Reading this rabidly negative deconstruction of Gen. Petraeus's fruit salad (the tabs and medals on an officer's dress uniform), I was struck by the extent to which it remained open to a counter-narrative. It may be that Patraeus is the antithesis of a fighting General, but it may also be that he is a very good administrator (even if he's also a man who married well and is very good at ascending in environments studded with greasy poles).
It is possible to distrust, even despise, the bootlicking of superiors — evident in the General's public and obsequious support of the Bush administration's political objectives — traits alleged in that article to be long-running hallmarks of a career, and yet admire the ability to motivate subordinates and manipulate the media. Even if one discounts for the besotted reporter factor, it seems pretty clear that the areas of Iraq that General Petraeus's troops occupied were more peaceful and stayed bought longer than other non-Kurdish areas under US control. That was an achievement, exactly the sort we hope for from our modern military Proconsuls, although not one that can easily be replicated on a larger scale now that he's starting from a worse position.