Editor's Note: Michael O’Hanlon was in Afghanistan earlier this month and is the author of the new ebook, The Wounded Giant: America’s Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity. You can read more from him on the Global Public Square.
By Michael O'Hanlon – Special to CNN
In recent days two reputable news organizations, Politico and the AP, have both made major mistakes in how they described a new book called All In about retired General David Petraeus by former Army officer Paula Broadwell. They have incorrectly stated that he considered resignation last June, when President Obama accelerated the schedule for drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan while Petraeus was still commander there.
Petraeus considered no such thing. I know this from personal conversations with him at the time, from studying his Congressional testimony the day following Obama’s Afghanistan speech back in June - and by reading Broadwell’s book.
There is a line in the book about how “Petraeus pondered resignation.” But as is immediately clear to anyone reading the ensuing passages, he pondered it only in the sense that he had, over the years, given great thought to civil-military relations issues, including the question of when in extreme circumstances an officer should consider resignation; and, in this case, he pondered the idea only because others raised it with him - and he immediately, categorically and firmly rebutted their suggestions and dismissed the option
Petraeus did not agree with the president’s decision. But he understood it and thought he, as well as his successor, could work effectively within its parameters. It was a disagreement, but a polite and professional one, not anywhere near the kind of thing that would have made the general, now CIA director, consider a step like resignation that he clearly considers appropriate only in the most extreme of circumstances.
The AP and Politico should have resisted the temptation for a juicy but completely misleading headline and been more careful. We have enough real debates in Washington; we don’t need invented scandals.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Michael O'Hanlon.