It’s time for former military commander and CIA director David Petraeus to return to public life. His experience and proven abilities are too valuable to waste.
Petraeus made his first public speech Tuesday night since resigning as the nation’s top spy in November, after revelations of an extramarital affair with his biographer. His speech, at the University of Southern California’s annual ROTC dinner, was booked a year earlier. The audience included not only the cadets but members of the active military and the speaker’s wife, Holly Petraeus, who carved out her own career in public service by trying to protect young soldiers and their families from the assorted scam artists who prey on them.
David Petraeus is credited with rescuing and reversing the slowly failing U.S. military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s the architect of an overhaul of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, a body of expertise that the military may have to draw on again, given the deteriorating situation in much of the Mideast and North Africa.
Surely the Obama administration has a place for Petraeus as a senior military and national security adviser. Last September’s killings of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, show that we need warrior-diplomats, especially as radical Islamic groups modeled on al-Qaida have become increasingly aggressive in Africa.
And if retired U.S. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki chooses to step down as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, there will be a need for a tough, take-charge administrator to galvanize that sluggish bureaucracy and clear up a backlog of 600,000 claims. National Public Radio says veterans wait an average of 273 days to receive the benefits they have earned.
Down the road, there is no reason why Petraeus couldn’t return to the intelligence community or even serve as secretary of defense. We have had public servants, including a commander in chief, come back from worse sins.
The now-retired general opened his return to the public forum with a graceful apology and deep regrets for causing “such pain for my family, friends and supporters.” What goes on in Petraeus’ family is personal business. Otherwise, apology accepted.
Scripps Howard News Service