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Podcast: Doyle McManus discusses Gen. McChrystal's resignation

GeneralDoyle McManus, Washington columnist for The Times' Op-Ed page, shared his analysis Wednesday on the resignation of Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. Click here to listen to the podcast.

The audio clip is divided roughly into four parts, the first of which contains excerpts of President Obama's remarks Wednesday morning. In the second part, McManus weighs the issues Obama faced in making the decision to accept McChrystal's resignation. McManus says, "In the end, keeping Gen. McChrystal posed even bigger problems. The bond of confidence between the civilian officials in the White House and the military officials in the field had already been strained several times."

McManus then discusses Gen. David H. Petraeus, the president's choice as McChrystal's replacement in Afghanistan, calling Petraeus an "out-of-the-box choice." McManus says, "In an ironic sense, President Obama is taking a move from George W. Bush's playbook in this choice."

The podcast closes with McManus' analysis of what McChrystal's exit means for Afghanistan. McManus says, "In Afghanistan, there is likely to be considerable consternation about the idea that a magazine article could bring down a respected and powerful general."

A complete transcript of McManus' analysis will be posted later Wednesday.

Update, 2:05 p.m.: A complete transcript of McManus' remarks is posted after the jump.

Photo credit: Michael Reynolds / EPA

This was a difficult choice for President Obama. Getting rid of Stan McChrystal as his commander in Afghanistan meant finding a replacement and getting that replacement into Kabul at a very sensitive time in the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan.

But in the end, keeping Gen. McChrystal posed even bigger problems. The bond of confidence between the civilian officials in the White House and the military officials in the field had already been strained several times in a number of difference incidents. There had been all along some concern on the part of civilian officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, that the military might be over-selling the chances of success in its war in Afghanistan.

So it was vitally important -- still is vitally important -- that there be a high level of confidence in the working relationship between civilian officials and military officials. And military officials agree with that; in fact they've been working quite hard on it. And the problem was, after these statements it was very difficult to imagine that Gen. McChrystal could rebuild the confidence that he had helped shatter.

Gen. Petraeus is what you'd call an out-of-the-box choice, because he had already moved on to a higher job as commander of the Central Command. And in an ironic sense, President Obama is taking a move from George W. Bush's playbook in this choice. Gen. Petraeus, of course, was Bush's commander in Iraq, the designer of the surge that helped turn that war around and stabilize it.

But it's an imitation of Bush in more ways than just that. Gen. Petraeus was and is very gifted at bridging the gap between military officers and civilian officials; that was one of the qualities he brought to his command in Iraq. When he was in Baghdad, he and the United States ambassador, Ryan Crocker, worked as a team. That is something that Gen. McChrystal has not been able to do with our ambassador in Kabul, Gen. Eikenberry.

And the second talent that Gen. Petraeus has is he is a very gifted explainer and promoter of a policy, or a strategy, to Congress and the public. George W. Bush relied on Petraeus almost single-handed to sell the surge back in 2005, 2006, when that policy was adopted. And so I think what we are seeing here is Barack Obama, in an unexpected way, taking a lesson from his predecessor, George W. Bush.

In Afghanistan, there is likely to be considerable consternation about the idea that a magazine article could bring down a respected and powerful general. On the part of President Karzai in Afghanistan, there is likely to be some concern in that his working relationship with Gen. McChrystal was probably the only functioning working relationship that President Karzai has with any United States official.

But the Afghans are likely to be, in a sense, flattered that Obama has chosen a superior officer, the man who was, until now, Gen. McChrystal's boss, to be the commander of that campaign. And Gen. Petraeus has, of course, spent time with President Karzai in Afghanistan; he's also spent a great deal of time with military officials in neighboring Pakistan. So from that standpoint, the choice of Petraeus is about the best that could be imagined.

 

Comments () | Archives (9)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Bo Frier

With greater and greater frequency Pres. Obama takes actions or makes statements that render me fearful for the continued well being of our country. Today, with the acceptance of the FORCED resignation of Gen. McChrystal, Obama has reached a new low for putting himself above a man who graduated from West Point, devoted his adult life to the service of our country; putting his life on the line more times than will ever be told, and has exhibited the abilities and perservence which have allowed him to EARN the four star rank of a command general. Mr. Obama has never accomplished anything remotely comparable to the accomplishments of Gen. McChrystal. We have lost the services of a man that I highly admire to the whim of a man who was able (in 11/08) to delude a majority of voters to place him in the position of president of the U. S. Mr. Obama has taken an action which will likely contribute to his being (like the inept Jimmy Carter) a one-term president. The one good thing about it is that he has put another nail in his coffin regarding the 2012 presidential election. Unfortunately for our country, we have more than two more years that we have to be ill-served by Mr. Obama. There have been so many disturbing events since Obama took the office of the Presidency in 01/09; however, I cannot think of another instance where a true hero (Gen McChrystal) of our armed forces has been so shabbily treated by a man (Obama) who has never, and will never, make contributions to the well being of our county comparable to those made by Gen. McChrystal.

