Open thread: Obama announcement on McChrystal’s status; Update: AP says he’s gone, Petraeus back to the front; Update: Fox confirms; Update: “Considerable regret” over McChrystal resignation, Obama says
posted at 1:19 pm on June 23, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama will speak at 1:30 ET in the White House Rose Garden to make a statement on the status of General Stanley McChrystal:
His job in grave jeopardy, Afghanistan war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal made his case to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, contrite over his blistering remarks about administration officials.
Obama huddled with his war advisers before telling the nation of the embattled general’s fate. He planned a 1:30 p.m. EDT statement in the Rose Garden about the controversy.
With Washington abuzz, there was an almost complete White House lockdown on information about the day’s developments and the president’s thinking. It wasn’t even known where McChrystal went after leaving the West Wing from his nearly half-hour showdown with Obama.
Normally, I’d say a scheduled appearance would mean McChrystal’s out, but this has become so volatile that either decision would probably require an explanation from Obama. We’ll open up the thread and wait to see what happens.
Update: Megyn Kelly on Fox repeats an AP update that Obama will relieve McChrystal of his command. No link yet, still looking. They also report that David Petraeus will take his place.
Update II: From the previous link:
A source tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama will name Gen. David Petraeus to succeed Gen. Stanley McChrystal as top war commander in Afghanistan.
Given the controversy that surrounded McChrystal before this week started, this may not be bad news.
Update III: Major Garrett confirms from a “very senior administration official” that McChrystal’s out, and Petraeus is in.
Update IV: Smart move, say former Bush administration officials:
“After this I don’t see how he could have stayed on, frankly,” Eric Edelman, the number three official at the Pentagon from 2005 to 2009, told The Daily Caller.
“This is a real tragedy because Stan McChrystal is an incredibly capable officer who is a real hero in my book for what he did in Iraq and Afghanistan as the [Joint Special Operations Command] commander,” Edelman said. “He’s one of the more capable officers I knew during my time at the Pentagon.”
But Edelman, whose title was undersecretary of defense for policy, said that the Rolling Stone article that exploded into the news cycle Tuesday morning “suggests that a command climate had been created that allowed people around the general, without him correcting them, to say in front of — I’m sorry to say — a journalist things that were disrespectful of a civilian chain of command.”
“And whatever they might think, that’s not something they’re supposed to do,” he said.
“Suggesting that the president of the United States is intimidated by his military officers, that he wasn’t ready to be the commander, the suggestions that come directly from Stan in the article are that he was measuring the president and found him wanting,” Edelman said. “That may not be wrong. But it’s intolerable for a military commander who serves ultimately at the pleasure of the president and commander of chief … to let that become part of the public record.”
I suspect that Edelman and his colleagues would approve of Petraeus as the replacement, too.
Update VI: Obama insists that he didn’t make the change over a sense of personal insult, and says that McChrystal earned a reputation of being “one of America’s finest soldiers.” The war is bigger than any one man, including “a President,” but the commentary in the Rolling Stone article doesn’t meet the expectations of professional conduct and it “erodes the trust” necessary to prosecute and win the war.
Update VII: The standard of strict respect for civilian control of the military is critical for democracy and for success in the war theater, Obama insists.
Update VIII: ” I welcome debate among my team, but will not tolerate division.” Well, perhaps Obama should have acted earlier with other members of his team in order to avoid this.
Update IX: Petraeus is setting an extraordinary example of patriotism and sacrifice by accepting this command, Obama insists. Very true.
Update X: A short statement, but effective and as gracious as it could be under the circumstances. Obama appears to have split the baby rather adeptly here, softening the blow of losing McChrystal by arguably trading up for the legendary Petraeus. That should dampen criticism over cashiering McChrystal, especially among Republicans on Capitol Hill.