Gen. David Petraeus replaces commander disgraced by Rolling Stone

A portrait of Gen. David Petraeus

Gen. David Petraeus is the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Wikipedia photo.

Gen. David Petraeus was named to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the new U.S. commander in the Afghanistan war. After a profile of McChrystal in Rolling Stone portrayed him as openly contemptuous of President Obama and key members of his national security team, McChrystal offered his resignation and Obama accepted it. Opinion has been nearly universal so far that to preserve America’s civilian control over the military, McChrystal had to go and that Petraeus is the best choice to take over in Afghanistan.

Petraeus’ political savvy

Gen. David Petraeus, who heads U.S. Central Command, took what looked like certain failure in Iraq and brought the U.S. war there toward an acceptable outcome. David Ignatius of the Washington Post said that if the Taliban sold stock, its price would surely have fallen after Wednesday’s announcement that Petraeus would assume control in Afghanistan. Ignatius also said that Petraeus is the most deft political figure he’s seen in uniform who always remembered that he worked for civilian leadership.

Petraeus a ‘win-win’ for Obama

Appointing Gen. Petraeus after McChrystal’s challenge to his leadership is a win-win for Obama, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Obama gains a top commander back in the field, and he also reasserts his role as civilian commander in chief. After insulting comments about the president and top administration officials made by Gen. McChrystal and his staff to a reporter from Rolling Stone, Obama quickly summoned the general from Afghanistan to Washington and he won’t be going back.

Gen. McChrystal’s apology no help

Gen. McChrystal apologized for the Rolling Stone article on Tuesday but didn’t say he was misrepresented by it. CNN reports that a source close to McChrystal said that during the 30-minute meeting between Obama and McChrystal on Tuesday, McChrystal briefly explained the Rolling Stone article that derailed his career, took responsibility and then offered his resignation. The president “had no intention of keeping him,” the source said. McChrystal’s personal belongings will be shipped home from Afghanistan.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Gen. Petraeus represents a change in style but not substance according to Michael Hastings, the freelance writer of the Rolling Stone article at the center of the controversy. On June 23, Hastings wrote that when Obama replaced McChrystal with Petraeus the president said it was a change in personnel, not policy, and policy has been the problem all along. Hastings said Obama picked Petraeus because he is a master at telling Americans what they want to hear. It will be Petraeus’ job to spin Afghanistan from a defeat into a face-saving draw after spending hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives that won’t make us any safer from terrorists.

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