P4 was one of the Savior Generals - Cats who saved the sitch when it was prett well lost -
Gen Ridgway’s salvation of Korea or Gen Sherman’s sudden taking of Atlanta that saved 16 and the Union cause before the 1864 elections
Almost like Beowulf - a hero from the sea
The Iraq war was an unmitigated disaster, with no apparent hope in sight. Confronted with a potent insurgency, the occupying forces often fought back with a brute force that backfired, further alienating a hostile population. Along came the Princeton-educated Petraeus, preaching the gospel of counterinsurgency. Defeating an indigenous resistance, the thinking went, required a unique approach to warfare.
To oversimplify, it was less about killing the enemy than winning over and protecting the local population; less about guns and bombs than about hearts and minds. That meant forging personal relationships, training local security forces and investing in expensive development projects. In short, it meant nation building. It was often described as the Petraeus Doctrine.
P4 is forever frozen as the hero of 2007–08
Battered by the congressional hearings (Hillary Clinton’s “suspension of disbelief”) and ad hominem attack ads in the New York Times (“General Betray US”), he nonetheless pressed ahead and broke the back of the insurgency — in part because of his competence, his unmatched reputation, and the talented circle around him. (The fact that Divine Intervention saved him for the task only added to King David"s je nee sais quo)And shaped diplopolititary events
After he came down from Olympus in 2008, his subsequent billets in Afghanistan and at the CIA took on political significance, given 44’s paradoxical and obsessive desire to affect his career by keeping him close by, while failing to appoint him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or supreme NATO commander — appointments that were offered to those of lesser stature. The truth was always that he sought to serve his country regardless of politics.
The final chapter of the Afghanistan war has yet to be written, but the U.S. seems to have run out of patience — both with that war and with the expensive and grinding work of counterinsurgency.
Even before he was sworn in as CIA director in September 2011, Petraeus was bending the rules of his own doctrine in Afghanistan. He reversed McChrystal’s counterinsurgency-inspired limits on air strikes, which can cause heavy civilian casualties, and bombed the hell out of the Taliban. He also oversaw a steep increase in Special Forces raids and armed drone strikes. Petraeus brought that attitude to the CIA, fighting to expand the spy agency’s drone fleet so that it can more easily kill suspected terrorists from Pakistan to Yemen to North Africa.
Those sort of targeted assassinations aren’t quite the opposite of counterinsurgency. (That would be carpet bombing.) But they fly in the face of the doctrine in multiple ways. Drone strikes — which often kill unlucky civilians — enrage local populations in countries like Pakistan and Yemen and risk “damaging and counterproductive” effects for U.S. interests. At least one recent would-be terrorist who plotted to attack the U.S. said he was motivated by drone attacks in Pakistan. Counterinsurgency requires huge numbers of troops to protect and build relationships with local populations.
Drone-based counterterrorism strategy requires few if any boots on the ground. Death is rained down anonymously, usually with no explanation or apology for collateral damage.
This is the new American strategy. Hearts and minds have been replaced by drones and SEALs. Working a tribal council is a less valuable skill than piloting a Predator. By the end of his career — in a country exhausted by war and slashing its budget — Petraeus had embraced that shift. He had lowered his profile too far to become the drone war’s public face.
But to those watching closely, the Petraeus Doctrine had morphed into something different.
Counterinsurgency was finished.
Much like P4’s career.
Pic - "“Mr. President, this isn’t double-down This is all-in.”