Triumph to downfall

General David Petraeus has had many achievements and accolades under his belt and was unquestionably one of the most respected generals in the US.

“Perhaps no other general in America had been held in such near-universal esteem since General Dwight David Eisenhower, after his victory in World War II,” according to Bob Woodward, author of the book “Obama’s Wars.”

As the Iraq commander, Petraeus had led the efforts that turned the war around, stabilised the country and drastically reduced violence.

The affair that ended Petraeus’ prestigious career as CIA chief came to the limelight during an FBI investigation into a complaint about his biographer Paula Broadwell sending harassing e-mails to another woman close to him.

Petraeus, 60, resigned after acknowledging an affair with the same biographer, Paula Broadwell, 40, a fellow West Point graduate, a former military officer, academic researcher and a fitness enthusiast.


Broadwell, a mother of two, met Petraeus in 2006 when she approached him to write an academic paper for her Ph.D project on his leadership style. Her work was later turned into a biography. At some point, the two began an affair after months of close proximity. In spring of 2012, according to law enforcement sources, Broadwell showed jealous tendency towards another woman-who she thought was devoted to Petraeus and whom she considered a potential rival to the General’s affections.
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The details of the investigation as revealed by the FBI show that the woman at the heart of the inquiry, who led to downfall of Petraeus, had been identified as Jill Kelley, 37, a Florida socialite. Kelley, a volunteer at the military, was a family friend of Petraeus, and apparently became the victim of Broadwell’s jealous wrath.


Broadwell sent series of anonymous e-mails to Kelley, with ‘warnings to stay away from her lover’ being the central theme to all.

News of General Petraeus’ resignation has sent jolts throughout Washington, especially coming just days after President Obama secured a second term in the White House. In an interview to Fox News Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the state intelligence committee, said the news came as a “light bolt.”

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US lawmakers have started to question the confidentiality of the national security affairs, and why they were not informed earlier.

Petraeus’ triumphs have been over-shadowed because of this scandal. The amount of flak that he has drawn has slightly tipped the balance against him, especially for someone who has given so much to US. The loss of sheer intelligence and strategic and tactical acumen to the US because of an affair with his biographer might seem as completely disproportionate to few, if not many.

Petraeus had very few hobbies; no fishing, no hunting, and no golf. He had a Ph.D from Princeton, finishing the course in just two years. The fact that Petraeus preferred staying in Iraq to oversee the war and not attend his father’s funeral in the summer of 2008, shows his true passion for the work he did.

“He put the other workaholics to shame, monitoring military business and his personal e-mail day and night”, according to Bob Woodward.

The General had commanded the NATO forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and was in all likelihood the shrewdest and the most highly acclaimed soldier of his time. Thus he carried an incredible amount of knowledge and experience with him when he took the office as the head of the CIA.

As a director of the CIA,  David Petraeus was expected to set an example for the people under his command; but such extramarital affairs often lead to blackmail and other complications for other intelligence workers.



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The wife and family of Gen Petraeus are described to be deeply hurt after learning about Petraeus’s affair, a former spokesman of Petraeus told ABC news.

Retired Army Col Steve Boylan, the former spokesperson, said Petraeus’ wife was “not exactly pleased” by the revelation, adding that “furious would be an understatement.”

As for Petraeus, the retired four star Army general who resigned as CIA director, “he deeply regrets and knows how much pain this has caused his family,” Boylan added.

“He had a huge job and he felt he was doing great work and that is all gone now.”

The former CIA director has acknowledges his extramarital affair was a “colossal mistake”, according to Boylan.

There is also a probability that Petraeus might face military prosecution on the charges of adultery if officials turn up with any evidence against his claims that the affair began after he left the military.

Boylan backs this claim and says that the affair between General Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, began several months after his retirement from the Army.

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