MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The ticking clock does not disturb the preternatural serenity that Gen. David Petraeus maintains regarding Afghanistan. Officially, the U.S. Central Command is located here; actually, it is wherever he is, which is never in one place for very long. He is away about 300 days a year, flying to and around his vast area of responsibility, which extends from Egypt to where his towering reputation is hostage to a timetable -- Afghanistan.
He earned his own chapter in American military history by advocating and presiding over the surge that broke the back of the Iraq insurgency. This was an instance of a military intellectual given full opportunity for the unity of theory and practice.