November 27, 2012

U of L students react to the General Petraeus scandal

By James El-Mallakh–

David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and former four-star commander of the coalition forces in Iraq in 2007, resigned early November after an FBI investigation revealed he had an extramarital affair. Petraeus, age 60, commanded troops in Afghanistan, serving as a top advisor to Obama’s troop surge and drawdown in Afghanistan. Lauded by congress and by his military peers, he is widely seen as being the force that gained control of crumbling situation in Iraq.

To gauge reactions to Petraeus’ abrupt resignation, The Louis

ville Cardinal spoke to several students enrolled in the McConnell Scholars program at U of L, through email. The McConnell Scholars program is an enrichment program for U of L students who have demonstrated leadership potential.

Michael Zeller, is a senior double major in history and political science and a minor in Russian studies:

Q: Do you think his affair will damage the image of the military and/or the Obama administration?

A: I do not think that the affair will damage the image of the Obama administration at all. If it were to come out that the affair had an impact on the security of nation or the CIA, then it might. However, it appears that it will go down as a personal indiscretion that, while it could have caused a serious problem or conflict of interest, it did not. As to the image of the military, it will definitely damage the legacy of General Petraeus himself. The general was a hero to many and previously the image of what a U.S. military leader should be. It may, perhaps, lead to future questions and doubts as to the true integrity of our leaders, but I hope that Americans will not hold it against our military commanders and view this unfortunate incident as the personal indiscretion of one man.

Q: What do you think are going to be long-term consequences of the affair?

A: The long-term consequences of the scandal will be minimal. Most significantly, the scandal forced the departure of one of our country’s foremost experts on modern insurgency warfare. Should the effects of this scandal achieve permanency, as it now appears they will, the current and future administrations will have lost the ability to call on Petraeus’ expertise in an official capacity. That fact is perhaps the most significant and deleterious effect that will come from this scandal.

Samuel Whittaker is a sophomore and is majoring in history and political science:

Q: How do you think it will affect the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan?

A: Given that Director Petraeus was no longer in charge of our conventional military operations in Afghanistan, I cannot see it as presenting a problem for the normal military execution of the war there. In terms of covert operations run by the CIA, I think it is hard to speculate. However, anytime someone in power unexpectedly resigns, there is a learning curve for their successor, and it may take some time for the next CIA director to adjust to the position and effectively take over command of our covert operations in the region. What do you think are going to be long-term consequences of the affair?

I do not feel that there will be any concrete, long-term consequences of the affair. If anything, it may lead Americans to question their leaders and heros and view them more realistically, as imperfect individuals with more similarities than differences, when compared to the rest of us.

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