McChrystal Out, Afghanistan Policy Unchanged. But is it Working?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

President Barack Obama announces the resignation of US commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his successor Gen. David Petraeus (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images/Getty)

President Obama on Tuesday relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his duties in Afghanistan, less than 48 hours after it was revealed that McChrystal and his aides made disparaging remarks about high-ranking members of the Obama administration to a freelance journalist from Rolling Stone. McChrystal will be replaced by Gen. David Petraeus. We want to know what you think. Should Gen. Stanley McChrystal have kept his job?

President Obama seemed troubled by the incident, saying he had accepted McChrystal's resignation with "considerable regret." But Obama also said firmly that U.S. policy in Afghanistan will not change when Petraeus steps in.

Should it, though? The Rolling Stone article that lead to McChrystal's removal noted that morale among U.S. forces in Afghanistan is low – and that some troops seem to feel that counterinsurgency operations, which place a high emphasis on ensuring Afghan civilians aren't hurt and working closely with Afghanistan's government, simply aren't working.

After the undoing of U.S. gains in Marjah and a delay in a planned operation in Kandahar, can we assume that our current strategy is working?

David Kilcullen is author of a new book, "Counterinsurgency." Kilcullen has also served as an advisor to both Gen. McChrystal in Afghanistan and Gen. Petraeus in Iraq.


David Kilcullen

Produced by:

Noel King

Comments [6]

Jim from Mechanicsburg, PA

I don't see how anybody can complain about Pres. Obama's decision to replace Gen. McChrystal. It has nothing to do with Obama personally. An officer in his position simply can't publicly disrespect the Commander in Chief, and Obama can't allow it to happen without the most severe consequences. Further, what does it say about McChrystal's judgement that he would allow a reporter from Rolling Stone to hear this stuff. What else might he do that could prejudice America's interests? From all indications, McChrystal is very good at his job. But his judgement in this matter is very suspect. It is noteworthy that Republican Senators with lots of military experience including McCain and Graham have not objected to Obama's decision to relieve McChrystal. This decision is a no-brainer and is perhaps the easiest one Obama has had to make.

Jun. 24 2010 02:24 PM

Two guests this morning said that although the worst comments in the Rolling Stone piece came from others, McChrystal is being held responsible because in the military, leaders are responsible for their subordinates.

But Petraeus is McChrystal's boss, so why isn't he being held responsible for what his subordinate said?

Jun. 24 2010 10:31 AM
Carol Stewart from 10463

Given the importance of this Major General and his charge to carry out a "counter- insurgency," policy, are we to believe that our government and military had no heads-up regarding the Rolling Stone article, is that even possible.

Jun. 24 2010 07:33 AM

How many comments should biden have been removed from office? Didn't obama call a police officer's actions that he 'acted stupidly'?? I'm disgusted that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was replaced because he did nothing different than biden and obama!!! What a hypochrite!! Sure hope this is a one term presidency!!

Jun. 23 2010 02:10 PM
Nikos Retsos from Chicago, Illinois

Should General McChrystal keep his job? Yes, in my opinion - if Obama wants to keep his job in 2012!

Finally, the dichotomy of the Afghan war quagmire and failures came into the spotlight. And that is: a) Obama's close circle of emissaries try to micromanage the war with models of the battle drawn by Obama's National Security Adviser, General Jones, General Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Richard Holbrooke. General Jones, out of duty for 25 years, told NBC one year ago that U.S. airstrikes against Taliban that killed thousands of Afghan civilians will be continued. In his words: "We cannot win a war fighting with one hand tied behind our back," on quote. That outdated mentality didn't fit in with General Machrystal's belief that unless you win the hearts and minds of the people, you cannot win a war. That aphorism was expressed by the Greek historian Herodotus 2.500 years ago, and it holds true to the day - as the Vietnam war proved. And b) General McChrystal and his commanders who reduced greatly airstrikes and civilian casualties, and have been trying to win the war by winning the hearts of the people - not by blasting them to pieces from the sky! And the latest news reports have confirmed that NATO officials and Afghan president Hamid Karzai are solidly on McChrystal's side prove that he is a no-nonsense commander - not a clown! But General McChrystal has probably "had enough" external meddling on his job, and he had to take it out!

Ironically, Afghan president Hamid Karzai was the first to have "enough!" Disgusted as McChrystal was about 6 months ago with Obama's string pullers in Afghanistan, he threatened "to quit as president and join the Taliban" - unless Obama's emissaries stopped pushing him around. Then Karzai was ordered to come to Washington [ like General McChrystal] to explain, and he came and backed down because he had no choice. Without U.S. support his regime will collapse in 24 hours.

General McChystal would probably go down - dismissed. But that may also determine not only the outcome of the Afghan war, but it may also determine Obama's re-election chances in 2012. The U.S. failure in Afghanistan no doubt will have internal implications for politicians responsible for its mismanagement. The late U.S. president Lyndon Johnson bragged that "he would defeat the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong on the
battlefield," as he was assured by his camaraderie. But he decided not to run for re-election when polls showed than less than 20% of Americans approved his handling of the war. Barack Obama may soon start to see the dark Lyndon Johnson clouds in his re-election horizon.
Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Jun. 23 2010 11:47 AM
Tom Degan from Goshen, NY

A good case has been made that the president should fire McChrystal. While I might be inclined to agree, my problem is that so many are making that argument by referencing Harry Truman's firing of Douglas MacArthur in 1951.

The two cases aren't even close.

In 1951 at the height of the Korean War, MacArthur was advocating to the press - against the wishes of his commander-in-chef - extending the conflict by invading China. Had that happened it may have started World War III. Had the General had his way in 1951, we'd STILL be fighting in Korea.

Old Harry made a wise and courageous decision and hindsight has shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he did the right thing.

Stanley McChrystal may be many things - Doug MacArthur he ain't.

Tom Degan

Jun. 23 2010 10:51 AM

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