McChrystal replacement


 Barrack Obama sacked Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO and American forces in Afghanistan. He will be replaced by General David Petraeus. Before Petraeus was approved, military operations in Afghanistan were headed by British Major General Nick Carter.
McChrystal was fired after a controversial interview was published in Rolling Stone magazine. In the interview, McChrystal seemed to give a negative assessment of US President Barack Obama, including stating that the president is not properly informed. The publication also included the mocking remarks of his assistants about Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor James Jones.
Opinions divided after publication of the interview. Some found the comments reminiscent of General Douglas McArthur towards President Harry Truman during the Korean War. Others challenged that McChrystal’s interview was not a kind of insubordination. However, McChrystal’s culpability was not the main reason for his replacement. Rather, it had become clear that a breach of trust had erupted between the general and the Oval Office.
In Afghanistan, military operations are headed by McChrystal and Karl Eikenberry is the US Ambassador to Afghanistan. McChrystal and Eikenberry had a difficult relationship. And while McChrystal managed to cooperate with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and implement a number of new policies, Eikenberry trusted neither Karzai nor much of the local population. Information about military operations systematically leaked from Afghanistan, much to McChrystal’s great annoyance.
At the same time, the administration did not have united position on America’s policy in Afghanistan. Vice President Joe Biden opposed the deployment of additional American troops to Afghanistan, but Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, and Robert Gates, defense secretary, supported the surge. However, Clinton and Gates were unhappy with mandatory deadlines for the withdrawal of troops, which was part of Obama’s plan along with the surge. Internal discord within the government made the job even more difficult for the troops on the ground.
Obama then made the mistake of setting dates for military operations as well as the date of their withdrawal, for July 2011. This statement damaged the confidence of military personnel, the trust of Hamid Karzai, and the people of Afghanistan towards the mercurial American policy. Moreover, the decision to surge troops smacked of inconsistency. Whereas the previous administration immediately sent additional troops to Iraq, It took Obama nine months to make a decision on sending additional troops. During a year after the decision, 21,000 soldiers arrived in Afghanistan. The complete deployment of troops will be accomplished in August 2010.
McChrystal’s interview was also commented on by senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, and Lindsay Graham. They were quick to go to the press and call for General David Petraeus to assume McChrystal’s vacant post. Petraeus, who was later nominated and approved to take the job, retains a deep well of credibility for his success in turning the war in Iraq around. In addition, it was Petraeus who co-authored the army’s modern counterinsurgency manual and developed most of the strategies, which calls for human-centered operations to win over the population to deny insurgents support.
Petraeus put this strategy into practice when he took command of coalition forces in Iraq. One such notable success was in the restive Sunni province of Anbar, where the cooperation of US Marines and local tribal leaders weakened Al Qaeda. Per Petraeus’s requests, an additional 30 thousand soldiers were sent to Iraq to enforce this new strategy and expand it throughout the country. From 2007-2008, the additional military troops reduced number of casualties by over 70%. Iraqi people recognized the contribution of Americans to their security and, correspondingly, cooperation dramatically increased. The Obama administration likely hopes for a similar development to occur in Afghanistan; however there are core differences between Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan does not have the same state presence that will be able to assume control over areas which Americans rid of Taliban and Al Qaeda. Although corruption in Iraq was and remains a notable problem, the government of Afghanistan has proven to be exceptional in the depth and breadth of its problems. McChrystal also pointed out these issues as well, as his priority was the development of Afghan police units and the fight against corruption.
Nouri al Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq, has managed to distinguish himself as the leader of the whole country and not of just one particular faction. He managed to become mediator between different opposing groups. This was facilitated through the trust of Iraqi people towards Americans. In Afghanistan, however, trust towards Americans is reducing because many believe that US forces are poised to leave. Both Karzai as well as Afghanistan’s average citizens will inquire about what will happen after July 2011. This in mind, it’s little wonder why Karzai has begun exploring negotiating with the Taliban.
Afghanistan is comprised of ethnic groups which have been in conflict with one another. If the American mission in Iraq was to restore statehood, their goal in Afghanistan is to develop a new country almost from scratch. Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, offered a proposal to turn Afghanistan into a confederation of autonomous regions. According to Kissinger, the US cannot count on the central government for its policies in Afghanistan. Instead, focus should be on the regions. Henry Kissinger believes that it is unreasonable to set any dates if someone hopes to achieve lasting results.
The controversy over McChrystal has raised questions about Obama as a wartime leader. Maybe many Americans remember the campaign advertisement conducted by Hillary Clinton during her presidential bid, in which she underlined Obama’s inexperience. The advertisement depicts the White house. During a moment of crisis, the telephone rings at three in the morning. The audience is left thinking – what kind of leader do I want to answer that telephone? Two years later, it turns out that the White House telephone is ringing permanently and Barrack Obama is not capable of answering.


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