Let’s just say it: Gen. Stanley McChrystal was fired today; the (now former) commander of American forces in Afghanistan was relieved of his duties after an article in Rolling Stone quoted him saying, “Who’s that?” when asked about Vice President Biden and calling a retired four-star general a “clown.” The general even belittled the president himself: The article says that McChrystal thought the president looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” in their first meeting together, surrounded by about a dozen senior military officials.
Gen. David Petraeus, currently McChrystal’s boss, will take over; “a change in personnel, but not a change in policy,” according to President Obama.
But over in the blogosphere, analysts wonder if it’s not the policy that needs changing.
Thomas Rutting at Foreign Policy says that
The Boss should be angry — or better: concerned — about something else: here, on the ground, things are on fire. Violence is even increasing, ‘attributable,’ as the latest UN report on Afghanistan puts it, “to an increase of military operations in the southern region during the first quarter of 2010,” but also to the Taliban’s counter-surge.
While Informed Consent’s Juan Cole says
In short, we have no idea why U.S. troops are being sent to Afghanistan at such an accelerating rate. It isn’t to fight al-Qaeda. And if it is mainly a matter of fighting the Taliban, why should we do that? They are not going to go away, and their brand of Muslim fundamentalism is by now woven deeply into the fabric of rural Pashtun life, such that for foreign Christian troops to argue the Pashtuns out of it at the point of a gun is a fool’s errand.
Thomas Ricks is also concerned about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, but says there’s an another important question that’s been left hanging: Iraq.
If Iraq begins to fall apart, and Petraeus is busy in Kabul, who is going to step on?
We’ll have more on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in this week’s show. In the meantime, here’s the president speaking about the turnover: