One simply has to marvel at Mr. O’Hanlon’s exercise in hagiography and apologetics. It reminds me of the late Joe Alsop, and his long line of political enthusiasms. See Edwin Yoder’s Joe Alsop’s Cold War and the gossip fest disguised as social history, The Gerogetown Set by Gregg Herken, for a full exposition of those enthusiasms and their exorbitant costs.
One is tempted to say that the new world of Think Tanks has spawned Joe Alsops by the score, careerists, self-promoters more than willing to do the political spade work necessary to manufacture the new heroes, not to speak of their care and maintenance, in the Age of the Internet.
One is also reminded of the Bundy brothers chronicled in The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms by Kai Bird as the policy experts that helped to usher in one of Mr. Alsop’s final political enthusiasms, the Vietnam War.
In that vein this paragraph shouldn’t surprise as an extended apologetic for the Iraq War and it’s political/military enactors :
To be sure, Petraeus didn’t do it alone—and he was always quick to share the credit. Among the people he raved about most, when we used to go for runs or when various think tanks like mine would host him for discussions about the war on his visits home in 2007-2008, were General Stanley McChrystal, who ramped up American special operations orders of magnitude above where it had been before; HR McMaster, then a relatively junior officer among the first to make proper counterinsurgency tactics work in Iraq even before the surge; Seth Moulton and Ann Gildroy Fox, young Marine Corps reservists who tried to catalyze a Shia awakening of sorts in eastern Iraq (Moulton is now a Congressman from Massachusetts); General Ray Odierno and General Lloyd Austin, who directed the surge at the operational level; General Jim Dubik and General Marty Dempsey, who ran the training programs for Iraqi forces in those crucial times; General John Allen, who among other Marine Corps leaders was crucial in nurturing the Sunni awakening process in al-Anbar province; and Petraeus’s main civilian counterpart, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
This dream team refashioned the Iraqi Security Forces and their leadership, then worked with them to bring down violence rates in Iraq an incredible 90 percent and give Iraqi leaders a chance to turn their country around. That change, tragically, was largely squandered in ensuing years, but Petraeus and Crocker et al gave them the chance. On balance, this was arguably the greatest military comeback in American history, after four successive years of losing the war.
Following this is an assurance from Mr. O’ Hanlon of the integrity,veracity and trustworthiness of the Patraeus/Broadwell alliance: This in in the face of the charge of leaking top secret information, for which others have served jail time. Forty thousand dollars and two years probation were the lot of Mr. O’Hanlon’s friend. Such is the political/legal fate of a Hero and National Treasure as narrated by his friend and political defender, who, we are assured , has not made his last contribution to the flourishing of The American Empire.