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September 21, 2017

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Despite some personal indiscretions, US still needs Gen. David Petraeus

General and just-resigned CIA head David Petraeus is sitting at a crucial crossroads. This does not refer to the global media glare now seeking to dissect every aspect of his private life, in excruciating detail.

Congressional scrutiny now joins the media mayhem. The circus can be expected to continue for some time, laced with political sanctimony and self-righteousness by both the political and scribbling classes.

The end of the presidential campaign season has brought no cease-fire between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Starting at the top, President Barack Obama and party leaders in both the Senate and House have wasted no time in returning to rancor, finger-pointing and fierce passing of the buck.

Meanwhile, complex defense and national security challenges press for action, but with little likelihood so far of serious attention as the new Congress opens. Looming sequestration of federal funds will mean drastic draconian cuts across the board, including the Pentagon, one of the largest sections of the federal budget.

General Petraeus' career spans the crossroads of civilian and military sectors, including top commands in Afghanistan, Iraq and U.S. Central Command. He spearheaded the successful strategic shift in Iraq which averted defeat and permitted orderly withdrawal from that chaotic country.

Within the military, Petraeus intersects conventional and special unconventional operations. The Army's Special Forces date from the earliest years of the Cold War.

During the 1952 presidential campaign, Republican Party leaders promised to "liberate" Eastern Europe from the occupying Red Army. After the landslide election of the Republican ticket of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, new Army special operations units were formed.

However, President Eisenhower also quickly locked up Special Forces in favor of the conventional military, while reconfirming containment. In the new nuclear-tipped Cold War, Ike did not trust often unpredictable special ops types.

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