General David Petraeus for President

This is America. Voting is a privilege. Every American citizen should be equally free to vote. I am making myself a promise that I will take the privilege of voting much more seriously. I will be an informed voter. I will vote for candidates with real qualifications and great "doable" ideas for the future. One concern I have is that neither of the current assumed candidates have military backgrounds.  In todays environment we need someone in the White House with military experience. We have had some great presidents with impressive military backgrounds. We need one now. We need  David Petraeus.

The cover picture for this blog post is of General David Petraeus and me, Darrell Griffin, at his house in Virginia. I visited the General on my way home from my embed with my son's combat unit in Baghdad. General Petraeus was instrumental in securing Department of Defense and Congressional approval for my embed with my son's unit. I embedded with my son's unit after he was killed in action so that I could finish a book we were writing together, "Last Journey." 

Here is a list of U.S. Presidents with military experience, including their branch of service, rank, age while serving as President, and their greatest accomplishments:

1. George Washington

  • Branch of Service: Continental Army
  • Rank: General and Commander-in-Chief
  • Age While Serving as President: 57-65 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Establishing the foundation of the United States government.
    • Presiding over the Constitutional Convention.
    • Setting precedents for the executive branch, including the two-term limit.

2. Thomas Jefferson

  • Branch of Service: Virginia Militia
  • Rank: Colonel
  • Age While Serving as President: 57-65 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Authoring the Declaration of Independence.
    • The Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.
    • The Lewis and Clark Expedition.

3. James Madison

  • Branch of Service: Virginia Militia
  • Rank: Colonel
  • Age While Serving as President: 57-65 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Leading the nation during the War of 1812.
    • Supporting the ratification of the Constitution.
    • Co-authoring The Federalist Papers.

4. James Monroe

  • Branch of Service: Continental Army
  • Rank: Major
  • Age While Serving as President: 58-66 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • The Monroe Doctrine, asserting American influence in the Western Hemisphere.
    • Acquisition of Florida from Spain.
    • Missouri Compromise, balancing free and slave states.

5. Andrew Jackson

  • Branch of Service: Continental Army, Tennessee Militia
  • Rank: Major General
  • Age While Serving as President: 61-69 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Defeating the British in the Battle of New Orleans.
    • Implementing policies that led to the removal of Native American tribes (Trail of Tears).
    • Destroying the Second Bank of the United States.

6. William Henry Harrison

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Major General
  • Age While Serving as President: 68 years old (died in office after one month)
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Military leadership in the War of 1812.
    • Short presidency, no significant accomplishments due to early death.

7. John Tyler

  • Branch of Service: Virginia Militia
  • Rank: Captain
  • Age While Serving as President: 51-55 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Annexation of Texas.
    • Establishing a precedent for presidential succession.

8. James K. Polk

  • Branch of Service: Tennessee State Militia
  • Rank: Colonel
  • Age While Serving as President: 49-53 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Expansion of U.S. territory through the Oregon Treaty and Mexican-American War.
    • Establishing the Department of the Interior.

9. Zachary Taylor

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Major General
  • Age While Serving as President: 64-65 years old (died in office)
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Leadership during the Mexican-American War.
    • Advocacy against the expansion of slavery.

10. Franklin Pierce

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Brigadier General
  • Age While Serving as President: 48-52 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed for popular sovereignty on the issue of slavery.
    • Gadsden Purchase, acquiring land from Mexico.

11. James Buchanan

  • Branch of Service: Pennsylvania Militia
  • Rank: Private
  • Age While Serving as President: 65-69 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Attempting to maintain peace between North and South.
    • His administration saw the Dred Scott decision.

12. Abraham Lincoln

  • Branch of Service: Illinois Militia
  • Rank: Captain
  • Age While Serving as President: 52-56 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Leading the nation through the Civil War.
    • Emancipation Proclamation, which began the process of freedom for slaves.
    • Preservation of the Union.

13. Andrew Johnson

  • Branch of Service: Tennessee Militia
  • Rank: Brigadier General
  • Age While Serving as President: 56-60 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • First president to be impeached.
    • His efforts at Reconstruction were controversial and largely unsuccessful.

