Ten years after 9/11, still stalked by the Vichy virus: Why we still need David Petraeus

Gen. David Petraeus gave a very moving going-away speech this last week after 37 years as a man of honor in military uniform. We will still need this most respected American general since Eisenhower because:

The New York Times reports that President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said Monday that he was going to the United Nations this month to seek membership for a state of Palestine. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said at a separate event that a Palestinian bid for recognition by the United Nations would “set back peace, and might set it back for years.”

On Saturday the Times reported that the Obama administration had initiated a last-ditch diplomatic campaign to avert a confrontation this month, but it may already be too late. Obama is no friend of Israel. And credible Israeli sources report that Likud figures who hold sway told Netanyahu to annex Judea and Samaria if the Arabs declare a state.

I suggested here that Petraeus be considered as vice president in 2012. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin or Donald Trump should all consider Petraeus for this post. Historical periods tend to end and begin again with a respected general: Eisenhower, Grant, Washington. It adds stability, clarity and purpose to the “philosopher king” who attends the moment of change (Roosevelt, Lincoln, Jefferson). Such a time is just ahead. The presence on the ticket of a trusted and respected general transcends party bias and unifies the country on a singular path to singular purpose. Petraeus has come to the fore through Iraq and Afghanistan when others before him proved to be woefully inadequate.

We entered conflict in Iraq led by a five-time recidivist draft dodger vice president from the Vietnam era who still challenges and puzzles the world today with his compensation issues and a college dropout good ol' boy at the head of the Army. Foreign policy then was from ad hoc to non-existent and State Department is a shambles and getting worse, with diplomats today used as advance men for Lady Gaga. Petraeus returned honor to leadership and brought the term “warrior scholar” to usage among journalists. He came from us through necessity. We have found our man, and his work is not yet over.

After 9/11 the enemy of Israel became the enemy of America, but much of us and all of Europe are still stalked by the Vichy virus: accommodation, appeasement, nerdism (a neurotic resistance to adulthood and the difficult adult responsibilities, and the Obama administration manifests this) and denial. It did not work for France in 1940 and it will not work for America and the West today.