It is hard to understand why Oxford Today would run Oliver Lewis’s naively adoring interview with former general David Petraeus (11 August 2014). This puff piece, replete with references to the hero’s glorious military career, his presidential demeanor, and his devotion to higher education, reads like nothing so much as a Petraeus for President ad, viz:
‘As the two generals sat in the debating chamber of the Oxford Union the affection and respect between them created an atmosphere of intellectual challenge and honest answers. At times it felt as if they could have been back in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Sir Nick was the deputy to General Petraeus as the commander. But occasionally we broke free of the intimacy and saw glimpses of Petraeus’s presidential demeanour, the humour and self-deprecation of the military leader coupled with the confidence and certainty of an American political heavyweight.’
Please, give us a break! Wading through this treacle, one would never guess that many responsible analysts consider Petraeus’s command of US forces in Iraq a long-term strategic disaster, his political ideas dangerously shallow, and his leadership ambitions regrettable. A serious journal would not have published this sort of school yearbook encomium without recognizing the complexity of the issues glossed over by the starry-eyed interviewer.