Politics
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the situation in Afghanistan.  (AP Photo) Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the situation in Afghanistan. (AP Photo)  

Inside the mind of General Petraeus

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

History will remember retired Army General David Petraeus, now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as “the model soldier-scholar-diplomat,” argues Paula Broadwell, author of the recently released “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”

He was “the top-rated soldier in every one of his assignments over nearly 40 years,” Broadwell said in an interview with The Daily Caller.

“It clearly was not a coincidence or accident that he was selected for six straight commands as a general officer, five of them in combat.”

But his battlefield success was matched by his intellectual achievements, she argues.

“A star-man (top 5 percent) at West Point, as well as a varsity letterman and cadet captain, top of his class in military schools and a PhD in international relations at Princeton, he later became the chief intellectual author of a counterinsurgency doctrine that helped to usher in an era of organizational change,” she explained.

Petraeus was also uniquely adept at public diplomacy for a military man, Broadwell says.

“Indeed, his élan in engagements with world leaders complemented by his vision for global outreach have invited many to liken him to Eisenhower or Marshall,” she said. (RELATED: More on David Petraeus)

But what may be Petraeus’ most lasting legacy, says Broadwell, is the “next generation of leaders” he inspired — the “Petraeus Generation.”

“[T]his generation of leaders, many of whom are his mentorees, will inevitably help shape the Army―and national security policies―of the future,” she said.

“Indeed, Petraeus has worked hard to cultivate and inspire troopers at every rank. He is a relentless mentor; Petraeus takes time to clear out his inbox each night, responding personally to many requests: to write a letter of recommendation for grad school or support a worthy wounded warrior cause. He often helps aspiring doctoral students edit their research papers.”

But still actively engaged in the national security debate as director of the CIA, perhaps it is too soon to talk about Petraeus’ legacy.

“I certainly don’t think he is done influencing various aspects of U.S. national security policy!” Broadwell exclaimed.

Check out TheDC’s interview with Broadwell below:

What inspires or motivates General Petraeus?

“Results, boy!” David Petraeus’s father used to say. His father’s voice continues to resonate with him — I suspect even in his new role as director of the CIA. His father, an accidental immigrant, was a sailor from Holland who was at sea when the Nazis invaded Holland. Unable to return to his homeland, Sixtus Petraeus landed in the U.S. and stayed, later joining the U.S. Merchant Marines and continuing to serve throughout WWII. A serious seafarer with high standards, Sixtus would not tolerate excuses from his son. The young Petraeus was driven to excel and — like many of us — please his parents.

I think the idea of the Army’s old motto, “Be All You Can Be,” appealed to Petraeus as well, as it did to so many of us who served. Petraeus thrived at West Point and in soldierly and scholarly pursuits, in part because others recognized early on that he had great potential. He received the top block/rating in virtually every one of his Officer Evaluation Reports over his decades of service.

Beyond that, being consequential in the world and contributing to organizational success and, later, national security success, has always been a goal for Petraeus in every job he has served. On several occasions he has quoted Teddy Roosevelt’s observation that, “Life’s greatest gift is hard work, worth doing.” He believes that — and to him, work worth doing means missions of consequence to our country and service to our nation. Ultimately, that’s what motivates him.

What inspires him is the others with whom he is privileged to work who are also committed to serving our nation, whether in uniform or as the so-called “silent warriors” of the CIA.