Gen. David Petraeus to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan
President Obama has accepted the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal after comments the general made about Obama and other civilian commanders appeared in a Rolling Stone article this week. McChrystal appears remorseful, and with good reason.
Obama is replacing McChrystal with head of the United States Central Command, and Iraq War veteran, General David Petraeus. This is unlikely to change the COIN strategy in Afghanistan, or have any significant impact on the course of the war.
Rich Lowry calls this a ‘home run’ for Obama:
I’m not sure how Obama could have handled this any better. He was genuinely graceful about McChrystal and his explanation of why he had to go made perfect sense. He called for unity within his adminstration in pursuing the war and sounded quite stalwart about both the war and about the strategy. More importantly, his choice of Petraeus as a replacement for McChrystal is a brilliant move: He gets a heavy-weight, an unassailable expert in this kind of warfare, and someone who presumably can step in pretty seamlessly. He also picked someone who has expressed (very diplomatic) misgivings about the July 2011 deadline and who will have the clout and credibility to tell the president that he can’t afford to go down in troops when July comes, should circumstances warrant. (It should also be noted that this is a step down for Petraeus and he can’t relish directly managing another war — that he will do so speaks to his selfless patriotism.) In short, Obama has made the most of a rotten situation.
I tend to agree. While Afghanistan may be a quagmire, and victory there is anything but certain, Patraeus is still the best possible choice, and Obama did handle the entire affair gracefully and decisively. Letting McChrystal stay in command would have set a terrible precedent.
Not only is Petraeus a safe pick, allowing Obama to dodge even his fiercest national security critics, he’s also the best pick for this particular mission, bringing confidence and experience to the table. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also largely on board with the President’s overall strategy in Afghanistan.
For more on what exactly needs to be done in Afghanistan, read this piece by Spencer Ackerman.
(photo via Daylife)