14. Ulysses S. Grant

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: General of the Army
  • Age While Serving as President: 46-54 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Civil Rights Act of 1875.
    • Efforts to stabilize the post-Civil War economy.
    • Enforcement of civil rights and suppression of the Ku Klux Klan.

15. Rutherford B. Hayes

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Brevet Major General
  • Age While Serving as President: 54-58 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Ending Reconstruction through the Compromise of 1877.
    • Civil service reform efforts.

16. James A. Garfield

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Major General
  • Age While Serving as President: 49 years old (died in office after six months)
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Advocacy for civil rights.
    • Initiating reforms in the post office department.

17. Chester A. Arthur

  • Branch of Service: New York Militia
  • Rank: Brigadier General
  • Age While Serving as President: 51-55 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Civil service reform through the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.
    • Modernization of the U.S. Navy.

18. Benjamin Harrison

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Brevet Brigadier General
  • Age While Serving as President: 55-59 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Sherman Antitrust Act.
    • Expanding the Navy and promoting civil rights legislation.

19. William McKinley

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Brevet Major
  • Age While Serving as President: 54-58 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Leading the nation during the Spanish-American War.
    • Annexation of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

20. Theodore Roosevelt

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Colonel
  • Age While Serving as President: 42-50 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Progressive reforms including antitrust actions and consumer protection.
    • The Panama Canal construction.
    • Conservation efforts, establishing national parks and forests.

21. Harry S. Truman

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: Captain
  • Age While Serving as President: 60-68 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Ending World War II with the use of atomic bombs on Japan.
    • Establishing the United Nations.
    • Marshall Plan for European recovery.

22. Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Army
  • Rank: General of the Army
  • Age While Serving as President: 62-70 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Interstate Highway System.
    • Ending the Korean War.
    • Promoting civil rights by sending federal troops to enforce school desegregation.

23. John F. Kennedy

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Age While Serving as President: 43-46 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Cuban Missile Crisis resolution.
    • Establishing the Peace Corps.
    • Advancing civil rights and initiating the space race.

24. Lyndon B. Johnson

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant Commander
  • Age While Serving as President: 55-60 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Great Society programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    • War on Poverty initiatives.

25. Richard Nixon

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant Commander
  • Age While Serving as President: 56-61 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Opening diplomatic relations with China.
    • SALT I treaty and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union.
    • Establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

26. Gerald Ford

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant Commander
  • Age While Serving as President: 61-64 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Pardoning Richard Nixon.
    • Helsinki Accords improving relations with the Soviet bloc.
    • Navigating post-Watergate government reforms.

27. Jimmy Carter

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Age While Serving as President: 52-56 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.
    • Energy policy reforms.
    • Advancing human rights policies globally.

28. George H.W. Bush

  • Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)
  • Age While Serving as President: 64-68 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Leadership during the Gulf War.
    • NAFTA negotiations.
    • Signing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

29. George W. Bush

  • Branch of Service: Texas Air National Guard
  • Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Age While Serving as President: 54-62 years old
  • Greatest Accomplishments:
    • Response to the 9/11 attacks.
    • War on Terror, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    • No Child Left Behind Act.

This list includes presidents who had notable military careers and provides an overview of their significant achievements during their time in office.

The world is a scary place right now. We need a person who has a strong military background. The most qualified person that comes to mind is General David Petraeus. 

General David Petraeus

Early Years: The Foundation Of General Petraeus's Life   

David Howell Petraeus was born on November 7, 1952, in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. Growing up in a modest household with his Dutch immigrant father and American mother, Petraeus's early years were characterized by an ethos of hard work and discipline. His father, Sixtus Petraeus, was a sea captain who instilled in young David the values of perseverance and resilience. These formative experiences laid the groundwork for what would become a storied military career. [Sources: 0, 1, 2]

Petraeus attended Cornwall Central High School, where he excelled academically and athletically. His drive for excellence earned him an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Graduating in 1974 in the top five percent of his class, Petraeus demonstrated early on his aptitude for leadership and strategic thinking. [Sources: 3, 4, 5]

