Monday, January 23, 2012

A Father-in-Law With Benefits: How David Petraeus Advanced His Career

 I thought this would be as good a time to remind or teach everyone that David Petraeus' ascent is due, in part, not to his martial prowess, but his willingness to kiss or sleep his way up to the top.

When he was a mere West Point cadet, Petraeus conveniently fell in love with Hollister Knowlton, the daughter of William A. Knowlton, then West Point Commandant, providing an early demonstration of what Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich (ret.) describes as Petraeus' “considerable talent for cultivating influential figures, both in and out of uniform, who might prove useful in advancing his own prospects.” (1) Fortunately, for Petraeus, Knowlton wasn't completely through a long, successful career. After leaving West Point, Knowlton became the chief of staff United States European Command. After finishing Ranger School, Petraeus followed his father-in-law to Europe; he where was assigned to the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat Team.

In some ways just as important as her status as the West Point's Commandant's daughter, was Hollister Knowlton's status as a descendant of a Mayflower traveler.(2)  This a status that is far more important to many American blue bloods than that of “Director of the CIA” or “General.”

(1)Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010), 193
(2) Miss Knowlton Officer's Bride At West Point, New York Times, 7/7/1974, pg..40