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Afghanistan: its present and future



 
 
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  #161  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 12:57 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

This IS the third time McChrystal has been called on the carpet. If he doesn't fire him (accept his resignation), he looks weak. If he fires him, he has to find a new General to finish out the Afghanistan theater. That can be seen as foolish by some.

McChrystal and his inner circle should have never put their Commander in Chief in such a position in the first place...especially after being warned before.

But, be sure of this...if you look back in history at Generals who butted heads with their Commanders, the Generals never come out to well.


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  #162  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 4:53 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

Quote:
Originally Posted by flimseycauldron View Post
Now Newsweek seems to think that McChrystal should up and resign.

I don't agree wit this. Sometimes I feel like the admin just trips over it's own feet. The point of fact is that Obama already dismissed one commanding officer --- Gen. David McKeirnan. Is the White House going to put pressure on McChrystal to resign? Should McChrystal resign? Are his Rolling Stone words and previous assertations against Biden's plan for Afghanistan enough to merit insubordination?
Well your not supposed to disrespect your commanding officers. I think he was way out of line to go publicly like this. The real question for me is, was he so naive to not realize how much drama this would stir?

It makes you wonder if this was done to make a political statement with him knowing full well that he would have to resign.


  #163  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 5:17 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

In any corporation there has to be mutual trust between the chairman of the board and the CEO. Can't work without. I think it's self evident that the same must apply to the defensive forces. If there isn't mutual trust between the commander in chief and the local commander in the field, the latter must be at least transferred to where he can't do any harm.

If it was a deliberate political statement, I'm afraid it's even worse than just a silly mistake. Openly questioning the legal government is not what military leaders are supposed to do.


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  #164  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 5:58 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

From the statements in RS there seems to be an almost complete breakdown in the chain of command with all ranks publicly questioning the plan and dissing senior commanders civil and military eg the Special Forces operator who said "I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts."

It all reeks of an appalling lack of professionalism and discretion.

What is more unfathomable than the statements is just why McChrystal allowed such access. It all seems a bit McArthur to me.


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  #165  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 6:00 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

Apparently there was a lot of heavy drinking (including the general). So they may have said things while they were impaired. It still shouldn't have happened since they need to maintain readiness.

For the most part, I've been pleased with the response from political sources. Both sides of the aisle have expressed shock and disapproval. I hope that this event isn't turned into a political football.

As for Obama, he really has to fire this guy. Not only has McChrystal exhibited insubordination on his own, but he has also encouraged and permitted it in his staff. And if he and his staff were blabbing due to alcohol, it shows very poor judgment and loose command and control.

Firing him may impact our Afghanistan efforts, but that wasn't going so well, anyway.


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  #166  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 6:03 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

If push comes to shove I think Obama will allow McChrystal to resign.


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  #167  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 6:12 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

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Originally Posted by Wab View Post
If push comes to shove I think Obama will allow McChrystal to resign.
Let's hope so. Ripping off his rank and sacking him wouldn't help much. Especially if there is a widespread resentment within the military.

One of many problems with Afghanistan is that it's easy to point at things going wrong, but nobody knows how to do it right. Nor if it's even possible to do anything right there.


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Old June 23rd, 2010, 10:48 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

I don't think it's a winnable war.


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  #169  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 2:22 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

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Originally Posted by alwaysme View Post
Well your not supposed to disrespect your commanding officers. I think he was way out of line to go publicly like this. The real question for me is, was he so naive to not realize how much drama this would stir?

It makes you wonder if this was done to make a political statement with him knowing full well that he would have to resign.
That's the kicker, isn't it? Either the General is done and wants out or he has really really really bad judgment. Generals of his level have had disagreements with their political "bosses" before - that's nothing new. In those instances the General has two choices - he can resign or carry out his orders. McChrystal did neither. His comments, and those of his aides, are unacceptable and nothing short of insubordination.


