Watching a respected General fall from grace is disheartening. There is no doubt General Petraeus, (ret.) inspired generations of soldiers to march proudly into battle, to become something greater than themselves, that what they were doing mattered, even as political battles raged across the ocean. He became an Army Officer while I was a toddler, and served proudly for 37 years. If we were to read his evaluations, we would find acts of valor and tales so amazing it would seem only a super human or a mythical Greek God could have accomplished so much – yet they would all be true.
This morning I awoke to the morning news and saw news personalities from both ends of the political spectrum embroiled in an argument about what the retired General and ex-CIA chief would say today during his testimony in a closed session in the House of Representatives. They were discussing the Benghazi attack, and the details that still remain unknown even two months later. As typical news anchors do, they were imagining all the possibilities; did the Gen. Petraeus know it was terrorism? Did he tell the White House? Did the White House know about his affair? Did they use the affair to remove him? Did he use the affair as an excuse to resign? If everything is as it appears, the General was a great military hero, had a moment of imperfection, he knew he was under investigation and thus resigned? Does this affect the story he relays at this point?
I watched the news for about five minutes, and found myself quite forlorn. I realized if there is something untoward going on with the attack in Libya, we will never really know. Each side of the issue will spin it their way, and the truth will be difficult to resolve. We will have to wait until the end of life books start coming out with all the sordid details twenty years from now. Why? Because the one person everyone would have believed, the one who most likely is still telling the complete truth has some tarnish on his brass.
Why should leaders in government, or society in general, follow cultural moral guidelines? Why is adultery and fraternization punishable by the UCMJ for members of the military? Yes, the talk always returns to “Good Order and Discipline”. I realize how fallible humans, including myself are. I forgive those who have done me wrong and I hope that I have been forgiven as well. No one is perfect – No one. Perfection is beyond our reach, and yet we should keep reaching. The reason laws exist, in many cities and states, as well as in the military, is in the hope that people will refrain from this transgression. It erodes families; it deteriorates the fiber of our society. Once it is known, once it is out there, it cannot be taken back. From that point on, some people will no longer hear what is said. If they hear it, they will not believe it. I do not know what the outcome of the Benghazi attack will be, but I do hope the actual truth comes out. Beyond that, I pray for the families of General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. They will be ok, but it will be a long road.
An angel, or a General, fallen from grace has a long climb back to the top.