|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, expressed long-term interest in running for the US presidency when he was stationed in Baghdad, according to a senior Iraqi official who knew him at that time.
Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.
"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.
General Petraeus has a reputation in the US Army for being a man of great ambition. If he succeeds in reversing America's apparent failure in Iraq, he would be a natural candidate for the White House in the presidential election in 2012.
His able defence of the "surge" in US troop numbers in Iraq as a success before Congress this week has made him the best-known soldier in America. An articulate, intelligent and energetic man, he has always shown skill in managing the media.
But General Petraeus's open interest in the presidency may lead critics to suggest that his own political ambitions have influenced him in putting an optimistic gloss on the US military position in Iraq .
Mr Khadim was a senior adviser in the Iraqi Interior Ministry in 2004-05 when Iyad Allawi was prime minister.
"My office was in the Adnan Palace in the Green Zone, which was close to General Petraeus's office," Mr Khadim recalls. He had meetings with the general because the Interior Ministry was involved in vetting the loyalty of Iraqis recruited as army officers. Mr Khadim was critical of the general's choice of Iraqis to work with him.
For a soldier whose military abilities and experience are so lauded by the White House, General Petraeus has had a surprisingly controversial career in Iraq. His critics hold him at least partly responsible for three debacles: the capture of Mosul by the insurgents in 2004; the failure to train an effective Iraqi army and the theft of the entire Iraqi arms procurement budget in 2004-05.