Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

McChrystal and the War in Afghanistan

A rolling stone gathers no moss — or plaudits from the U.S.'s top brass. Rolling Stone's in-depth June profile of Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, quoted him deriding certain members of the Obama Administration; when asked about Vice President Joe Biden, McChrysal quipped, "Who's that?" The revelations proved too much and McChrystal opted to resign. The scandal was a blow to the Administration's strategy in Afghanistan — McChrystal, popular with both the troops and with Washington's partners in Kabul, had been reshaping the new counterinsurgency plans against the Taliban. And even though the ability of McChrystal's replacement, David Petraeus, the architect of the Iraq surge, was not in doubt, the instability accentuated larger concerns over the American war effort. How united was the civilian and military leadership in Washington, with one side desperate for an Afghan exit and the other desperate for more troops? In recent months, Obama administration officials have stepped away from the announced 2011 withdrawal of combat forces and shifted the focus to 2014, talking of a "transition" of responsibility to Afghan forces. But in the U.S.'s South Asian quagmire, good news is still thin on the ground.