Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is the deeply corrupt Karzai a reliable partner in Afghanistan? Is General McChrystal?

UPDATE: McChrystal is out. McChrystal was more loyal to the deeply corrupt Afghan president than he was to the American president.

In replacing McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, Obama reasserts authority

By Linda Feldmann
Christian Science Monitor
June 23, 2010

“The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general,” Obama said. “It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.”

...Earlier, McChrystal had been criticized for his role in the faulty reporting of the 2004 friendly fire death of Army Ranger (and former NFL football player) Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

...In a rare show of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans alike applauded Obama’s decision.

Obama's choice of Petraeus a 'masterstroke'

June 23, 2010
...CNN: What do you think of the president's decision?

Fareed Zakaria: This is a masterstroke. Petraeus needs no on-the-job training, knows the theater, and is beloved by the troops. He understands COIN [counter-insurgency strategy], literally wrote the book on it, and most important -- knows how to execute it. He has superb political skills and understands that a close working relationship with his civilian counterparts from the State Department, White House, and other agencies is not a bother but at the heart of the mission's success...The question I have, which in some ways is greater, is not whether Gen. McChrystal is guilty of insubordination but of incompetence. ...What you see in Gen. McChrystal is someone who is openly disdainful of and sets himself up almost in opposition to the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, the State Department high representative Richard Holbrooke, the national security adviser, the vice president...If McChrystal and his team are so contemptuous of these other people whose support is absolutely critical to the success of the mission, then he's failing at his mission...

If you compare McChrystal's attitude toward his civilian counterparts with that of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq, it's night and day. Petraeus was extremely respectful of Ryan Crocker, the ambassador, extremely respectful of the State Department, always talking about how he really admired and appreciated their efforts and wanted them more involved, held almost all his briefings along with Crocker. And that clearly was a crucial part of why the surge succeeded, because the whole premise of the surge is that the military part is not by itself going to be enough...


Can the US win in Afghanistan? It would be more likely if Karzai and McChrystal were more loyal--not just to each other, but to the people of Afghanistan and the US, respectively.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal to explain anti-administration comments

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan was summoned to Washington for a White House meeting after apologizing for flippant and dismissive remarks about top Obama administration officials.
By Greg Jaffe and Ernesto LondoƱo
Washington Post
June 23, 2010

...During his 12 months in Kabul, McChrystal has earned a reputation as a forthright commander with an unscripted style and a strong work ethic. He has forged a close working relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was quick to come to the general's defense Tuesday, saying that his loss would be a major setback for the war effort.

Still, McChrystal has stumbled frequently in his interactions with the media, often to the great irritation of the White House. It has interpreted the general's outspoken manner as an effort to box Obama into backing a major troop surge and large-scale counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

In the article, McChrystal suggests that Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, the top U.S. civilian in Afghanistan, "betrayed" him by suggesting in a classified cable last fall that Karzai was not a credible partner in the counterinsurgency strategy that McChrystal was advocating...

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