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Jobs & Careers > Military > Stars in Their Eyes ... .

Stars in Their Eyes ... .


Right now, Facebook and the internet are rife with jokes about the Petreus/Broadwell affair with most of the satire and puns directed toward the General.

Someone else commented that when Paula Broadwell spoke of being "embedded" with General David Petreus for a year in Afghanistan that she really added another dimension to the word.

And you can imagine the guffaws the title of her book,  All In:  The Education of General David Petraeus, have drawn.  (By the way, I'll bet this book is flying off the shelves right now.  People love a good sex scandal, now don't they?)


However, General Petraeus' fall from such a lofty place is the archetypical story that a Greek tragedian such as Sophocles or Euripides would have loved to have written.  .

A man in a position of power falls from his place in society to that of being scorned and a buffoon because of his hubris, or pride.  These men often become so convinced that they are invincible that they cannot comprehend they could be human and subject to the same frailties of the remainder of us mortals. Remember Oedipus Rex, the ancient king who fell in love with his own mother.

The General has lamented of recent that this is "terrible, just terrible," and that he is entirely to blame for what happened, much in the same vein as Oedipus Rex, who took the blame and blinded himself because he realized he had not seen what was obviously right before his eyes.

However, the General may not be totally at fault. For instance, what role did his wife play, what role did Paula Broadwell play, and what role did frequent and long separations play?



This is the General's wife, Holly Petraeus.  One commentator stated that she looked like a warden at a women's prison.  Others condemned him for that, stating that it was a "sexist" attitude; and we certainly know that men cheat on their beautiful wives the same as they cheat on their wives who may not have had an interest in coloring their hair, getting contacts, or watching their weight.

We do know that Holly Petraeus has been a long-time advocate for military families and was appointed to a $187,000 a year job by President Obama last year and is now assistant director of a group helping families uprooted by the military. .  

So, yes, I have to feel that a man of his power and prestige probably deserved a wife who took a bit better care of her personal appearance.  Military men take very good care of themselves physically as evidenced by the General who has remained fit through running and exercise.  They also live in an environment, when not in a war zone, that involves a great deal of socializing.


Considering that he married the debutante daughter of a general who was the superintendent of West Point when he was a cadet, in the back of his mind SOMEWHERE, he might have felt she reneged along the way at least partially on the deal.



Then, in 2010, Paula Broadwell reenters his life while he is serving as the allied commander in Afghanistan.  He first had met her in 2005 when she expressed an interest in writing about him at some future date.  He had promised her then to let him know if he could help.  Broadwell, an over-achiever much like Petraeus, is herself a West Point graduate, a fitness fanatic, and a lieutenant colonel specializing in intelligence in the army reserve.  

In high school in Bismarck, North Dakota, she had been valedictorian of her graduating class, homecoming queen, and an all-state basketball player.

Following active duty in the intelligence corps in Germany where she met her husband, she garnered two master's degrees, one in Colorado and one from Harvard. In 2010, she was admitted to the doctoral program at King's College, London.  It was then that she decided to write her doctoral thesis on Petraeus and received permission to be embedded with him for a year in Afghanistan.

There, they instantly bonded over their common interests, running together nearly every day at the compound.  She was 39; he was 59.


Career men and women in the military probably spend as much time separated as they do together.  Especially in times of conflict, when the men cannot bring their wives and families, infidelity is extremely common, by both the military spouse and the spouse left behind.  I know!  I saw it first hand when my husband was in the military.  It's the little dirty secret no one really talks about, but it exists. The Petraeus family supposedly was the exception to that rule that other military families held up as the example of how to have a successful marriage, raise two well-balanced kids and still rise through the ranks. 


So, to place all the blame on any one of these three people seems to me totally unfair.  I see the three of them caught up in a web of circumstance that probably could not have prevented this scenario from playing out any way other than it did.  Lives have been impacted terribly, but I cannot honestly blame any one of the three to the exclusion of the other two.  In fact, I can't blame anyone.

It's life; it happened; and now these families will have to determine how or where to take themselves from here.  All of them deserve our understanding whatever they decide--not derision, sanctimony or judgement. 

posted on Nov 16, 2012 8:37 PM ()


I don't know that I sympathize with any of them except possibly the wife (She is a frump, isn't she?) and all of their children. Adultery is always wrong and usually ends up creating incredible pain and upheaval once discovered. I do agree that the media has gone on a frenzy over this. Way over the top!
comment by dragonflyby on Nov 23, 2012 6:32 AM ()
It's about a man having sex and two women looking for attention--nothing dramatic about that--it has happened so often it now reads like a farce, not a drama.
comment by greatmartin on Nov 18, 2012 11:19 AM ()
Once the threat of national security was laid to rest, the whole thing should have gone away. I don't care who is screwing whom and think that there isn't any area of public or private endeavor that doesn't have a fair share of adultery. I include all branches of government and the military, churches, companies, rich and poor. It's a fact of life. Let's grow up. I don't get anything out of watching explicit sex on screen either. If I'm not in the scene, it's boring. I also think Petraeus should not have resigned.
comment by tealstar on Nov 17, 2012 8:34 PM ()
I'm inclined to agree with you. It is a fact that adultery happens. Think of David and Bathsheba. Wonder what our "holier than thou" Christians would have to say about that one today if one of God's favorite jumped in bed with some beautiful woman, got her pregnant, and sent her husband to the front lines to be sure he was killed.
reply by redimpala on Nov 18, 2012 6:19 AM ()
(*Yawns and rolls over.)
comment by jondude on Nov 17, 2012 3:44 PM ()
Certainly not anything new, is it?
reply by redimpala on Nov 18, 2012 6:20 AM ()
wh*re is what that said.
comment by kristilyn3 on Nov 17, 2012 11:08 AM ()
reply by redimpala on Nov 18, 2012 6:33 AM ()
I think the younger girl is an ugly #####. The wife, well, he married her for whatever reason and if his penis needed to wander he should have divorced her before he went "all in" to someone else.
comment by kristilyn3 on Nov 17, 2012 11:08 AM ()
In a perfect world, Kristy; but this far from a perfect world. Most men want to have their cake and eat it too.
reply by redimpala on Nov 18, 2012 6:21 AM ()
I can't help but think Holly should have kept herself up, Petraeus should
have kept it in his pants and Broadwell should have been business like. Alas, this isn't a perfect world.
comment by elderjane on Nov 17, 2012 10:07 AM ()
Agreed on all points, Jeri. She demonstrated lack of respect for herself by letting herself go as she did. And, as you say, sadly, this is not a perfect world.
reply by redimpala on Nov 18, 2012 6:23 AM ()
Actually I really don't care and find the whole thing boring--nothing like a Greek drama!
comment by greatmartin on Nov 17, 2012 10:00 AM ()
You don't see the parallels to a Greek tragedy? How is it different, Martin?
reply by redimpala on Nov 18, 2012 6:33 AM ()
I think this Paula Broadwell is a trouble-maker, wish she'd have picked someone else to pester.
comment by troutbend on Nov 16, 2012 9:25 PM ()
Maybe so. Some say she is quite aggressive; but I cannot help but feel sorry for her as well. She was married to a successful doctor with two little boys. I suspect this will end her marriage for sure. She is going to lose more than she gains by far.
reply by redimpala on Nov 16, 2012 9:50 PM ()

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