Best Defense

The lesson of Petraeus for other generals?

I’ve said before the lessons I think other generals will draw incorrectly from the fall of David Petraeus. His real mistake, I think, was going directly from four-star command to the directorship of the CIA. Rather, he should have taken some time out and reoriented himself. So the real lesson, I think, is that the ...

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I’ve said before the lessons I think other generals will draw incorrectly from the fall of David Petraeus. His real mistake, I think, was going directly from four-star command to the directorship of the CIA. Rather, he should have taken some time out and reoriented himself. So the real lesson, I think, is that the time of retirement from high position is a vulnerable moment.

I didn’t think much of Dick Cheney as a vice president, but I think he was a good defense secretary. I remember being told that when he left that job, he got in a car and drove across the country alone. Another thing to do might be to go camping or sailing for a few weeks. The point is to get out of the bubble, re-connect to the world, and most of all, catch your breath.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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