His intellectual curiosity didn't stop at military strategy; he later earned a Ph.D. in International Relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. This blend of rigorous academic training and practical military experience became cornerstones of his professional journey. [Sources: 5, 6]

 

Princeton

The foundation built during these early years prepared Petraeus for the numerous challenges he would face as one of America's most prominent military leaders, shaping his approach to both personal conduct and public service. [Sources: 7]

Rising Through The Ranks: Petraeus's Military Career

David Petraeus's military career is a testament to dedication, strategic brilliance, and unwavering commitment to his country. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1974, he embarked on a journey marked by rapid ascension through the ranks. His early years saw him serving in various capacities within the infantry, where his leadership skills and tactical acumen quickly became evident. [Sources: 6, 8]

Petraeus earned a reputation for intellectual rigor, furthered by his advanced degrees from Princeton University and Georgetown University. These academic pursuits complemented his military expertise, making him a formidable strategist. His role as a commander during the Iraq War was particularly notable; he implemented counterinsurgency strategies that significantly altered the course of U.S. operations in the region. [Sources: 9, 10, 11]

In 2007, Petraeus was appointed Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing military operations across the Middle East. His tenure here solidified his status as one of America's most respected military leaders. Later, as Director of the CIA from 2011 to 2012, Petraeus continued to demonstrate exceptional leadership until his resignation due to personal indiscretion. [Sources: 12, 13, 14]

Throughout his career, Petraeus exhibited qualities essential for presidential leadership: decisiveness under pressure, strategic vision, and an unwavering commitment to national security. [Sources: 15]

A Moment Of Controversy: The Public Indiscretion

General David Petraeus, a figure often lauded for his military acumen and leadership, experienced a significant fall from grace in 2012. This moment of controversy centered around an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. The relationship not only ended Petraeus’s tenure as CIA Director but also tarnished his otherwise illustrious career. The indiscretion was revealed during an FBI investigation into potential security breaches, as Broadwell had access to classified information through her close association with Petraeus. I remember when the Petraeus story hit the press. A couple of quotes come to mind in this situation. One is a quote from the Bible that says, "Ye without sin cast the first stone.  [Sources: 12, 16, 17, 18]

The phrase "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone" (often rendered as "Ye without sin cast the first stone") is found in the New Testament of the Bible, specifically in the Gospel of John, chapter 8, verses 1-11.

Meaning: He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone

The phrase is spoken by Jesus in a situation where a woman caught in adultery is brought before him by the scribes and Pharisees. They aim to test Jesus by asking whether she should be stoned according to the Law of Moses. Jesus responds by saying, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." This statement highlights the theme of mercy, forgiveness, and the recognition of one's own imperfections. It suggests that no one is without sin and therefore no one has the right to judge or condemn another person harshly.

Biblical Context:

The full passage from John 8:1-11 (NIV) is as follows:

  1. but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
  2. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
  3. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group
  4. and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
  5. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
  6. They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

  1. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
  2. Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
  3. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
  4. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
  5. “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

This passage emphasizes the themes of compassion, self-reflection, and forgiveness, teaching that judgment should be tempered with mercy and that all are in need of grace.

The fallout was swift and severe. Petraeus resigned from his position at the CIA, acknowledging the affair as a "serious error" and expressing deep regret for the pain it caused his family and colleagues. Public reactions were mixed; some felt betrayed by a man held in high esteem, while others empathized with his human frailty. [Sources: 19]

Despite this personal lapse, many argue that it should not overshadow Petraeus’s extensive contributions to national security and military strategy. His ability to navigate complex geopolitical landscapes remains highly regarded. Nonetheless, this chapter of his life serves as a poignant reminder that even the most disciplined leaders are susceptible to personal failings—a humbling aspect of the human condition. [Sources: 17, 20]

Our pastor at Shepherd of the Hills in Porter Ranch, CA once said during a sermon, "Lord, I am not sinless, I just try to sin less." This little phrase keeps the concept of believers sinning real.

