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Monday, November 12, 2012

Robin’s Thoughts On Petraeus And Broadwell

Two of retired Gen. David Petraeus’s military coins. On left, from when he was head of U.S. Army Combined Arms Center in Fort Worth, Kan. and on right, when he was head of U.S. Central Command.

When we first met General David Petraeus in 2006, he had fallen from favor with civilian leaders in the Bush-era military, banished from Iraq to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. after he suggested that U.S. forces switch from fighting insurgents to befriending Iraqis so that they would fight the insurgents.

It was something he called counter-insurgency.

So Petraeus was in exile, and yet we remember watching him walk alone down the long hall to our studios in uniform, his bearing erect, as if leading a battalion.

He came at the request of our friend Seth Moulton, a young Marine who served four tours in Iraq. Moulton became a special assistant to Petraeus, and stood by him throughout his exile.

As Petraeus left our studios, he gave me a general’s medallion, which I graciously gave to a colleague with young sons – and immediately and selfishly wanted back!

Should you enshrine one of the great military minds of our day, who became the head of the CIA and threw it all away?

So the next time Petraeus came to our studios, I asked for another one. This time, he was surrounded by a swarm of aides, a textbook example of recovering from setback. He took that time in Fort Leavenworth to literally write the book on counter-insurgency, and was now elevated to Commander of U.S. Central Command.

It said so on my new medallion, which I’d planned to put in a Christmas shadow box for a nephew, who recently burst into tears because he doesn’t have a dad or a grandpa like his cousins – no man to look up to.

The plan was to include my dad’s Marine medals from Guadalcanal, a picture of my uncle from the Battle of the Bulge and the general’s medallion.

But now what? Should you enshrine one of the great military minds of our day, who became the head of the CIA and threw it all away?

And then there’s Paula Broadwell, West Point grad, married mother of two, Petraeus biographer and paramour. But we knew her for her fierce support of Team Red, White, and Blue, an organization for injured vets.

We went to her big fundraiser for injured vets in North Carolina during the Democratic Convention. Jon Stewart came. Now we’re reading that her affair with Petraeus was uncovered after she sent harassing emails to another woman.

Why ask why. We just had author Barbara Kingsolver on the show. She begins her new novel with the line, “A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture”.

But we think we need people like General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell in the military. She improved lives. He undoubtedly saved them by changing U.S. strategy.

We learn once again you can’t put people on pedestals; they will fling themselves off. But I’ve decided you can put them in a shadow box. Come to think of it, my adored Marine dad wasn’t perfect either.

Here & Now’s May 2, 2006, interview with Lt. Gen. David Petraeus:


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  • Dana Wirth Sparks

    As the information is still unraveling … realizing the public and private pain all the families involved must be living with…the disappointment and deep wonder about how these things happen…is difficult to process. But knowing perfection escapes all of us…I vote for the shadow box, too.   This is a powerful reflection, Robin…thank you.

  • Gula

    There is a pattern here Robin. We have seen this kind of stuff occur before. Someone’s life being destroyed based on some “sexcapade”. And it won’t be the last one.

    Will we get real answers that the media actually reports to the people. Or will the news be sanitized, censored and filtered to fit what those who wanted Petraeus out?Gen. Petraeus was suppose to testify this week in front of Congress concerning the Benghazi incident.
    Conveniently he is ousted from his top position at the CIA.I recall from 1987 during the Reagan years with William Casey, the head of the CIA then.Casey was to testify in Congress about the Iran-Contra scandal.Hours before Casey was scheduled to testify before Congress related to his knowledge of Iran-Contra, he was reported to have been rendered incapable of speech, and was later hospitalized. Soon thereafter he died. So with the CIA, dead men tell no tales.
    Too bad the memories of the American people are so poor.Add to that the mainstream media and what it does and what it doesn’t cover in the news.
    Timing is everything in politics.
    “In politics nothing happens by accident, if it happens you can bet it was plannedthat way.” Franklin Delano RooseveltThere is much more behind the scenes going on here.More in the next comment.

  • Jay

    Thanks for your thoughts, Robin. Listening to your reflection on the air just now, this whole situation reminded me of the affair President Clinton had. We tend to lionize our leaders and we do put them on pedestals, but nobody is perfect. At the end of the day, this incident of terrible judgement on General Petraeus’ part doesn’t make him a bad soldier or an incompetent general. They’ll both suffer the consequences of their mistakes, but I think this is a private problem that affects their families far more than it affects the American public.

  • Gula

    OK Robin, here we go. Have you also been folloeing these 4 high military officials in the past month. 

    Not a bad cleansing of the military in the past 3 weeks.

     
    Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette was found to be unfit for command 0n 27 Oct 2012.

    US Army General Carter Ham was  fired for  defying Leon Panetta on Benghazi on 18 Oct 2012
    Brigadier General Jeffery A. Sinclair was accused of sex crimes in early Nov 2012.
    US Navy Commander Joseph E. Darlak was relieved of his command after a   rowdy, booze-fueled port visit to Vladivostok, Russia on 2 Nov 2012.
    Now it was General David Petraeus’ turn to be “removed” from his position.
    Who is next?
    This all somewhat reminds me of the “Business Plot” of 1933 against FDR. 
    Did you ever consider a military coup against Obama?

