President Obama accepted his resignation Wednesday after Gen. McChrystal and his aides were quoted in a magazine article criticizing perceived weakness and indecision by top administration officials regarding the war in Afghanistan.
Gen. Petraeus is the main proponent of the Army’s counterinsurgency strategy that is being adapted from Iraq to Afghanistan with limited results so far. He also has the backing of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and his selection is expected to patch over the political battles between Gen. McChrystal and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, retired ArmyLt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, Mrs. Clinton’s point man in Kabul.
The appointment prompted one national security wag to say: “This is an internal war in the Clinton-Obama sphere.”
Before Gen. Petraeus was chosen Tuesday evening, the short list of replacements included ArmyGen. Raymond T. Odierno, current commander of U.S. forces in Iraq; and ArmyLt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, current director of the Joint Staff and a former commander in Iraq.
Others in the mix were Marine CorpsGen. James N. Mattis, current commander of the Joint Forces Command in southern Virginia and former Iraq commander; and ArmyLt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, current commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan and the general in charge of day-to-day military operations.
Gen. McChrystal had one thing going for him that apparently was not enough to salvage his career: He had voted for Mr. Obama for president, making him part of a minority of military leaders who do not lean conservative or, at least, Republican.
The points against him were many. They included his comment to a television interviewer in September that he had had only one meeting with the president, making it appear that Mr. Obama was not interested in the Afghanistan war or had handed it off to subordinates. He also clashed with Mr. Eikenberry.
But Mr. Gates ended up having an influential role in providing advice to the president on his decision to let Gen. McChrystal resign. Mr. Gates‘ statement Tuesday night signaled that he no longer supported the general, noting that the general was guilty of “a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case.”View Entire Story
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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