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Gen. David Petraeus scandal displays the range of human misbehavior

I’ve been incredulously half-following the media reports of the scandal involving General David Petraeus; his paramour Paula Broadwell; Jill Kelley, whose complaint about harassing emails touched off the investigation; Natalie Khawam, Kelley’s twin sister who was embroiled in a nasty custody fight; General John Allen, who allegedly sent “flirtatious” emails to Kelley; and a shirtless FBI agent.

This story is so convoluted that it’s tough to follow all the characters and allegations. I found a really good summary on MotherJones.com, complete with updates as the story got thicker and thicker:

The David Petraeus Scandal, Explained

I thought there must be a lesson in this story somewhere for Lovefraud readers. But what might it be?

Perhaps it is simply that human beings are capable of a wide range of bad and/or stupid behavior, not all of it sociopathic.  So here are a few key points that we can draw from the tawdry mess:

1. Smart people are capable of doing stupid things.

Gen. David Petraeus was not only a highly decorated military man credited with “saving” America’s war effort in Iraq, he was also a Princeton Ph.D. Yet he was willing to risk his entire career on an extramarital affair. Some may argue that powerful people have been engaging in sexual liaisons for millennia and it’s nobody’s business. Regardless, Petraeus had to know that if the affair were discovered, the media would have a field day and his legacy would be ruined. That’s exactly what happened.

2. Power corrupts. 

Powerful people tend to believe that they can do what they want and get away with anything. Those in the orbit of powerful people like to flaunt their access. Others want to associate with powerful people, and will go into debt throwing lavish parties to gain the access, well, because they like power too, even if it’s only by association. But there comes a point where power leads to trouble, as many people in this story have discovered.

3. Nothing is truly private.

Petraeus was sending emails to Broadwell, Broadwell was allegedly sending threatening emails to Kelley and Kelley was exchanging “flirtatious messages” with Allen. Now we all know. And the twins, Kelley and Khawam, are both heavily in debt and have multiple lawsuits filed against them. All of their dirty laundry has become the fodder for the voracious media machine. Nothing on the Internet dies. And when records are public—or even if they aren’t—someone will find them.

So what conclusions can we draw?

All human behavior is on a continuum. The right amount of power and aggression can lead to successful military career—too much power and aggression can lead to murder. The right amount of libido leads to a healthy intimate relationship—too much leads to recklessness, promiscuity and coercive sex. A certain amount of risk taking leads to financial growth—too much leads to debt, foreclosure and lawsuits.

In the end, I suppose the lesson of this saga is that people are complicated, life is messy, and we should all be wary of unintended consequences.



32 Comments on "Gen. David Petraeus scandal displays the range of human misbehavior"

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  1. Truthspeak says:

    G1S, I just lost my response.

    There are many, many, many sites out there that are maintained by self-proclaimed P’s, N’s, & Spaths. Some of them DO provide step-by-step “instructions” on how to target and discard an individual for a variety of reasons: sex, money, etc. Of course, there’s no “supportive” discussions because most of these sites are monitored by the disordered, so forums aren’t necessarily “allowed” by these people. They just want to look at the site statistics, every day, and see the number of hits they get.

    As for why spaths may lurk on this site, it doesn’t matter. What is written and exspressed by readers who are being honest and truthful isn’t of much help to them except to stroke their own disordered egos if they recognize the particulars of a reader’s given situation. Seriously – the exspath would have to be DAFT not to recognize himself by my descriptions, so he may come to this site in the hope that I’m posting of being in an eternal meltdown. Well, I”m not. And, that’s that.

    Brightest blessings and Happy Thanksgiving



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  2. I hear a bit of news…. Saying Petraeus screwed around on Holly, because… Well look at her. She doesn’t take care of herself. It really makes me sad to hear that kind of talk. She is an accomplished lovely gal who took care of the children. Occasionally I would say to my old expath, “you take care of the kids the way I do, all the housework, cook, clean, etc and let’s see how great you look. Paula wasn’t looking after her kids . She was gone a LOT. She was running 6 min miles and turning tricks in bed. Garbage! Neither of them is gorgeous . Plus , I am sure Holly felt the distancing and that always tugs at the self worth and confidence of any normal woman.



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  3. Louise says:

    honestkindgiver:

    We have talked about this before. It wasn’t because of Holly’s looks. If that’s the case, why do all the beautiful Hollywood people cheat on each other? I think it goes much deeper than that. It’s about him, not about her. I have a best friend who is four months shy of 50 years old, has four kids (one who is profoundly retarded) and she still looks fantastic! It can be done. A lot of it is genetics and a lot is how we take care of ourselves. Despite the kids and all that, a person has to MAKE time and it can be done. It’s all about priorities. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done. Not every 50 or 60 year old woman looks old and fat.



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  4. Ox Drover says:

    Interesting article

    At least 30 per cent of military commanders fired over the past eight years lost their jobs because of sexually related offenses, including harassment, adultery, and improper relationships.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265451/One-THREE-U-S-military-commanders-fired-sexual-misconduct.html#ixzz2IXQziAzI
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



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  5. Louise says:

    Oxy:

    I saw the same article this morning. I’m not surprised in the slightest…actually when I saw it, I just said to myself…no kidding. Sad, but true.



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