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Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

Petraeus’ Infidelity
Was Just a Fling

By Jonas Nonnenmann

The gravest sin Petraeus committed was supporting the Iraq War.

Translated By Ron Argentati

13 November 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Germany - Frankfurter Rundschau - Original Article (German)

The head of the CIA resigned because of a sexual fling? What a joke! The only scandal about his affair was the fact that anyone would call it a scandal.

David Petraeus is no hero, and he is certainly no saint. After the 9/11 attacks prompted then-President George W. Bush to invade Iraq, Petraeus marched right in with him, although the war was illegal according to international law and based on false reports of imaginary weapons of mass destruction.

In the United States, Bush's one-time favorite general is nonetheless revered to this day. The bit of liberal criticism (General “Betray Us”) that was directed at him just bounced harmlessly off. Petraeus stuck with the logic of the military: Orders are orders, and they must be obeyed. Even in the Obama administration, Petraeus flourished in the wake of Bush's inglorious end, first in Iraq, then as commander-in-chief in Afghanistan and finally as head of the CIA.

Mostly, he was good at his job. As a commander, he continuously preached respect for the civilian population. He didn't become a target for criticism until the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, where the ambassador and three staff members were killed.

Now Petraeus has resigned—albeit for a completely different reason. The perfect general quit the battlefield because he—Oh, no!—had an extramarital affair with his biographer, a brunette elite soldier who apparently knew how to service a four-star general as well as she did her own pistol.

The Disclosure of Secrets Is Only an Assumption

New revelations emerge daily, the latest less meaningful than the one before. One of her neighbors told the New York Times that Paula likes to dine by candlelight in the evening. Even the German press is chock full of intimacies about the alleged temptress.

For Petraeus to be taken down by such a minor affair is pure satire. One little fling is enough for American puritans to decide he's not fit to do his job? It’s absurd. It would be superhuman if someone like Petraeus, so famous and often far from home for extended periods, were to wait faithfully for his wife and she for him.

Another so-called argument in favor of his departure is the possibility that his paramour may have divulged military secrets. There is no factual proof that this was the case, and a love affair also doesn't justify that assumption. Or is it already a given that he betrayed his country the minute he unzipped his trousers?

Gossip certainly has its place, but we should remain aware that there's a huge difference between divorce wars, real wars and political wars; consequently, a general's pillow talk is about as relevant to his military capabilities as Mozart's bowel movements were to the success of his opera “The Magic Flute.”

A public lie, such as what Bill Clinton said about his relationship with Monica Lewinski, is a valid reason to step down from office. A private faux pas isn't.



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