WHEN INTEGRITY FAILS; THE CASE OF GENERAL PETRAEUS

December 3rd, 2012
Jim Thomas

From every standpoint, the scandal surrounding General Petraeus demonstrates once again a universal truth. That is, when it counts, in all settings, the failure of Integrity bears detrimental consequences. At the highest levels of government and public trust, the consequences become of monumental import.

Consider the evidence. When Petraeus made the wrong choices—and Integrity is always about choice—the nation lost a valuable public servant. Shame poured on the Army and the CIA. Disbelief and dismay spread wide and deep, further diminishing confidence in the institutions of government. At the personal level, the scandal besmirched the General’s reputation and self-respect, priceless intangibles no one can afford to lose.

Where the breach? The First Great Virtue—is based on a fundamental tenet. It requires adherence to standards that withstand moral scrutiny, that to some extent in some manner are beneficial. In simple terms, the tenet means holding fast to time-honored principles, even when difficult, unprofitable, or inconvenient.

In the Petreus case, the governing standards were encoded at West Point, in the Army, and at CIA. When the General let go of them, the breach was joined and unwanted consequences burst like a tornado. In this hyper connected transparent age of the Internet, no sin goes unnoticed. Somebody is watching, precisely as the General himself once warned an Army audience.

The sovereign virtue of Integrity does not always demand the superior choice. By all means, however, it demands avoidance of the wrong choice. May all view the fall of David Petraeus—and learn.

.From every standpoint, the scandal surrounding General Petraeus demonstrates once again a universal truth. That is, when it counts, in all settings, the failure of Integrity bears detrimental consequences. At the highest levels of government and public trust, the consequences become of monumental import.

Consider the evidence. When Petraeus made the wrong choices—and Integrity is always about choice—the nation lost a valuable public servant. Shame poured on the Army and the CIA. Disbelief and dismay spread wide and deep, further diminishing confidence in the institutions of government. At the personal level, the scandal besmirched the General’s reputation and self-respect, priceless intangibles no one can afford to lose.

Where the breach? The First Great Virtue—is based on a fundamental tenet. It requires adherence to standards that withstand moral scrutiny, that to some extent in some manner are beneficial. In simple terms, the tenet means holding fast to time-honored principles, even when difficult, unprofitable, or inconvenient.

In the Petreus case, the governing standards were encoded at West Point, in the Army, and at CIA. When the General let go of them, the breach was joined and unwanted consequences burst like a tornado. In this hyper connected transparent age of the Internet, no sin goes unnoticed. Somebody is watching, precisely as the General himself once warned an Army audience.

The sovereign virtue of Integrity does not always demand the superior choice. By all means, however, it demands avoidance of the wrong choice. May all view the fall of David Petraeus—and learn.

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