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  #170  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 3:13 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

That's so true. If a general (or any senior public servant) has a problem with his or her political masters they do so in private.

However you view it, McChrystal's remaining is untenable.


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  #171  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 3:19 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redhart View Post
This IS the third time McChrystal has been called on the carpet. If he doesn't fire him (accept his resignation), he looks weak. If he fires him, he has to find a new General to finish out the Afghanistan theater. That can be seen as foolish by some.

McChrystal and his inner circle should have never put their Commander in Chief in such a position in the first place...especially after being warned before.

Problem is it is the White House who set up the interview. What happens if he refuses to do an interview at the behest of the White House? The PR person who set up the interview resigned but really none of this happened secretly in a bubble.



Quote:
Originally Posted by alwaysme View Post
Well your not supposed to disrespect your commanding officers. I think he was way out of line to go publicly like this. The real question for me is, was he so naive to not realize how much drama this would stir?
McChrystal said nothing new, imho. We already knew that he disagreed with Obama on troop levels. We all knew that he did not like Biden's views on the war. We already knew that he thinks Karzai is corrupt. We knew this all from previous PR moments where McChrystal was not able to keep his opinions to himself. The problem is the way the RS article said it. Which is to say it all sounded very crude and somewhate juvenile. But then this is Rolling Stone magazine, not the Times. Crude and "real" is why people, especially the young people that Rolling Stone caters to, buy the magazine. The White House tries too hard to hip and current. I think this time it bit them in the butt.


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Originally Posted by Alastor View Post
In any corporation there has to be mutual trust between the chairman of the board and the CEO. Can't work without. I think it's self evident that the same must apply to the defensive forces. If there isn't mutual trust between the commander in chief and the local commander in the field, the latter must be at least transferred to where he can't do any harm.

How can you base trust off of one face to face meeting when the job position is running a war where people die? IMHO, in his hastiness to remove Gen. McKeirnan and look like he was moving on to a better war strategy Obama never defined what winning looked like to McChrystal. And McChrystal assumed that Obama hired him for his knowledge and experience and would therefore follow his lead. They were at loggerheads from the outset and didn't even know it!

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Originally Posted by ComicBookWorm View Post
As for Obama, he really has to fire this guy. Not only has McChrystal exhibited insubordination on his own, but he has also encouraged and permitted it in his staff. And if he and his staff were blabbing due to alcohol, it shows very poor judgment and loose command and control.

I'd be very careful to say what he permitted in his staff based off a Rolling Stone article where such behaviour is sought after and encouraged. Per the article McChrystal has men whom like him and men who dissaprove of him for many of his orders such as "courageous restraint" where you actually get a reward for not shooting in lifethreatening situations. Or his not targeting certain area because of civilans. Many of his troops don't like him because of policies he put in place due to the Adminastration. Many of the troops dislike Karzai, for instance, but he has to play nice with Karzai because Obama tells him to.

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Originally Posted by Alastor View Post
One of many problems with Afghanistan is that it's easy to point at things going wrong, but nobody knows how to do it right. Nor if it's even possible to do anything right there.
This is where I think the true problem lies.

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Originally Posted by monster_mom View Post
In those instances the General has two choices - he can resign or carry out his orders. McChrystal did neither.
Which orders did he not carry out?

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Originally Posted by monster_mom View Post
His comments, and those of his aides, are unacceptable and nothing short of insubordination.
Unacceptable, certainly. Insubordination? If his opinions have kept him from executing Obama's express orders I could see that. But I didn't read anything in the article that says or suggests he deliberately defied orders on the battlefield.


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  #172  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 3:41 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

As a veteran and a former naval officer, I'd say that the commentary, if accurate, demonstrated poor judgement on General McChrystal's part. He should have known better. Still, the point is that he was Obama's choice to execute a strategy. This is war time and this is the war on which the President has staked his reputation.