Leadership And Strategy: Key Achievements In Service

David Petraeus has long been recognized as one of the most influential military leaders of his generation, with a career marked by strategic innovation and leadership under pressure. Rising through the ranks of the U.S. Army, Petraeus played a pivotal role in reshaping military tactics and doctrine during some of America's most challenging conflicts. [Sources: 5, 21]

One of his most notable achievements was his command during the Iraq War, where he spearheaded the implementation of the counterinsurgency strategy known as "the surge." This approach involved not just increased troop levels but also a renewed focus on securing and winning over local populations. His efforts were instrumental in reducing violence and stabilizing key regions, earning him widespread acclaim both domestically and internationally. [Sources: 0, 22]

Petraeus's tenure as Director of the CIA further showcased his strategic acumen. Under his leadership, the agency undertook significant operations that bolstered national security, including efforts to dismantle terrorist networks. His ability to navigate complex geopolitical landscapes while maintaining operational integrity underscored his formidable expertise. [Sources: 23, 24, 25]

Despite facing personal challenges, Petraeus's professional journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to service. His contributions have left an indelible mark on U.S. military strategy and intelligence operations, reflecting a legacy defined by resilience and visionary leadership. [Sources: 26]

Qualifications For The Presidency: Analyzing Petraeus's Potential

General David Petraeus's extensive career in both military and civilian roles offers a compelling case for his qualifications as a potential President of the United States. His leadership in commanding the Multi-National Force-Iraq and subsequently serving as Director of the CIA showcases his adeptness in handling complex, high-stakes situations. Petraeus's strategic acumen, demonstrated through his orchestration of the Iraq War troop surge, reflects an ability to navigate intricate geopolitical landscapes—an essential skill for any head of state. [Sources: 27, 28, 29]

Moreover, Petraeus's academic credentials bolster his suitability for presidential office. With a Ph.D. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, he possesses not only practical military experience but also a deep theoretical understanding of international relations and public policy. This combination provides him with a well-rounded perspective that is crucial for effective governance. [Sources: 6, 27, 30]

However, any discussion of Petraeus’s qualifications must also acknowledge his one public indiscretion—a scandal involving classified information shared with his biographer—which raises questions about judgment and integrity. Yet, many argue that this lapse does not overshadow decades of dedicated service. [Sources: 31]

In summation, while no candidate is without flaws, General Petraeus’s distinguished career and intellectual rigor position him as an exceptionally qualified individual for the presidency. [Sources: 6]

Family Ties: Meet The Petraeus Family

David Petraeus's life has been deeply intertwined with his family, whose support and sacrifices have been instrumental in his journey. Raised in a disciplined household, he adopted many values from his father, a Dutch sea captain who instilled in him a strong sense of duty and resilience. These foundational principles would later be mirrored in his own family. [Sources: 32, 33]

Petraeus married Holly Knowlton, whose father was the superintendent at West Point during Petraeus's time as a cadet. Holly herself is an accomplished individual with a career spanning various public service roles, including financial counseling for military families. Their partnership has weathered numerous challenges, including David’s intense military career and his public indiscretion that momentarily overshadowed his professional achievements. [Sources: 34, 35]

Together, David and Holly have two children: Anne and Stephen. Anne serves as an Army officer, embodying the family's enduring commitment to national service. Stephen is forging his own path in academia and research. [Sources: 34]

Currently, the Petraeus family remains engaged in various pursuits; David contributes to global security dialogues through think tanks and consulting roles while Holly continues her advocacy for military families. Their continued dedication to public service underscores their collective resilience and unwavering commitment to making meaningful contributions to society. [Sources: 6]

Life After Service: What General Petraeus And His Family Are Doing Now

Following his resignation from the CIA in 2012, General David Petraeus transitioned into a multifaceted post-military career that leverages his extensive experience in national security and leadership. He became a partner at the global investment firm KKR, where he leads the KKR Global Institute, advising on geopolitical and macroeconomic trends. In addition to his role at KKR, Petraeus is a sought-after public speaker and frequently contributes to discussions on national security through various media outlets. [Sources: 7, 36, 37]

Petraeus has also dedicated time to academia, serving as a visiting professor at several prestigious institutions including Harvard University and the University of Southern California. His scholarly contributions continue to influence military strategy and foreign policy debates. [Sources: 38, 39]

