McChrystal out, Petraeus in: First reactions
President Obama has relieved the scandal-plagued McChrystal of his Afghan command and, in a surprise move, given the job to David Petraeus
After a 30-minute meeting this morning, President Barack Obama has relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his duties as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and announced he will nominate Gen. David Petraeus to replace him. Obama's decision comes a day after Rolling Stone's publication of a damning profile of McChrystal, which includes "blistering remarks" by the general and his staff about senior members of the Obama administration, including the president himself. With the war in Afghanistan still at a fevered pitch after nine years of fighting, was Obama's shakeup of military command the right move? (Watch Obama make the announcement.) Here, breaking opinion:
Stunning — and telling: "The shift from McChrystal to Petraeus is stunning and unexpected," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. But "by tapping Petraeus, it's clear Obama isn't changing course in Afghanistan."
The president played the politics just right: "Obama appears to have split the baby rather adeptly here," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, "softening the blow of losing McChrystal by arguably trading up for the legendary Petraeus. That should dampen criticism over cashiering McChrystal, especially among Republicans on Capitol Hill."
A bolder side of Obama: Wow, says Think Progress' Matthew Yglesias via Twitter. It is "so un-Obama to be this badass."
Unfortunate, but necessary: "This is a real tragedy because Stan McChrystal is an incredibly capable officer who is a real hero in my book for what he did in Iraq and Afghanistan," former Bush administration official Eric Edelan tells The Daily Caller. But he said "things that were disrespectful of a civilian chain of command." So "I don't see how he could have stayed on."
It looks good on paper, anyway: "With Petraeus now running the Afghan 'surge,'" says Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Dish, "we are back to square one: An impossible and contradictory war that requires permanent occupation to work and twelve months to succeed."
Even Obama's opponents should back this move: "I think conservatives are making a big mistake citing all sorts of legitimate reasons for McChrystal to have expressed frustration," says Victor David Hanson at the National Review. "I agree with almost all of them, but they are not the issue, which remains judgment, the chain of command, civilian/military relations, and the very wisdom of palling around Paris with a loose-cannon reporter."
This is much bigger than one general: The dismissal of Gen. McChrystal "will help slow the increasing erosion in civil-military relations," says Katrina Vanden Heuvel in The Washington Post. It also allows Obama to "change course and craft a responsible strategy to end the war in Afghanistan." The "runaway general has paid for his latest public act of insubordination."
See more of The Week's coverage of the General McChrystal story: • McChrystal vs. Obama: A timeline of their clashes• The List: A short history of other "furious" Obama moments• 5 "insubordinate" quotes that cost McChrystal his job