News of the affair did not come as a total surprise—not to those who saw Petraeus and “the woman in the case,” Paula Broadwell, together in Kabul during Petraeus’s final year in command there through July 2011. Broadwell had been working for some time on a biography of Petraeus. He had agreed to aid her project: giving long interviews, allowing his staff to talk to her, clearing the path to colleagues and mentors from earlier in his career. By that last year in Kabul, it was clear to all who saw them that the pair had established a close relationship…

Petraeus’s staff-group in Kabul was intensely loyal to him. Some had been with him virtually since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They knew that Petraeus had been deployed for three-fourths of the time since then. By this final tour, he was close to exhaustion. If Broadwell’s company—and transparent admiration— eased Petraeus’s burdens, so be it. When an inquiring reporter asked about Broadwell, late of an evening, a raised eyebrow and a shrug were as far as one staff-officer would go. One of Petraeus’ mentors, a retired army general, did allow that he had cautioned Petraeus. He was sure nothing was out of line, he hastened to say, but “appearances matter.”