On the family front, Petraeus's wife Holly has maintained her focus on advocacy for military families, drawing from her tenure with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Office of Servicemember Affairs. Their children have pursued their own professional paths; their daughter Anne is an attorney while their son Stephen serves as an officer in the U.S. Army. [Sources: 6, 8]

The Petraeuses remain committed to public service through various philanthropic endeavors, demonstrating that their dedication to country extends beyond David's distinguished military career. [Sources: 6]

Sources 

 [0]: https://www.mccaininstitute.org/about/leadership/david-petraeus/

 [1]: https://kids.kiddle.co/David_Petraeus

 [2]: https://www.whitehouse.gov/ppo/briefing-room/2021/11/10/serving-the-country-in-multiple-ways-veterans-reflecting-on-the-journey-from-military-service-to-public-service/

[3]: https://militaryhallofhonor.com/honoree-record.php?id=304

[4]: https://en.geneastar.org/genealogy/petraeusd/david-petraeus

[5]: https://today.usc.edu/general-david-petraeus-named-judge-widney-professor-at-usc/

[6]: https://irp.fas.org/congress/2011_cr/petraeus.html

[7]: https://www.nightdragon.com/insights/nightvision-fireside-chat-general-david-petraeus/

[8]: https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/national-international/natl-highlights-from-petraeus-legendary-career/1941971/

[9]: https://careerdevelopment.princeton.edu/events/conversation-retired-army-general-and-former-head-cia-david-petraeus-85-87

[10]: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-20301476

[11]: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2013-01-01/end-age-petraeus

[12]: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/david-petraeus-general-impressed-trump/story?id=43833575

[13]: https://law.wm.edu/academics/intellectuallife/researchcenters/postconflictjustice/symposium-the-future-of-afghanistan/speakers/petraeus/

[14]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/02/24/why-the-clinton-email-scandal-and-petraeus-leak-are-not-really-alike/

[15]: https://www.army.mil/article/272203/retired_general_david_petraeus_shares_insights_on_leadership_and_warfare

[16]: https://wachouston.org/event/gen-petraeus/

[17]: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/26/david-petraeus-general-apologise-affair

[18]: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/us/fbi-said-to-have-stumbled-into-news-of-david-petraeus-affair.html

[19]: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/us/citing-affair-petraeus-resigns-as-cia-director.html

[20]: https://www.crosswalk.com/headlines/the-real-lesson-behind-the-general-petraeus-affair.html

[21]: https://books.google.com/books/about/All_In.html?id=2xKP4FWigAcC

[22]: https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/landonlect/petraeustext409.html

[23]: https://www.reaganfoundation.org/programs-events/events-calendar/a-conversation-of-the-state-of-the-world-with-general-david-petraeus/

[24]: https://ebin.pub/the-secrets-of-spies-inside-the-hidden-world-of-international-agents-9781681885339.html

[25]: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2007/01/text/20070105-5.html

[26]: https://www.fortticonderoga.org/news/fort-ticonderoga-presents-the-ticonderoga-award-for-a-continental-vision-to-general-david-h-petraeus-us-army-ret/

[27]: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-112shrg72743/html/CHRG-112shrg72743.htm

[28]: https://www.hoover.org/research/secrets-statecraft-education-general-david-petraeus

[29]: https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/Online-Exclusive/2016-Online-Exclusive-Articles/Strategic-Command-General-David-Petraeus/

[30]: https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-oral-histories/clay-johnson-oral-history

[31]: https://www.newsday.com/news/david-petraeus-indiscretion-shouldn-t-end-his-public-service-alvin-bessent-e77385

[32]: https://military-history.fandom.com/wiki/David_Petraeus

[33]: https://achievement.org/achiever/general-david-petraeus/

[34]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Petraeus

[35]: https://www.nydailynews.com/2012/11/11/paula-broadwell-biographer-and-mother-of-2-accused-of-affair-with-david-petraeus-heaped-praise-on-cia-directors-wife/

[36]: https://ballotpedia.org/David_Petraeus

[37]: https://www.startinsight.eu/en/tag/david-petraeus/

[38]: https://www.concordia.net/community/general-ret-david-h-petraeus/

[39]: https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/david-petraeus-trumps-syria-strike-right-action-take

   

 


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