This is a generic clipart image of a woman holding a peach and not Paula Broadwell
If I were running a tabloid, I would be salivating so much that I would need a bib while editing the stories related to General David Petraeus and his girlfriend Paula Broadwell.
One obvious headline would be “Peaches embeds broad well with ‘All In’”. Peaches, incidentally, is the general’s nickname used by those who know him well. The broad knew him welll, to say the least. ‘All In’ is the name of the biography of that general that Broadwell was authorized to write. Whether the name has a Freudian ring to it or not is a matter of how reflexively smutty your mind is. Being a creature of shallow culture I would say it is Freudian.
The story has turned out to be a double entendre goldmine with military and journalistic jargon smoothly fitting to describe the behind-the-scenes goings-on. Embed is by far the most used one apart from ‘All In’. If Stephen Colbert is to be believed—and why would I not?—then there is a chapter in the book titled ‘Anaconda.’ I refuse to explain that double entendre. And what about ‘Peaches’ the juicy fruit or, for instance, the word surge? All one has to do to pack the story with sexual innuendoes is to tell it as is.
When the story first came to light my immediate response was what I said in my Facebook update. No matter how many sovereign territories you invade and capture thousands of miles away, the sovereign territory barely a foot and a half below from your chin can never be conquered. The dick will get you.
Powerful men even more so than powerful women are on a very different fuel cycle where libido pumps faster in their veins than blood. (Not a medical claim but a literary one). And if you happen to be a four star general of any military, let alone the world’s mightiest military machine, then you have been dunked in a poolful of libido. People do not realize it but the entire military aesthetics is designed to project a highly accentuated manhood, starting with the sharply starched uniform that never seem to become flaccid to the idiom of instruction that is tumid. Even belt buckles shine so much that one’s mistress may not need a mirror to dress up.
It would be foolish to describe this story in grand Greek tragedy terms because there is no really great drama to it. It is essentially about a man and a woman who got it on. The rest of the talk is nothing but frippery. Of course, there is the real question of whether as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Petraeus exposed himself to unacceptable vulnerabilities by having an affair and unwittingly allowing his girlfriend to access classified material. It is funny how Intelligence was not evidently not Central to Petraeus’ conduct as the Agency’s director. Oh, how clever is my punning!
There are no moral lessons here because adultery is not about morality. Adultery is almost always about opportunity. Men, especially those in uniform so starched that that it can stand erect without anyone inside it, are boringly predictable when a sexual opportunity presents itself. There is a surge in the Netherlands that finds an outlet when such an opportunity arises.
The most stupid part of the story would be how Petraeus reportedly left naughty messages for Paula in a Gmail drop box. Gmail drop box? Really? Even a Las Vegas billboard would have been more discreet. To think that the director of the CIA would find Gmail drop box safe says something about how men become “nikamma” (ineffectual or foolish), as the great poet Ghalib so memorably put it, when in love or even lust.
If Petraeus had bothered to familiarize himself with the overarching culture of the region that he was presiding over, he might have come across Ghalib’s enduring verse. The poet says:
“Ishq ne Ghalib nikamma kar diya
Varna hum bhi kya aadmi they kaam ke”
It roughly translates:
“Love rendered me ineffectual
Otherwise I too was a man of consequence once.”