McChrystal Resigns, Petraeus Named As Replacement [Updated]

This from the UK Telegraph's Toby Harnden:

A senior Capitol Hill source tells me that General Stanley McChrystal had tendered his resignation to President Barack Obama and that the White House is actively discussing a replacement who could be quickly confirmed by the Senate.

The source said that among the names being touted as possible successors are General James Mattis, the outgoing head of the US Joint Forces Command and due to retire after being passed over as US Marine Corps commander, and Lieutenant General William Caldwell, commander of Nato’s Training Mission in Afghanistan.

Of course, offering to resign is not the same as actually resigning and it remains to be seen whether Mr Obama will accept the resignation. Donald Rumsfeld offered to resign as Pentagon chief on more than one occasion but President George W. Bush requested that he continue in post before eventually firing him in November 2006.

Similar stories, albeit ones that hedge their bets, from CNN and Fox News.

I take this to mean not that the General has resigned, but that he will do so at today's meeting. If replacements are already being discussed, than it sounds like Obama is going to accept. My guess is that if the leader of the COIN strategy is out, next summer's withdrawal might actually be more than a token one - it's a bit late in the game for yet ANOTHER new strategy. We'll see.

Update: The president has accepted McChrystal's resignation. David Petraeus will take over in Afghanistan - so with an old involved hand like that taking over, I have to take back what I said about the leader of the COIN strategy being out and the war winding down. The appeal of McChrystal was always that he was in the Petraeus mold. Well, Petraeus is certainly inthe Petraeus mold.

Tags: Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal (all tags)



the COIN alternative is not better

The Biden alternative isn't withdrawal, it is more focus on killing people. It means more drone strikes, more bombing, less concern for civilian casualties. The U.S. footprint will be smaller, we will have fewer troops on the ground, but it will be a return to the Bush strategy of counterterrorism. Rather than cooperate with and build Afghanistani institutions we will return to bombing Taliban and Al Quaeda compounds based on fragmentary information.

Afghanistan will go back to being the forgotten war, where we plant the seeds of anti-American radical Islam.

by tib 2010-06-23 09:52AM | 0 recs
It is hardly a true insurgency

The problem is this stopped being an "insurgency" long ago. This was an insurgency in the first couple of years in the immediate aftermath of the Afghanistan war. Now it is a proxy war waged by the Pakistani intelligence through Afghan and other international fighters. Ironically they are being funded to fight the US with US aid. Address the Pakistani problem and you will address Afghanistan, otherwise all this COIN strategy will come to nothing.

by tarheel74 2010-06-23 10:11AM | 0 recs
Can't Obama fire himself?

Its his failed war.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-06-23 11:14AM | 0 recs
Petraeus makes sense

Petraeus is unlikely to back away from his own COIN strategy, and he has the political weight to push back on Biden, Eikenberry and Holbrooke. If Obama is going to pursue a COIN strategy he should do it right, and Petraeus can do it right.

I'm relieved that Obama chose to continue the strategy, and did not revert to a hands off approach with punitive air raids. COIN is hard and will cost more of our soldiers their lives, but it is more likely to contain Al Qaeda.

The Taliban were always the Pakistani ISI's proxies, long before our 2001 invasion. But McChrystal and Petreaus's goal is not to defeat the Taliban, it is to deny Al Qaeda a haven. Incorporating the Taliban into an Afghanistan government is a possible outcome.


by tib 2010-06-23 03:08PM | 0 recs
RE: Petraeus makes sense

This is a simplistic trap, because in that region titles of groups are words used to recognize the chiefs, at the ground level all groups are amorphous. Some people can be with the Afghan Taliban one day, Pakistani taliban the next, or al qaeda, or jaish-e-mohammad, or lashkar etc. It's like the hydra with many heads. US and western intelligence like to compartmentalize groups because we are used to that. While Pakistani ISI uses these rubrics to mislead us. In the end there are no good extremists or bad extremists, there are extremists. However some independent observers like Fareed Zakaria believe that there is a core group within the Afghan Taliban who are willing to negotiate peace. Unfortunately the ISI has been cracking down on that group as evidenced by the recent arrest in Karachi of a Taliban official who was in peace negotiations with the Karzai government.

by tarheel74 2010-06-23 03:40PM | 0 recs


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