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General Petraeus: “This is fine”?

April 13th, 2017, 4:15pm by Sam Wang

For Politics & Polls #39, we were joined by Woodrow Wilson alumnus General David Petraeus. Is the “deep state” a sinister conspiracy, or an institution that prevents insane policies? As Trump brings Syria, North Korea, and Afghanistan to a boil, is it good or bad to have ex-military serve at the highest levels of government? According to Petraeus, maybe…

Link: Politics And Polls #39

Tags: President · U.S. Institutions

7 Comments so far ↓

  • 538 Refugee

    You guys are interesting in your own right but the guest list has been excellent of late.

  • Josh

    Excellent interview. One thing that puzzled me: among the list of threats to national security, no mention of climate change..

  • Pechmerle

    Some observations:
    1. Petraeus shows a very impressive mastery of the full spectrum of foreign policy issues facing the nation.
    2. On Trump personally, Petraeus spoke rather carefully. He is quite clearly aware of Trump’s need for solid advice given Trump’s lack of experience, but is unwilling to emphasize that lack of experience. My perception is that is part of an approach to keep himself available as a possible 2020 Republican candidate for president if Trump stumbles. It’s much too early for Petraeus to be showing his hand on that — so he didn’t.
    3. The question put to Petraeus as to how to break the hyper-partisan logjam in D.C. brought the interesting response that we need to re-energize the center, but he had no better ideas than anyone else how we are going to do that in the current toxic environment. The most obvious answer is that House moderates have to be willing to depart from the “Hastert Rule.” Not going to happen any time soon.
    4. The description of Petraeus at the Wilson School site for this podcast highlighted the many high positions he has held and awards he has received. What was not mentioned there — or in the intro here — is that this is a man with sufficiently poor judgment to have shared classified information with a woman who was concurrently his biographer and mistress. That scandal forced his resignation from his last governmental position as CIA director. So, smart — but trustworthy?
    4. In point of fact, Petraeus is still — for a few more days — on probation as part of the plea bargain he accepted in the criminal investigation of his breach of classified information. Something that might have been mentioned to visitors to PEC?

    • Josh

      Yeah I thought there was a lot of double-speak and subtext in the Trump section. It sounded to me as though Petraeus was saying: “Trump is capable of decision-making and is pragmatic (at least when it comes to his own interests, anyway), so *if* he’s surrounded by adults who have the country’s best interests at heart, maybe it’ll work out?” He also definitely doesn’t want to drag McMaster or Mattis or Kelly because they’re friends and political allies, and who knows when he’ll need their support again (maybe for that 2020 run?).

      It was also interesting when he talked about the disappearance of conservative Democrats and very moderate Republicans; I got the feeling Petraeus would identify politically as being in one of those camps.

    • 538 Refugee

      Four is well known and it wouldn’t serve much of a purpose in this context to dwell on it. In fact it could have been counter productive to bring it up in this context. Sam and Julian are nice guys with an ‘information hobby’ not paid journalists drumming up clicks. Nothing wrong with treating the person in front of you with respect.

  • Anonymous

    Late, but I agree with Pechmerle. I found it to be irresponsible to not mention Petraeus’s indiscretions. Particularly when it came to the subject of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

    Regardless of what you think of Snowden’s actions, at least they were taken for what he perceived to be in the public interests. Petraeus’s actions were taken due to his own selfishness and weakness.

    • Sam Wang

      Condition of the interview. I guess we could have declined the opportunity while he was on campus. I’ll keep your feedback in mind when I am in a position of more power.

      Also, what we did ask about was fairly important, in my opinion.

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