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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Cult of Petraeus

From the time the Petraeus Affair affair broke, I have occasionally referred to him as "St. Petraeus," in tribute to the overwhelmingly positive media treatment of him going back almost a full decade.   Glenn Greenwald has taken it a bit beyond, noting our media's "veneration" of all things military.  Now Spencer Ackerman has now written a piece at Wired on how he was admitted to the cult himself.  He recalls "a florid piece I wrote for this blog when Petraeus retired from the Army last year. ('The gold standard for wartime command' is one of the harsher judgments in the piece.)  I was so blind to Petraeus, and my role in the mythmaking that surrounded his career....

"The biggest irony surrounding Petraeus’ unexpected downfall is that he became a casualty of the very publicity machine he cultivated to portray him as superhuman. I have some insight into how that machine worked."

He makes this observation about Paula Braodwell's "publicity" spin role:
On [Tom] Ricks’ blog, she described the complete flattening of a southern Afghan village called Tarok Kolache, confidently asserting that not only was no one killed under 25 tons of U.S. air and artillery strikes, but that the locals appreciated it. Danger Room’s follow-up reporting found that the strikes were even more intense: two other villages that the Taliban had riddled with bombs, were destroyed as well. But Broadwell, who was traveling around Afghanistan and working on a biography of Petraeus, didn’t grapple with the implications of Petraeus shifting away from counterinsurgency, let alone the fortunes of the Afghanistan war.
 Note:  My e-book on Obama-Romney race has just been published.  "Tricks, Lies, and Videotape" covers the contest right up to Election Night and the aftermath, and includes over 500 clickable links to the most important articles, blog posts and videos.  Just $2.99.  Enjoy.  

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