    • Sinclair2

      I’m glad to hear our military and civilian leadership are doing their job.  People (general public) forget that discipline is part of the job description regardless of rank.

      • Just In Time

        Try thinking outside of the box Sinclair. You have 5 generals and now Gen. John Allen under suspicion within a month, doesn’t that make you wonder about the timing and coincidence of it all.
        Or has the media so brainwashed your thought patterns that you have lost the ability for any critical thinking.
        Wake up Sinclair before the the crap hits the fan. 

        • Sinclair2

          Your politically driven panic, paranoia, and conspiracy-freak psuedo analysis, plus your lack of experience is not worth getting into a discussion about the system and how it works.

  • Lallan

    There is a lot of lying, deception and dishonesty involved in having an affair. He didn’t just lie to family, friends and coworkers, he lied to himself in order to justify the affair. When an accomplished person like Petraeus gets caught with dishonesty and deception, it’s a personal crisis. He resigned because he’s having a personal crisis not to make us feel better.

  • Gula

    This couldn’t have been a military coup as soon have reported. That kind of stuff only happens in a Third World, which the US is fast approaching towards or only in the movies from Harlotwood.
    The excuse again will be sex related. Sex sells in America along with the other two components of American culture, namely Screen and Sport. Feed the sheep their slop to keep their attentions diverted.
    Even if Petraeus is the 5th high level official from the military that were forced out in the past 3 weeks. Hell, thats just a coincidence.
    No the reason again is SEX.
    What’s that old saying. If you tell a lie long enough the people will believe it.
    And then what Hitler said: How fortunate for governments that the people they administer 

  • Diana

    My heart is with the wife and children who supported and sacrificed a lifetime for this “mans” career ~ on this Veterans Day.  I was SO glad to hear the woman Rebbecca call in to your show and tell the truth about this general’s disgusting lack of moral fortitude! I too was the wife of a successful career military man. 2 years ago I found out he had an affair for 5 years, with a subordinate.  I suppose that oath of military contact is breakable when the “right” WHORE comes along.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    I don’t think it is anyone’s business who anyone else sleeps with, but I bet anyone a million dollars there are a lot more mistresses in hiding.  I bet they start popping up any day now.

  • Thinkin5

    This is just the latest in decades and decades, centuries and centuries, or people screwing around and ruining their marriages, the public trust, and their careers. Is there a man alive who can resist the temptation of a determined woman? In the end they crack easily. They should try sex instead of waterboarding!

  • Stardiffenderfer

    Thank you for your thoughtful and considered statement.
    I so appreciate the reminder. To err is human, to forgive is Divine.
    The tenth steps says – “When we were wrong, promptly admit it”
    I need this lesson everyday.

  • Ted Z

    General Petraeus, one more top military commander relieved  of his job by the cleansing action of the Obamination Regime. Another soldier who plotted against the Regime has been removed. But I’m sure there are others still plotting military coups against Obama and his gang of thugs from Chicago.
    Its been mentioned elsewhere that Mr. Petraeus is the 5th general in the past 3 weeks or so who lost his job due to sex or alcohol.
     Petraeus succumbed to the dirty tricks used by the CIA to discredit its enemies for decades. Those three main tools are: money, sex and drugs. Or a combination of all.
    History is littered with those who’s human weaknesses took the bait. Look at those members of Congress who fell for it.
    In the case of the Congress, the FBI was used. They are no better than the CIA. Both are tools for which the ruling class use to control those who refuse to “march to Washington’s tune”.
    Expect more cleansing in the future. 
    Sorry I don’t buy the garbage the mainstream media continues to feed the masses.
    As for Robin Young, she is just a tool in the media to be used. 
    William Colby, a former head of the CIA once stated:  “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” 

    • Sarah

      Nuts

      • Just In Time

        I believe you are Sarah. One more sheep falling for the garbage from the mainstream media. Back to your fast food and soap operas.
          

  • Meistga

    Its part of the Benghazi cover up! So he can’t testify against Nobama

  • Sinclair2

    We should remember great people for their greatness, not for their appetites.

    • Katta

      Your head is your house Sinclair too, furnish it. 

      • Sinclair2

        Future epitaphs to be seen at Arlington Cemetary:  He was faithful to his wife and he paid his bills on time.

  • Prosqtr1

    One more example of how we Americans trivialize that which is important, and give significance to that which is trivial. Patreaus, was and continues to be, a good man, a great soldier and an all too flawed human being. His infidelity, now a matter of public record, has very real and incredibly hurtful consequences for the most personal and private part of his life, his marriage. In such matters, I maintain that he is accountable to his wife and family only. It is indeed unfortunate that many of us have convinced ourselves that we are entitled to know every foible or personal failure of our neighbors, leaders, and fellow citizens. It’s petty, it’s hurtful and it’s wrong. It’s also impolite. But then again we are becoming an increasingly impolite society. No national security breaches, no breach of trust with the public he serves; just an incredibly sad tale of one human being hurting another human being in the worst way possible.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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