The revelations about Petraeus' affair have prompted many people to question the general's fervent outreach to the media -- and the media's eagerness to return the favor. But some journalists were ahead of their time. In an article on Petraeus for the New Statesman back in 2010, Mehdi Hasan noted that "[t]he Congressional and media hawks in the United States have acquiesced in the rise and political empowerment of a new cadre of generals and commanders committed to pushing policies -- such as so-called small wars, based on counter-insurgency principles -- that the US public has usually been sceptical of." In the Daily Beast, Matt Yglesias argued that Petraeus' genius lay in lowering expectations. In Iraq, Yglesias explained, the military leader had achieved a "largely a postmodern victory, a triumph of spin, narrative formation, and political psychology that ‘succeeded' largely in extricating the country from a toxic political deadlock."
Perhaps the most colorful critique came a year later, when Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) quoted Michael Hastings' Charlie Sheen analogy on the House floor. "General Petraeus is giving us the Charlie Sheen counter-insurgency strategy, which is to give exclusive interviews to every major network, and to keep saying ‘we're winning,' and hope the public actually agrees with you," she declared.
This time around, Petraeus isn't going anywhere near a camera.
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