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Petraeus: A Phony Hero for a Phony War

Opinion from the New York Times
By Lucian K. Truscott IV

FASTIDIOUSNESS is never a good sign in a general officer. Though strutting military peacocks go back to Alexander’s time, our first was MacArthur, who seemed at times to care more about how much gold braid decorated the brim of his cap than he did about how many bodies he left on beachheads across the Pacific. Next came Westmoreland, with his starched fatigues in Vietnam. In our time, Gen. David H. Petraeus has set the bar high. Never has so much beribboned finery decorated a general’s uniform since Al Haig passed through the sally ports of West Point on his way to the White House.

“What’s wrong with a general looking good?” you may wonder. I would propose that every moment a general spends on his uniform jacket is a moment he’s not doing his job, which is supposed to be leading soldiers in combat and winning wars — something we, and our generals, stopped doing about the time that MacArthur gold-braided his way around the stalemated Korean War.

And now comes “Dave” Petraeus, and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. No matter how good he looked in his biographer-mistress’s book, it doesn’t make up for the fact that we failed to conquer the countries we invaded, and ended up occupying undefeated nations.

The genius of General Petraeus was to recognize early on that the war he had been sent to fight in Iraq wasn’t a real war at all. This is what the public and the news media — lamenting the fall of the brilliant hero undone by a tawdry affair — have failed to see. He wasn’t the military magician portrayed in the press; he was a self-constructed hologram, emitting an aura of preening heroism for the ever eager cameras.

C o n t i n u e @ T h e N e w Y o r k T i m e s

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I strongly object

to this person's remarks about General Douglas MacArthur. He knows nothing about him. He obviously, has never read his speech given at MacArthur Park. Harry Truman fired MacArthur because he wanted to win in Korea and he knew how. We were in Korea because of our membership in the United Nations, as we were in Vietnam.(SEATO Treaty.) These are the "no-win" police actions. Only we call them wars. How long have we been in Iraq, Afghanistan? Also the United Nations.Are they wars? Itaq is called, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and Afghanistan, "Operation Enduring Freedom." Why are we still involved with the U.N.?

We are in another war for our Independence.


might actually have redeemed his abysmal, life-squandering performance in WW II if he had thought of his oath and loudly refused to lead our troops in an undeclared, unconstitutional war in Korea.

Stopped reading at "...every

Stopped reading at "...every moment a general spends on his uniform jacket is a moment he’s not doing his job..."

The writer thinks Generals actually work on their uniforms? They have aids for that.

Hmm, so now that he is down

Hmm, so now that he is down in the dumps over an affair some pseudo-journalists crawl out from under the cracks to take cheap shots.

The biggest problems with our wars... is our political leadership, not our military leadership.

Sure, the guy has his flaws and shortcomings - but as a military man he did the best job he could with a crummy situation, and less soldiers getting killed and maimed was the result.

He was a good soldier, and apparently a poor CIA director and husband. /shrug

Govt figures need to be criticized and exposed when applicable, but unwarranted criticism and ad homimem attacks just creates noise. This article is a good example of noise.


The simple fact that this guy claims General MacArthur was our first self involved general officer tells me that he know very little about the history he attempts to discuss.


"The genius of General Petraeus was to recognize early on that the war he had been sent to fight in Iraq wasn’t a real war at all."

Tell that to the soldiers and marines that have died or returned without limbs...a$$clown.

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

I would maybe vote this up if

I would maybe vote this up if it wasn't for the writer's flawed history on the Korean War. It was Harry Trumen and John Foster Dulles who did't give the military a clear objective in Korea (just like Vietnam) that created the failures, not MacArthur. Ultimately, it is the commander-in-chief who bears the responsiblity for wars, but too often they get all the credit for the victories, but not the losses.