November 21, 2012

I could not disagree more with Scott Wathne’s Nov. 19 letter, asserting that “the influence of an open-ended war is no more to blame for specific instances of fidelity than is the associated stress of being an attorney, a policeman or an animal control specialist.”

In what other profession are you sent halfway across the world, into a war zone, for a year or more? Where you live in deplorable conditions, must watch people die and are usually sleep-deprived and on call 24-7 to make life-or-death decisions? And, as in both Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair’s and David H. Petraeus’s cases, where you must make difficult decisions that dramatically affect world stability?

As if all that weren’t challenging enough, the 11 years of deployments means that our career military come home and just begin to get their feet back under them with their families before they have to pack up and leave again.

I agree that there is no excuse for infidelity. But such a lengthy war absolutely influences the ability of military couples to be able to manage marital challenges. No one should forget that we have the freedom to be “an attorney, a policeman or an animal control specialist” because of what our military and their families do.

Tiffany L. Craig, Columbia

I am bemused by the amount of energy the media are putting into trying to find a reason behind David Petraeus’s affair with Paula Broadwell. Was it the bubble of privilege that our top generals live in? Was it the years at war away from his family? It was neither of those things — nor anything else excusable.

I have many longtime female friends whose husbands had affairs (usually with younger women) after 30-plus years of marriage. These men are not senators or top military brass or captains of industry. The only thing they all have in common is that they are men.

There is nothing special about men cheating on their wives. It happens every day, so please stop wasting time and space trying to find excuses for Mr. Petraeus. He’s just like the rest of the cheaters.

Martha Gerstein, Ashburn

In his Nov. 18 Outlook commentary, “He slept with her. Who cares?,” John Prados argued against “arbitrary and outdated rules that govern U.S. intelligence employees” by asserting that these rules have cost the country the service of experienced people.

Perhaps. But in considering whether the rules are relevant or not, he should also wonder about how often the rules have weeded out people who either were, or could have become, security risks capable of causing damage to our intelligence assets and our country.

Mr. Prados also argued that the arbitrary rules are there primarily to prevent blackmail, which he believes is no longer a major tactic to obtain information.

The main reason one should care has more to do with ethics, honesty and dependability. Adultery is still a dirty word, and for good reason. It involves deception and breaking a vow to be faithful to one’s spouse and family. If an employee cannot be trusted to be faithful to family, why should he or she be trusted with national security information?

William R. Ott, Montgomery Village