The series will show how Petraeus was engaged from the beginning of the Iraq war in creating a myth about himself as a commander with unique ability to defeat insurgents, that he knew he had failed in his first two commands in Iraq and that he did not believe that war was winnable.
But the account will also show that Petraeus eventually began to believe his own myth of himself as successful counterinsurgency strategist. The shift from deception of others to self-deception is the dominant theme of his command of the war in Afghanistan.
Although David Petraeus has demonstrated intellectual interests unusual in the military elite, the dominant personal trait he had displayed during this Army career, as one civilian friend told a journalist, is that he is “insanely ambitious.” His drive to get ahead was evident from the beginning of his career. He married the daughter of the superintendent of West Point, Gen. William Knowlton within weeks of his graduation. He depended on the patronage of a series of powerful senior officers, first the NATO Supreme Commander, then the Army chief staff, and finally the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Henry H. Shelton, for whom he worked from 1997 to 1999 to get plum assignments.