Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

David Petraeus for President in 2012?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

David Petraeus for President in 2012?

Article excerpt

If General David Petraeus ends America's two longest wars on a victorious note, the call to make a presidential run in 2012 may be hard to resist.

Enter a new potential candidate for the presidency of the United States. He is four-star Gen. David Petraeus, whose military tactics have crushed a democracy-threatening insurgency in Iraq, and whose tactical game plan in Afghanistan may do the same there.

Well, you may say, Americans are not particularly cordial to the idea of a general in the White House. The last one was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. Gen. Colin Powell toyed with the prospect and decided against it. Gen. Wesley Clark sought the Democratic nomination in 2004 and failed.

Petraeus disavows any political ambitions. Even Col. Erik Gunhus, a former Special Forces officer and now Petraeus's public affairs adviser, who spends 15 or 16 hours a day watching and traveling with Petraeus, says the man is not interested. What he really enjoys is schmoozing with intellectuals in mind-expanding discussions.

Petraeus is no mean intellectual himself. He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in the top 5 percent of his class, married the superintendent's daughter, taught for two years at West Point's social sciences department, and picked up master's and PhD degrees at Princeton.

A lithe physical-fitness buff (he challenges young soldiers to push-up contests and usually wins), he has held a string of combat as well as staff assignments. He led the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) in Iraq before becoming overall commander of US and allied forces there. Now he is commander of the US Central Command, embracing some of the most dangerous countries in the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Petraeus may be a soldier-scholar, but he has always responded to the call of duty. If he indeed becomes the victorious mastermind behind America's two longest wars, and his countrymen told him they need him to lead the nation as president, it would be hard for him to turn a deaf ear to the call.

In a punishing schedule, Petraeus likes to explain his strategy against insurgency at campuses around the country, particularly those with large ROTC units. …

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