Loving the General 美國人對將軍的愛戴

更新時間 2012年 12月 17日, 星期一 - 格林尼治標準時間12:48

Vocabulary: reputation 詞匯:聲譽

Former General David Petraeus and his wife, with vice president Joe Biden (right)

Holly and David Petraeus met in the 1970s when he was a cadet at West Point

The fall from grace of retired General David Petraeus, once America's most prominent post-9/11 military leader, has surprised a nation. In the past he's been held in high esteem and has even been mentioned as a future presidential candidate. But after an extramarital affair he had to step down as head of CIA.

"Generals have played a very central role in American politics," says Ron Chernow, a biographer of George Washington. "In Britain they get knighthoods. We reward them with political positions in high office."

The BBC's Daniel Nasaw says that America's cult of the general dates back to its founding years, when they had to defend the country from European invaders and native tribes.

No less than 10 US presidents have served as generals. They are seen as having worked their way up through the ranks, even from modest backgrounds, like Ulysses Grant and President Andrew Jackson. And they are perceived as unblemished by national politics and its backroom deal-making or potential for moral compromise.

The Vietnam War was so unpopular that none of its generals found later political success, but since the 1970s, Americans have managed to separate the individual soldier - and his presumed heroism - from the cause.

Few Americans look back on the Gulf War as a heroic national cause, but General Colin Powell was mentioned in the 1990s as a presidential candidate and later served as secretary of state. And General Norman Schwarzkopf became a figure of international renown.

Americans consider the military their most respected public institution: 78% say they have "a great deal" or "a lot" of confidence in the military, according to the 2011 Gallup poll.

But some commentators believe that it may change. Andrew Bacevich, research fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and a retired Army colonel, says that with General Petraeus' downfall, the American public can begin to wonder why after 11 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan "we haven't won anything".

Quiz 測驗

1. What cost former General David Petraeus his job?

An extramarital affair.

2. Look at the article. What generals are admired in spite of having led the military in unpopular wars?

Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf.

3. Is the following statement true, false or not given? After Petraeus lost popularity Americans might question why their troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan.


4. Look at the article. What words are used to refer to what people think of something no matter if it is real or not?

Perceived and presumed.

5. What are the three expressions used for 'loss of status'?

Fall from grace, to step down, downfall.

Glossary 词汇表 (点击单词收听发音)

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