Usually, Associated Press dispatches about forthcoming books merely present the newsworthy aspect of someone’s biography or memoir and move on. But Paula Broadwell’s mash note to David Petraeus apparently made Kimberley Dozier’s head hurt. (Dozier is the AP’s counterterrorism/intelligence investigative reporter and one of the best defense correspondents in the business.)
This follows the nut, which is about Petraeus reportedly considering resignation* after President Obama decides to end the surge slightly prematurely:
“He had wanted to hand (Marine Corps Gen. John) Allen … a war that had taken a decisive turn,” Broadwell writes of what had been Petraeus’ goal for his successor. “He knew that, despite the hard-fought progress, that wasn’t yet the case.”
Yet that admission also presents a get-out clause when combined with the book’s account that he considered resigning over the rapid drawdown of troops, neatly removing Petraeus from responsibility if the war goes wrong.
And the account does nothing to puncture the mythology his troops built up around him, something an early mentor, retired Gen. Jack Galvin, told Petraeus to embrace.
“They want you to be bigger than you are, so they magnify you,” Galvin said in an interview with Broadwell. “Live up to it all with the highest standards of integrity. You become part of a legend.”
“All In” fits neatly into that.
Damn! “Get-out clause” is not usually a phrase you read in a holiday-season AP dispatch.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the week or so following the publication of Broadwell’s book, when everyone rehashes the counterinsurgency wars with the fervor, rigidity and low stakes of a flare-up in the faculty lounge.
*Update: AP clarifies: the actual claim is that Petraeus was urged to resign; he apparently did not consider resignation himself.