- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The lessons of the Petraeus mess, are I think, that people have a breaking point, and that he hit his after four combat tours and many years of stress. Also, I think that retiring from the military after 40 years of service and earning 4 stars is more disorienting than we realize.
But I fear that the Army — especially its generals — will conclude that:
–Petraeus was too smart for his own good. So don’t try for a PhD in a good civilian university, see where it leads? Thinking critically is overrated.
–So are new ideas.
–Talking to reporters always will cost you down the road. So hold the media at arm’s length. Or more. Don’t engage unless ordered to do so.
–You can be mediocre as long as you keep your pants on.
Ben Pauker is executive editor at Foreign Policy. Ben came to FP in May 2010 from World Policy Journal, where he was managing editor from 2007-2010. A native of New York, he grew up in Brazil, Australia, and Thailand and has written for Harper's, the Economist, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications. He is the co-founder of the Gastronauts, the world’s largest adventurous-eating club, and, in the course of reporting but mainly to see if it was possible, has smuggled small arms out of Central Africa.| Interview |