Army Gen. David Petraeus, credited with devising a counterinsurgency doctrine to save Iraq from chaos, spoke at a Thursday dinner for conservatives and neo-conservatives. He didn't exactly squelch speculation about a possible presidential bid.
Speculation has run rampant for months that Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the US Army’s Central Command and is widely credited with lead authorship of the “people first” counterinsurgency doctrine implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan, is toying with the idea of a run for the White House.
General Petraeus did little to squelch that speculation Thursday night when he spoke at the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), one of Washington’s premier conservative think tanks.
With former Vice President Dick Cheney and members of the Bush-era glitterati known as the neo-cons looking on, Petraeus accepted AEI’s annual Irving Kristol Award, named after the giant of neo-conservatism – a conservative ideology with roots in American liberal thinking that eschews realist foreign policy in favor of an activist and interventionist approach to the world. The highest goal of neo-conservatism is the spread of “American values” including freedom and democracy.
The late Mr. Kristol’s son, Bill Kristol, noted in a tribute to the award’s three decades of honorees that none has ever gone on to become president. He then added to applause and laughter, “Perhaps this curious and glaring omission will be rectified.”
Rather than simply letting that moment pass, Petraeus said upon taking the podium that in mulling over the theme for his speech, “It never crossed my mind, Bill, to talk about what you were suggesting.”
The line was delivered with a smile.