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David Petraeus for president in 2012?

If General David Petraeus ends America’s two longest wars on a victorious note, the call to make a presidential run in 2012 may be hard to resist.

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Enter a new potential candidate for the presidency of the United States. He is four-star Gen. David Petraeus, whose military tactics have crushed a democracy-threatening insurgency in Iraq, and whose tactical game plan in Afghanistan may do the same there.

Well, you may say, Americans are not particularly cordial to the idea of a general in the White House. The last one was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. Gen. Colin Powell toyed with the prospect and decided against it. Gen. Wesley Clark sought the Democratic nomination in 2004 and failed.

Petraeus disavows any political ambitions. Even Col. Erik Gunhus, a former Special Forces officer and now Petraeus’s public affairs adviser, who spends 15 or 16 hours a day watching and traveling with Petraeus, says the man is not interested. What he really enjoys is schmoozing with intellectuals in mind-expanding discussions.

Petraeus is no mean intellectual himself. He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in the top 5 percent of his class, married the superintendent’s daughter, taught for two years at West Point’s social sciences department, and picked up master’s and PhD degrees at Princeton.

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