New man in charge


Barack Obama on Wednesday made another change of command in the Afghan War.

Mr. Obama relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal due to a profile of the general appearing in the latest Rolling Stone magazine. It's hard to point to a specific direct statement by the general in that article that triggered the move, but the report captured an unmistakable tone of disrespect for his civilian superiors at the general's headquarters -- a belief that Mr. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the president's ambassadors to the region are a bunch of clowns more interested in appearances than in results.

As commander-in-chief of the military, Mr. Obama -- who Wednesday named popular Gen. David Petraeus to take over the command -- had every right to make the change. It could even be seen as politically necessary. Especially to the extent the charges may be true.

Mr. Obama spent an absurdly long time last year deciding to give Gen. McChrystal 30,000 additional troops for the Afghan campaign -- half of the 60,000 he requested. Mr. Obama, with his total lack of military or foreign policy experience, could hardly afford to be seen as weak or vacillating, again.

One does have to wonder, however, what he -- and the competent Gen. Petraeus -- hope to accomplish in the remaining year of this adventure.

Will Gen. Petraeus' soldiers, at the very least, now be freed from the concern that -- having been sent there to conduct a war against an irregular, plainclothes enemy -- they will still be brought up on charges of murder should they actually (gasp) shoot one of the thugs who spend their time planting roadside bombs and taking pot shots at our guys?

Probably not. Every G.I. will still be trailed by an eager JAG lawyer, anxious to charge the brute with violation of some "civilian's" civil rights. In the era of Mr. Obama, war is surely a new kind of hell.

Mr. Obama is at pains to appear decisive, but there's little evidence he really views the Taliban extremists or even al-Qaida as his visceral enemy. An Islamic Army officer shouts "Allah is great!" and opens fire, killing his own men at Fort Hood, Texas? Don't call it "Islamic terrorism," for heaven's sake -- no sense upsetting anyone down at the madrassa.

Mr. Obama found many more opportunities during his first year in office to meet with labor boss Andy Stern, head of the radical SEIU, than with Gen. McChrystal -- the man he placed in charge of a real shooting war. Gen. McChrystal was "out of sight, out of mind" until Rolling Stone paid him its fatal visit.

Will Gen. Petraeus now get at least a few days of Mr. Obama's undivided attention, as they work to figure out how to win a war that's costing scores of American lives every month?

Or is it vacation time at the White House?

Surf's up!

 

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