President Barack Obama on Wednesday replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan and nominated Gen. David Petraeus to replace him while affirming support for a counterinsurgency strategy encountering problems.
The dramatic shift came a day after McChrystal's disparaging comments about America's civilian leadership surfaced, and reignited the national debate on the war in Afghanistan -- now in its eighth year with a June death toll of coalition forces that is close to becoming the highest of the war.
Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation "with considerable regret" and named Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, to take over pending Senate confirmation.
Folks like Joe Liberman and John McCain are fond of saying...
General Petreaus literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency
That's because that is true both figuratively and literally. With the successful campaign in Iraq, Petraeus showed the world how to run a counterinsurgency manual. Meanwhile, his actual counterinsurgency manual was published in 2006, shortly before he went to Iraq. Petraeus is taking over with the Afghan theater in disarray but then again, nothing liked more dire than Iraq circa the beginning of 2007. Petraeus has an opportunity to make a case in every history book as America's greatest military person.
Afghanistan has three x factors: the rules of engagement, the timeline for withdrawal, and most importantly, Karzai. Immediately, we'll see if Petraeus will make the rules of engagement. The confirmation hearing should also be a pre qual to his battle over a timeline. Karzai remains the biggest concern. In Iraq, however, no one thought that Nuri Al Maliki could be a great leader right up until he was. Will Karzai go the way of Maliki or the South Vietnamese?