Petraeus was the best, a legend throughout Iraq. He understood the concept of “hearts and minds” as no one else did, was truly gifted at dealing with all the nuances of tribal life and leadership, and oversaw the training of more than 100,000 Iraqis in various positions of law enforcement and military service. Biographers described him as one who “did it right, and won over Mosul.”
He was the main reason that the surge worked, and his ideas withstood the criticism of those who could only theorize. It was, in part because of words like the following that he was our hero:
“You stand there, deployment after deployment, and fight on. You’ve lost relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme conditions, years apart from your kids you’ll never get back, and beaten your body in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand. Then you come home to a nation that doesn’t understand. They don’t understand suffering. They don’t understand sacrifice. They don’t understand why we fight for them.” And, he did so, i.e. fight, right along with his soldiers in some of the toughest times in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Once upon a time, I was one of those who “did not understand,” and it was for people like me that he fought, and inspired others to do so as well. I had the opportunity to be in Iraq when General Petraeus came back and assumed command. I, like many, was relieved by his return to The Great Sandbox.
I am sad for his wife, family, country, and all the families involved in this mess that continues to be stranger than fiction. I don’t excuse his actions, and I know that the chances are very slim of us ever truly knowing what happened. I think it’s entirely possible that on several levels he is being set up, and just last night had a conversation with a former Navy Corpsman who agreed with me. We are by no means alone in our suspicions that much more is going on here than meets the eye.
I do, however, take comfort in the story of his namesake, King David. No one was a better warrior, and few have blown it worse. Yet, of David it was said by the holy God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he was a “man after God’s own heart, save in the matter with Bathsheba.” May this contemporary “4 star David” find his way through this personal and national disaster, tell the truth, and experience redemption. After all that he has done for us, he deserves our prayers to that end.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner