A new book based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters is taking a closer look at a key group of military figures like General David Petraeus, John Nagl and H. R. McMaster and their plot to revolutionize the United States military. The book, “The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War,” which was in the works before recent controversy broke regarding Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell also includes information from interviews with Petraeus himself. This morning the author, who is also a national security columnist for Slate Magazine, Fred Kaplan joins “Starting Point” to discuss his new book and the Petraeus – Broadwell affair.
Kaplan says Petraeus and other military leaders who he dubs “The Insurgents” in his book came up in a generation where they had experienced fighting in places like El Salvador, Haiti, Bosnia, Somalia and “saw this was the kind of war” that was to come. He says as a result Petraeus and others decided they needed “to turn the army around so that it can deal with these in a systematic way. They had studied insurgencies and they had behaved within the bureaucracy the same way that insurgencies do in their own kind of war.”
When Petraeus took command of the operation in Iraq Kaplan says he changed the definition of war in U.S. army. Kaplan says, “at the beginning of the occupation of the war there was no command operatus ...he set up a new government, he vetted candiates for an election, he revitalized the economy, he reopened the university, he reopened the border with Syria.” Kaplan goes on to say Petraeus did this “all on his own authority without really checking with anybody…that has been his M.O. throughout this sage.”
Regarding the scandal that broke regarding Petraeus and his biographer Pauala Broadwell Kaplan says he “was the one who first revealed who the affair was with – not that [Petraeus] had an affair, he revealed that himself and it was a bit of a surprise but it was kind of obvious who it was with,” based on rumors and solid confirmations from sources.