The question is whether this is a Macarthur moment or a Patton moment? Macarthur had definite ulterior political motives and Truman had to fire him over Korea. Patton, on the other hand, was confident in his tactical abilities, and was given a lot of leeway.

McChrystal, by all accounts, even the President's, is the best suited for the job. So, do you fire the best weapon available over a Rolling Stone article, or does the President dress McChrystal down and let him keep the job?

Not an easy question to answer.


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  #173  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 4:24 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

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Originally Posted by USNAGator91 View Post
McChrystal, by all accounts, even the President's, is the best suited for the job. So, do you fire the best weapon available over a Rolling Stone article, or does the President dress McChrystal down and let him keep the job?
Well, I would look at the rest of his job performance. Is he following orders with the rest of his job? Perhaps he simply needs fewer public speaking engagements combined with a speech writer?

Of course Obama has made comments that if he was running BP the CEO of that company would have been fired a long time ago. Sometimes the best person for the job is someone with a little more political savvy.


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  #174  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 6:02 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

That could be the problem, where the Afghan War is being seen solely through a political prism. Unfortunately, there is no real military-only solution for Afghanistan and you may be right in the for a more politically aware person.

I've been a major proponent of this conflict, however, I simply don't see a way for a military solution to work, especially when the President has telegraphed a withdrawal which the enemy seems to be feeding off of. Unlike Iraq, there is no real central government to fill a vacuum once a region has been pacified. Also unlike Iraq, there is no strong tradition of central authority in Afghanistan.

It may be time to cut our losses and pull out, as much as it pains me to say it. The President hasn't articulated an endgame strategy, besides the withdrawal. He hasn't established victory conditions or milestones to look forward to (i.e. in the Iraq model, there were timelines established for national elections, formation of an interim government, more elections and the formation of a permanent government).

Given the rather ambiguous nature of the President's focus on this conflict, I think it's time to pull out.


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  #175  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 8:12 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

Well it's official and McChrystal is out. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_obama_mcchrystal

Petraeus is to take over.


  #176  
Old June 23rd, 2010, 11:44 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

No surprises there. I think we all knew what was going to happen once the comments made to Rolling Stone leaked. I'll be very interested in seeing what McChrystal does going forward. Here's video of President Obama's news conference announcing the McChrystal decision:



And here's the full transcript of his remarks:

President Obama on Afghanistan:    


  
TranscriptTHE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today I accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military, and for our country.

I'm also pleased to nominate General David Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan, which will allow us to maintain the momentum and leadership that we need to succeed.

I don't make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal, as we are in full agreement about our strategy. Nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult. Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully. I've got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform.

Over the last nine years, with America fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has earned a reputation as one of our nation’s finest soldiers. That reputation is founded upon his extraordinary dedication, his deep intelligence, and his love of country. I relied on his service, particularly in helping to design and lead our new strategy in Afghanistan. So all Americans should be grateful for General McChrystal’s remarkable career in uniform.

But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security.

The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. 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.

My multiple responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief led me to this decision. First, I have a responsibility to the extraordinary men and women who are fighting this war, and to the democratic institutions that I've been elected to lead. I've got no greater honor than serving as Commander-in-Chief of our men and women in uniform, and it is my duty to ensure that no diversion complicates the vital mission that they are carrying out.

That includes adherence to a strict code of conduct. The strength and greatness of our military is rooted in the fact that this code applies equally to newly enlisted privates and to the general officer who commands them. That allows us to come together as one. That is part of the reason why America has the finest fighting force in the history of the world.

It is also true that our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals. That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command, and respect for civilian control over that chain of command. And that’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I believe this decision is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to standards that are at the core of our democracy.

Second, I have a responsibility to do what is -- whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan, and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. I believe that this mission demands unity of effort across our alliance and across my national security team. And I don’t think that we can sustain that unity of effort and achieve our objectives in Afghanistan without making this change. That, too, has guided my decision.

