Afghan drawdown was boiling point for Petraeus: book

David Petraeus

Four-star general-turned-CIA director David Petraeus almost resigned as Afghanistan war commander over President Barack Obama's decision to quickly draw down surge forces, according to a new insider's look at Petraeus' 37-year Army career.

Petraeus decided that resigning would be a "selfish, grandstanding move with huge political ramifications" and that now was "time to salute and carry on", according to a forthcoming biography.

Author and Petraeus confidante Paula Broadwell had extensive access to the general in Afghanistan and Washington for 'All In: The Education of General David Petraeus', due from Penguin Press in January.

The book traces Petraeus' career from West Point cadet to his command of two wars deemed unwinnable: Iraq and Afghanistan. Co-authored with The Washington Post's Vernon Loeb, the nearly 400-page book is part history lesson through Petraeus' eyes, part hagiography and part defense of the counterinsurgency strategy he applied in both wars.

Critics of counterinsurgency argue the strategy has not yet proved a success, with violence spiking in Iraq after the departure of US troops, and Afghan local forces deemed ill-prepared to take over by the 2014 deadline.

The book unapologetically casts Petraeus in the hero's role, as in this description of the Afghanistan campaign: "There was a new strategic force released on Kabul: Petraeus' will."

Broadwell does acknowledge that Petraeus rubs some people the wrong way. "His critics fault him for ambition and self-promotion", she writes. But she adds that "his energy, optimism and will to win stand out more for me."

The book also is peppered with Petraeus quotes that sound like olive branches meant to soothe Obama aides who feared Petraeus would challenge their boss for the White House. "Petraeus tried to make clear that he and Obama were in synch", Broadwell writes of Petraeus' Senate testimony on the Afghan war.

The book describes Petraeus' frustration at still being labeled an outsider from the Obama administration, even as he retired from the military at Obama's request before taking the job last summer as the CIA's 20th director.

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