Former Gen. David Petraeus is reportedly one of the finalists that President-elect Donald Trump is considering for the crucial position of Secretary of State. What kind of foreign policy could Americans expect from Petraeus as Secretary of State?
Here are seven things you need to know about Petraeus.
1. The left used to hate Petraeus. In 2007, the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org posted an advertisement in the New York Times that smeared Petraeus as "General Betray Us" and "a military man constantly at war with the facts," per CNN.
President George W. Bush declared the ad "disgusting" and congressional Republicans called on their Democrat counterparts to condemn the ad.
Also in 2007, many Senate Democrats–especially those who had presidential aspirations at the time–routinely tried to discredit Petraeus in a Senate hearing in a vain attempt to score political points against the surge in Iraq. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Petraeus ran circles around them, as this Vanity Fair piece from 2010 explains.
Recently, Democrats have tended to seek Petraeus's viewpoint, as he is recognized as a war hero.
2. Petraeus shared classified information with his mistress. Petraeus was sentenced to two years probation in 2015 for sharing black books filled with classified and non-classified information with Paula Broadwell, his biographer and mistress. Petraeus's crime was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor because Broadwell never publicly revealed the classified information.
Trump has brushed off this issue, rightly pointing out that what Petraeus did was far less damaging to national security than Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, but it would seem a little odd for Trump to appoint someone who mishandled classified information after he routinely criticized Clinton for mishandling classified information on the campaign trail.
If Petraeus were offered the job of secretary of state, he would have to receive approval from his probation officer before taking the job and moving to Washington, D.C.
3. Petraeus supports gun control. Radio host Dana Loesch points out that Petraeus helped launch a pro-gun control group called Veterans Coalition for Common Sense with former Navy pilot Mark Kelly. Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), and the two have pushed heavily for gun control ever since Giffords was shot by nutcase Jared Loughner.
"Why is his stance, a potential Secretary of State's stance on gun control, important?" Loesch wrote. "Perhaps you've heard of the UN arms treaty?"
Loesch linked to a Fox News article from 2013 explaining how the current Secretary of State, John Kerry, signed onto a United Nations treaty at the time that was an international version of gun control.
Loesch called Petraeus's support for gun control "a deal breaker," and many conservatives would likely agree.
4. Petraeus hasn't really taken a stand against the Iran deal. The Washington Free Beacon has noted that Petraeus has said that parts of the Iran deal are "problematic," as it would "increase considerably the resources available for the Iranian regime to pursue maligned activities and in the longer term, as constraints imposed by the agreement expire, the risk of Iranian proliferation will increase."
However, in 2015 Petraeus said that he was still deciding what his stance was on the Iran deal, despite the fact that he had numerous problems with it. While there's nothing wrong with taking time to make up your mind on an issue, the Iran deal has been opposed by most conservatives from the get-go. Should Trump nominate Petraeus, it would be reassuring to get a clear, definitive answer from him on what should be done with regard to the Iran deal.
It should be noted though that Petraeus has said that the U.S. should tell Iran that under no circumstances should they be allowed to develop uranium that is highly enriched enough for weaponry purposes.
5. Petraeus understands the threat that Russia poses to the world. In September 2015, Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and said that "what Vladimir Putin would like to do is resurrect the Russian empire," per CNN.
He also noted that Russia is not, in fact, focused on fighting ISIS in Syria.
"If Russia had wanted to fight ISIS they could have joined the 60-plus member coalition that General Allen has so capably put together and helped drop bombs on ISIS," Petraeus said, per the UK Express. "They have some capabilities that would be useful to that fight so this is clearly not what they're up to."
Given Trump's affinity for Putin, Petraeus's understanding of who Putin really is would provide a good check on Trump in that regard, should he become the next secretary of state.
6. Petraeus hid the fact he was being treated for prostate cancer in 2009 "to avoid giving al-Qaeda hope." Petraeus kept it private until a New York Times reporter was tipped on it, via Vanity Fair:
So his Central Command staff in Tampa drafted a terse press release, laying out the bare facts. As with everything that comes from his office, Petraeus reviewed the statement. It disclosed the diagnosis and the successful treatment, and explained that the general had declined to announce his ailment because it was a “private matter.” But the general added a line of his own. He added one more reason for not disclosing his condition: “to avoid giving al-Qaeda hope.”
The staff balked.
“Absolutely not, sir” was the gist of the response from his public-relations advisers.
“Leave it in,” ordered the general. “End of discussion.”
There was only one avenue of appeal. The staff felt strongly enough about it to send the release to the only authority in-house capable of overruling the general. Holly Petraeus returned it without comment, but with her husband’s addition deleted.
7. Petraeus has a lot of experience in national security matters. According to Britannica, Petraeus led "multinational forces in Iraq (2007–08)" and "later served as commander in chief of Central Command (Centcom; 2008–10) and as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan (2010–11)" before becoming CIA director for a year.
His national security experience would certainly be helpful to President Trump, but his mishandling of classified information and support for gun control will give some people pause at the idea of Petraeus as secretary of state.