I’ve just told my national security team that now is the time for all of us to come together. Doing so is not an option, but an obligation. I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division. All of us have personal interests; all of us have opinions. Our politics often fuels conflict, but we have to renew our sense of common purpose and meet our responsibilities to one another, and to our troops who are in harm’s way, and to our country.

We need to remember what this is all about. Our nation is at war. We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks. We persist and we persevere. We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan security from within, and launch attacks against innocent men, women, and children in our country and around the world.

So make no mistake: We have a clear goal. We are going to break the Taliban’s momentum. We are going to build Afghan capacity. We are going to relentlessly apply pressure on al Qaeda and its leadership, strengthening the ability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to do the same.

That’s the strategy that we agreed to last fall; that is the policy that we are carrying out, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In that effort, we are honored to be joined by allies and partners who have stood by us and paid the ultimate price through the loss of their young people at war. They are with us because the interests and values that we share, and because this mission is fundamental to the ability of free people to live in peace and security in the 21st century.

General Petraeus and I were able to spend some time this morning discussing the way forward. I’m extraordinarily grateful that he has agreed to serve in this new capacity. It should be clear to everybody, he does so at great personal sacrifice to himself and to his family. And he is setting an extraordinary example of service and patriotism by assuming this difficult post.

Let me say to the American people, this is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy. General Petraeus fully participated in our review last fall, and he both supported and helped design the strategy that we have in place. In his current post at Central Command, he has worked closely with our forces in Afghanistan. He has worked closely with Congress. He has worked closely with the Afghan and Pakistan governments and with all our partners in the region. He has my full confidence, and I am urging the Senate to confirm him for this new assignment as swiftly as possible.

Let me conclude by saying that it was a difficult decision to come to the conclusion that I’ve made today. Indeed, it saddens me to lose the service of a soldier who I’ve come to respect and admire. But the reasons that led me to this decision are the same principles that have supported the strength of our military and our nation since the founding.

So, once again, I thank General McChrystal for his enormous contributions to the security of this nation and to the success of our mission in Afghanistan. I look forward to working with General Petraeus and my entire national security team to succeed in our mission. And I reaffirm that America stands as one in our support for the men and women who defend it.

Thank you very much.
  



ETA:

From Section 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

UCMJAny commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.


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Last edited by purplehawk; June 24th, 2010 at 12:48 am.
  #177  
Old June 24th, 2010, 2:03 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

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Originally Posted by flimseycauldron View Post
Problem is it is the White House who set up the interview. What happens if he refuses to do an interview at the behest of the White House?
If he felt that he couldn't refuse the interview he could have at least exercised discretion and professionalism.


Quote:
McChrystal said nothing new, imho. We already knew that he disagreed with Obama on troop levels. We all knew that he did not like Biden's views on the war. We already knew that he thinks Karzai is corrupt. We knew this all from previous PR moments where McChrystal was not able to keep his opinions to himself.
It was these (and other incidents) why I thought that he was the wrong person for the job and that the best general for the situation was Petraeus.

Quote:
Obama never defined what winning looked like to McChrystal.
In almost nine years no political leader anywhere has been able to coherently enunciate a consistent policy of what would constitute a "win".

Quote:
Many of the troops dislike Karzai, for instance, but he has to play nice with Karzai because Obama tells him to.
That has been a policy carried over from the Bush era and as long as the west is willing to prop up the regime that's the way it is. And as for the troops not liking Karzai, tough. They have their orders. They may not like it but that's what they signed on for. It's the professionalism thing.


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  #178  
Old June 24th, 2010, 4:49 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

I don't think there really is any optional thing to do. Either prop up the existing regime or remove it by force which would imply that the country is held under occupation.

As for McChrystal, the more I read about it the more I suspect that he and some of his staff are in an early stage of burn out. Which would make his actions more excusable but in itself would be reason enough to replace him as field commander.


