Decisive, With An Exclamation Point
Just as I suspected, I would have told myself if this article had been written, and I had read it, a week ago. President Obama seemed intimidated by the Pentagon. Michael Hastings noted in Rolling Stone
The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass.
Gee, I guess, not anymore:
President Barack Obama fired his top Afghanistan commander on Wednesday over inflammatory comments that enraged the White House, and vowed not to let the military shakeup undermine the U.S. war effort.
In an extraordinary turn of events, Obama called General Stanley McChrystal on the carpet at the White House, relieved him of command and replaced him with his boss, General David Petraeus, architect of the Iraq war turnaround.
Obama had summoned McChrystal from Afghanistan to answer for remarks he and his aides made in an explosive Rolling Stone magazine article that disparaged the president and other civilian leaders.
"The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden as he announced McChrystal's dismissal.
Periodically, politicians and media figures blithely identify the President of the United States as "commander in chief." Ironically, rarely (from what I could tell) was that term used today, although this was a situation to which Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution applies:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States....
General McChrystal deserved to be fired; or, as in this case, to have his resignation accepted. And President Obama needed to reassert the principle of civilian control over the military.
Replacing McChrystal with General David Petraeus, although an obviously wise option strategically and politically, was a stroke of genius. Unexpected by the media, it nearly removes the threat Petraeus posed as a possible candidate for the Republican nomination to oppose Obama in 2012. If the war in Afghanistan continues to go badly, it will be tough for Petraeus to mount a serious campaign, especially with the blemish on what is now his extraordinary public image; if the war effort turns around and Petraeus is nominated by the GOP, he will be running against the President who presided over the war. Besides, Petraeus is the individual given greatest credit for what is perceived as renewed success in Iraq- and Afghanistan now is the most important theatre in American foreign policy.
President Obama does not always convey an image of strength. Today, June 23, 2010, however, he became President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, enjoying one of his best days since January 23, 2009.
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