies with the goal of assuring their annihilation – often in slow and painful ways? [….]
Perhaps it is indeed foolish to cross Dr. Exum, as I believe he may be of Scots-Irish stock…