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Old June 24th, 2010, 11:31 am
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

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Originally Posted by flimseycauldron View Post
I'd be very careful to say what he permitted in his staff based off a Rolling Stone article where such behaviour is sought after and encouraged.
I'm not sure I need the advice, since I tend to stay decently informed about the background to news events via multiple news sources. I watched several interviews (and read several articles) where Rolling Stone repeatedly explained what their interview process was, and how they sourced the material, including several above-the-board efforts to make sure the quotes were accurate and whether they (the general and the staff) wanted to deny or retract their words. Nor did the general and his staff dispute whether the quotes should have been off the record or that they were tricked into their statements.

Therefore the words came out of their mouths. And that's how the situation has to be evaluated. I don't think Obama had any choice to take any other actions than he did. This was handled as cleanly and as decisively as possible. Petraeus was the best choice possible. I hope he is able to apply what he learned in Iraq to Afghanistan.


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Old June 24th, 2010, 2:10 pm
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Re: Afghanistan: its present and future

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I'm not sure I need the advice, since I tend to stay decently informed about the background to news events via multiple news sources.

I just said I would be careful. No matter what we know from which media source it's hard to know the exact circumstances for things that happen. I never denied that he said what he said, or did what he did. But I also have never seen anything where he defied direct orders from the White House. In fact McChrystal instituted policies presumably on the White Houses orders or with the White Houses approval, that wasn't popular with his own troops. I, personally, saw nothing in the article that he or his aides, haven't flat out said or alluded to before. What was different this time is the crude way in which it was presented. That RS article tended to give off a Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men vibe. RS is great at picking up on peoples flaws but not so good at highlighting their virtues.

I simply do not want to villify the General. I can understand why Obama would want to remove him. And I have no problem with Obama doing so, but I think terms like insubordination are way over the top. I don't think Obama himself even used that term.



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Originally Posted by ComicBookWorm View Post
Therefore the words came out of their mouths. And that's how the situation has to be evaluated. I don't think Obama had any choice to take any other actions than he did. This was handled as cleanly and as decisively as possible. Petraeus was the best choice possible. I hope he is able to apply what he learned in Iraq to Afghanistan.
I don't think the White House has left themselves much wiggle room to be honest. The public is kind of fed up with powerful people getting free rides because they are "the best people for the job". Obama can't in one breath say "If I were in charge I would have fired the CEO of BP a long time ago" and then in the next breath overlook the General's comments. That being said the Adminastration is just as responsible for the outcome, nay more responsible for the outcome, of the Afghan war as the General was. Because there is no winning strategy. They don't even know what winning looks like. Bush didn't, and now Obama doesn't either. Part of Obama's job is to listen to his commanders in the field as much as listen to the people back home. That's two Generals now that have told him things that he didn't want to hear, and an Afghan war that, imho, has stalled with Obama sticking to his party line. Remember, McChrystal voted for Obama presumably because he agreed with Obama's take on the war. That was before McChrystal was installed and saw with his own eyes what was going on. I simply don't see putting fresh blood in at the top brass is going to change things very much. I could be wrong.

I have great respect for General Petraeus. However, I didn't see signs in the street proclaiming how we won the Iraq War. Which is a totally different monster, btw, than Afghanistan. I do hope that General Petraeus can turn things around but I don't know what that would look like other than not disagreeing with the admin.

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Originally Posted by Alastor View Post
As for McChrystal, the more I read about it the more I suspect that he and some of his staff are in an early stage of burn out. Which would make his actions more excusable but in itself would be reason enough to replace him as field commander.
To quote a famous line "What we have here is a failure to communicate." People get burned out when they feel like they aren't accomplishing anything. Then to not feel as if you are being supported by your President that just compounds the issue. It's not just about troop levels and tactics. It's the lack of trying a strategy or an end game. McChrystal knows that once we leave things will simply go back to the way they were. Ten years of, for all appearances, occupation only to for things to go right back to the beginning. That's certainly enough reason to cause burn out. And he hadn't even been in command all that long!


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