Con Coughlin: Petraeus Affair ... All the Presidential Men

Roundup: Media's Take

Con Coughlin is an expert on international terrorism and the Middle East.

One of the many consequences of the spectacular implosion of General David Petraeus’s career – which include the humiliation of Holly Petraeus, his wife of 37 years – is that he can kiss goodbye to any hopes he may still have entertained of one day running for the White House.

America has a long and distinguished history of its generals turning their swords into election manifestos, which dates back to the Republic’s founding father, George Washington. Consequently, following a heroic effort to turn around the fortunes of the US’s traumatic experience in post-Saddam Iraq, Gen Petraeus was seen by many of his countrymen more as a leader of the American people than simply the leader of those in uniform. Though less well known, General John Allen might have had ambitions to be seen in the same way, until he too became embroiled in the scandal engrossing America.

Until his mistress Paula Broadwell demolished one of the most distinguished military careers of modern times, Gen Petraeus was regarded as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for the next presidential election in 2016.

The Obama administration certainly saw him in those terms, which is one of the reasons he was sent to head the CIA in the first place, rather than being given the job he really wanted, to be appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of America’s armed forces.

Having saved Iraq with his "surge" strategy, and then been parachuted into Afghanistan to try a similar feat with the Nato mission in the summer of 2010, Gen Petraeus made no secret of his view that, as a reward, he should be made Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. As the highest ranking US military officer, the holder of this coveted position is a constant presence in the White House and acts as the principal adviser to the President in his capacity as commander-in-chief, as well as all the other government departments and agencies involved with national security issues...

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