- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past five hours, you’ve probably heard by now that David Petraeus — perhaps the most universally admired person in American public life — suddenly resigned as director of the CIA for, as he told agency staffers in a message Friday, "engaging in an extramarital affair."
Slate’s Fred Kaplan reports that his paramour was none other than Paula Broadwell, the co-author of a highly flattering biography of the former general, All In: The Education of David Petraeus. (FP tried to contact Broadwell via several channels Friday, but she did not respond.)
According to the AP, the affair came to light during an investigation by the FBI, presumably related to its counterintelligence function. (Other accounts are offering more salacious details, but I can’t vouch for the quality of the reporting.)
As recently as Monday, Broadwell published an article titled "General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living"on the DailyBeast‘s website. Rule No. 1: "Lead by example from the front of the formation." Rule No. 5: "We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear view mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again."
What’s clear is that Broadwell, a veteran whose book began as a dissertation project, was starstruck by her subject.
In January, when her book, co-authored with Washington Post editor Vernon Loeb, came out, Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings ripped it as "such blatant, unabashed propaganda, it’s as if the general has given up pretending there’s a difference between the press and his own public relations team." When Broadwell appeared on the Daily Show to promote the book, she joked, "He can turn water into bottled water" and noted "he is a very high-energy person." They spent a lot of time together on runs, a favorite Petraeus activity. She said Petraeus had "no dirty secrets."
In her book, Broadwell describes how she first met Petraeus in 2006, when he was still a lieutenant general, at a dinner arranged by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. "I introduced myself," she writes, "and told him about my research interests; he gave me his card and offered to put me in touch with other researchers and service members working on the same issues. … I took full advantage of his open-door policy to seek insight and share perspectives."
Broadwell was also an occasional contributor to Foreign Policy, via Tom Ricks’s blog. In one post, she lauded Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy; in another, she wrote, "Gen. David H. Petraeus’s counterinsurgency guidance calls on coalition forces to be first with the truth."
This is a huge story, obviously, and the Twitterverse is going wild with off-color jokes. I’m sure more salacious details are going to come out, and we’ll no doubt learn in more detail why Petraeus felt he had to resign. Some will say he shouldn’t have. Ricks writes: "Petraeus is retired from the military. If the affair happened back when he was on active duty, it is part of the past. And there is nothing illegal about civilians having affairs." On the other hand, it’s obviously not a good thing for your CIA director to be subject to possible blackmail.
Still, Petraeus’s downfall is a huge loss for the United States. Not only was he one of the country’s top strategic thinkers, he was also one of the few public figures revered by all sides of the political spectrum for his dedication and good judgment. He salvaged two disastrous wars, for two very different presidents. He would have been a useful check on groupthink inside the Obama administration — an independent voice for a White House often accused of being insular and one-dimensional. And if anyone could have restored confidence in the CIA after Benghazi, it would have been him.
Petraeus’s exit leaves a bitter taste. We all make mistakes. Here’s hoping he makes a comeback.
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| The E-Ring |
John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.| The Complex |