Petraeus, Obama, extramarital affairs, and extra-judicial killings

Readers here might wonder why, up until now, I have posted nothing on the Petraeus affair. After all, it’s the story now gripping Washington.

The sudden departure of the director of the CIA in such ignominious circumstances marks not only the apparent end of a much celebrated career but likewise the end of speculation that Petraeus might be a latter-day Eisenhower and a future president.

In many ways the story appears utterly mundane. A middle-aged man succumbs to the irresistible attraction of a younger woman who apparently had an insatiable appetite for listening to the general talk about himself. Vanity heralds foolishness.

But there’s another story much more compelling yet which most likely will never be told. In the same week that Petraeus tendered his resignation and President Obama took 24 hours to respond, both men were involved in a decision of much greater magnitude: the issuing of orders to kill three Al Qaeda suspects. In a drone attack just outside the capital of Yemen on Wednesday morning, Adnan al-Qadhi, Rabeaa Lahib and Radwan al-Hashdhi were killed and others were injured including a boy.

It seems reasonable to assume that President Obama’s decision to authorize a drone strike in Yemen this week weighed much less heavily on his mind than the departure of the CIA chief. The incineration of Adnan al-Qadhi and his associates was simply of less consequence than the relationship between General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell.

Washington becomes ever more like The Sopranos, where casual killings provoke less anguish than fraught family relations.

The Washington Post reports:

Petraeus, who retired from the military last year, is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which classifies adultery as a crime.

Practically speaking, however, the odds are extremely low that the military would prosecute a retired officer for having an affair, said Eugene R. Fidell, a prominent military law expert who teaches at Yale University.

“They’re as close to zero as you can get,” Fidell said. “It would have to be a grave matter before the executive branch would prosecute a retiree.”

Petraeus married Holly two months after graduating from West Point. His courtship was seen as audacious because of her father’s rank at the elite military academy. They have two children, Stephen, who became an Army officer, and Anne.

Petraeus has frequently praised his wife in public appearances for her sacrifices and contributions to his career, and he characterized his return to Washington as an opportunity for them to be closer after his years-long assignments overseas.

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Comments

  1. 60 is not middle-aged.

  2. Sounds like you might be young enough to think that everyone over 40 looks old. Petraeus just turned 60 but he isn’t old enough to claim social security. By the time most people reach their 50s they discover that to be middle-aged is to move towards a continuously receding horizon – believe me. But objectively, I’d also say middle age precedes retirement and that generally starts at 65.

  3. Actually, I looked up the definition of middle-aged before commenting and the definition was all over the place. Some agreed with the more traditional definition of 35 to 54 (U.S. Census for example) others define it as the third quarter of the average life span (U.S. would be 38-57) and others agreed with your definition. Personally, I find it stretching the definition to call someone who is 64 middle-aged (or 60 as in this case); I’ll stick to the traditional definition. I wish I was looking at the better side of 40, USMC 71’ to 75.

  4. “Washington becomes ever more like The Sopranos, where casual killings provoke less anguish than fraught family relations.”

    Well there is that and this “sixty is not middle aged”.
    Indeed a bit of intersecting banter for those who hover in a conditional space of time frame to which they might belong. All though AARP plants a seed, for whatever its reasons, at age 50 I will go along with Paul’s middle age precedes retirement and that generally starts at 65.
    However, middle age is only for a short term then- as after 65 one, according to some dictionaries the term “senior citizen” kicks in for people over the age of 65, as a courtesy to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as “citizens” of society, of senior rank.
    I take it neither of you have earned that acknowledgement as yet. Being senior has waned a lot from my generation of growing up but still the respect does come through. In the country of my residence, along with the age time frame, comes the appellation of being addressed as ‘uncle’- in this culture a very pleasing honor. One of the fruits of those Golden Years of retirement.

  5. Watching the chips fall. Perhaps a purge might be under way, this incident with the good General (Ret.) though he may be, along with an Admiral recently, we shall see how many others fall. Maybe the conspiracy followers are on to something?