Petraeus ‘Home’ in Iraq

Charles Krauthammer is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist but he might be reading a wee bit much into a slip of the tongue:

As always, the inadvertent slip is the most telling. Discussing the performance of British troops, Gen. David Petraeus told Sen. Joe Biden of the Foreign Relations Committee that he’d be consulting with British colleagues in London on his way back “home.” He had meant to say “Iraq,” where he is now on his third tour of duty. Is there any other actor in Washington’s Iraq war drama — from Harry Reid to the Joint Chiefs — who could have made such a substitution? Anyone who not only knows Iraq the way Petraeus does but feels it in all its gravity and complexity?

Now, there’s no doubt that Petraeus has spent a lot of time in Iraq and that he lives his mission. Certainly, he’s been there more than Biden and his other inquisitors.

Still, the psychology of the military man (and perhaps anyone who moves frequently) is that home is where you hang your hat. Indeed, when I was deployed in Southwest Asia during Desert Storm, I reflexively called my tent — and for the few days of the ground war my Humvee — “home.” I still find myself doing that even though I’ve been out of the service much longer than I was in, referring to my hotel room as “home” even on relatively short trips.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    home is where you hang your hat


  2. I’m sorry I can’t give a reference but I believe General Petraeus actually said in his testimony before Congress this week that Iraq was his home now, which means this isn’t a slip of the tongue at all. General Petraeus has probably lived in Iraq for as long as he has lived anywhere continuously for many years now.