EJ Vega

I could not say this better: "With greater and greater frequency Pres. Obama takes actions or makes statements that render me fearful for the continued well being of our country. Today, with the acceptance of the FORCED resignation of Gen. McChrystal, Obama has reached a new low for putting himself above a man who graduated from West Point, devoted his adult life to the service of our country; putting his life on the line more times than will ever be told, and has exhibited the abilities and perservence which have allowed him to EARN the four star rank of a command general. Mr. Obama has never accomplished anything remotely comparable to the accomplishments of Gen. McChrystal. We have lost the services of a man that I highly admire to the whim of a man who was able (in 11/08) to delude a majority of voters to place him in the position of president of the U. S. Mr. Obama has taken an action which will likely contribute to his being (like the inept Jimmy Carter) a one-term president. The one good thing about it is that he has put another nail in his coffin regarding the 2012 presidential election. Unfortunately for our country, we have more than two more years that we have to be ill-served by Mr. Obama. There have been so many disturbing events since Obama took the office of the Presidency in 01/09; however, I cannot think of another instance where a true hero (Gen McChrystal) of our armed forces has been so shabbily treated by a man (Obama) who has never, and will never, make contributions to the well being of our county comparable to those made by Gen. McChrystal." - Bo Frier

a retired county employee

General McChristal had a choice-either accept the retirement or be court marshalled and do jail time. It is called the Military code of Justice and every WestPoint Cadet or Officer in OCS Training learns this fact. McChrystal wanted to go home. Otherwise he would not have opened his mouth. Obama is the commander in Chief-simple as that. Mr Obama has as much education or more so in the law as General McCrystal. Perhaps General McCrystal needs to go to Harvard with his GI Bill and see if he can make it there. McChrystal was given a free education, and what did he do? Screw it up with this interview in Rolling Stones.

quatidion

These democrats are so dysfunctionally incompetent, they are reduced to hiding behind the back of the guy they trashed in the 2008 elections. It's only been a little over a year that they were calling him, 'Betray Us'.

How's the Hopey-Changey thing working for you now?

Killing the messenger, by firing McChrystal didn't obscure the fact that the civilian political arm, put in place by this administration, is incompetent.

Would that they would fire that civilian team as fast as they fired the military team.

They are incompetent to run the war.

mohammed suerte bennani

General McChrystal did not agree with President’s policy in Afghanistan this last weeks, because of logistics and/or strategy options.
In the U.S Constitution, the President is the Chief of Army.
Mc Chrystal is a soldier, and as so, he obey orders.
He did not agree with the policy involved in Afghanistan, and as a man of honor, he has no choice, but to quit the commandment
He can not resign at this point - not a military word – so he did a slip-up - a controlled one - using the medias
President Obama accepted this opportunity and the General was relieved of command.
But this didn't mean a change in U.S. policy…sure
(An other sheet written August, 2009 - http://bit.ly/1zp48I )
mohammed suerte bennani - surgeon and author -
casablanca - north africa -
www(dot)suertebennani(dot)com

Dave

@you traitors to the constitution,

You are giving aid and comfort to the enemy by supporting an insubordinate General over the duly elected President of the United States of America.

I have no doubts about your sincerity, but you have all seriously lost your perspective. Wake up and remember that while you don't agree with Obama's POLICIES that does not make him "incompetent" or "unaccomplished". And yes, he IS above General McChrystal. Both in rank AND in accomplishments. Read your Constitution.

You're sad.

johnny nettles

GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA. I THINK IT WAS A POLITICAL DISCISION BECAUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA DIDN'T WANT THE NEGITIVE FEEDBACK FROM THE REPLUBICANS. IF IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ME GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL WOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED, WITHOUT BENEFITS, FOR SHOOTING HIS MOUTH OFF ABOUT THE ENTIRE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL LOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS AND YOUR SHIP WOULD AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN, YOU ARE NOT TH ER BUT THE EE. DID THE REPLUBICAN PROMISE YOU SOMETHING FOR MAKING THOSE NEGITIVE COMMENTS WITH ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE.

nemo

LOL. Ironic. McChrystal never said ANYTHING against Obama or his policies. Only his aides did, reflecting what the troops believed. Truth hurts, huh?

So McChrystal was fired because he was responsible for everything his soldiers did or failed to do.

If we used that same standard on the civilian leadership, they should resign too.

They are as incompetent as this president is. Obama and these democrats are EPIC FAIL.

Nancy

General McChrystal should have been fired by Obama. Too bad he resigned before that happened. But he seems to have gotten out at the right time with the rules for engagement making this action now unwinnable. You cannot fight an action like this without being able to even protect your own soldiers. Bad for morale is only part of it. With our own soldiers having to prognosticate what their actions will do to their careers befors acting only supplants fear of acting at all.


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