I guess I would do it differently if I were asking the questions in a presidential debate. My questions would be: Do you drive? (The Queen of England does. Hillary Clinton does not.) Can you bake a cake? (Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren can and does.) Could I see your SAT scores and law board scores, please? And did you serve? Nothing against those who did not serve, cannot bake a cake, do not drive, snuck in or flunked out of college. The best among us are there as well. President Kennedy, it has been said, couldn’t spell “cat.”

But now we have come to crisis and those who did serve are mellowed and matured by this deepest of human experiences and its memory. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who may seek the Democratic nomination, has distinguished military service and his book, I Heard My Country Calling, most perfectly addresses the complexity of the human condition as peace and war forge and leaven the judgment and leadership of the matured warrior-scholar. Only one conservative aspiring to the presidency today, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), served. He flew C-130s in the mid-1970s across Europe and in Mali, Mauritania and Chad.

{mosads}It should be an issue and has been this century as so many of those who did not serve this past 15 years appear to be carrying the biggest sticks. There may be some compensatory relationship. To them, war is an abstraction. Never so to the veteran. Read Webb’s book.

It may have gone unnoticed among the alpha dogs at the Pentagon and linear-minded policy wonks at the Council of Foreign Relations, but the observation has been made that each historic period in a free tradition such as our own tends to end with a military officer in the Oval Office.

Or you could say, begins again with a distinguished military officer (Washington, Grant, Eisenhower) who, as we enter drift, chaos and crisis, has an archetypal quality which brings us home again to our original nature where we find again strength and courage. Ours is such a time of drift, chaos and crisis. We best consider calling up now that leader who shifts the tides and returns the country to equilibrium and balance. In my opinion that is warrior-scholar David Petraeus, Princeton Ph.D, retired four-star general and former head of the CIA. There has long been speculation that Petraeus would seek the presidency. The timing is right.

“I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State [in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS]; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran,” he said recently in an interview with The Washington Post.

It might be considered an “intervention”; an intended disruption to the current Washington zeitgeist and a call for a change in direction; a change in political maturity and character; a sea change of policy and political culture.

An intervention might be suggested as well in the Tea Party’s rise to Congress, hearing Tom Cotton, the new Republican senator from Arkansas, giving his first Senate floor speech.

“Our enemies and allies alike must know that aggressors will pay an unspeakable price for challenging the United States,” Cotton said. “The best way to impose that price is global military dominance.”

Cotton gave his “speech of the flaming sword” in the middle of this month. We can only assume that it is by sheer coincidence that in this same month France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia and others followed Britain’s lead to a fundamentally new diplomatic relationship with China, repudiating American leadership entirely, very possibly forever.

Time to call up the mature and seasoned veteran: Petraeus for president in 2016.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.

Tags 2016 2016 presidential election David Petraeus Tom Cotton Veterans

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