From a political and perhaps also from a substantive perspective, it strikes me that President Obama got very lucky when Gen. Stanley McChrystal self-destructed in the pages of Rolling Stone. By putting Gen. David Petraeus in charge, Obama has given himself cover no matter what happens in Afghanistan.
Petraeus is our most respected military leader. If he is able to make significant progress in transforming Afghanistan into a functioning state that does not provide a safe haven for terrorists, then that will be a signal success. And if he can’t, then we all may reasonably conclude that no one can. That’s oversimplification, but it’s also reality.
“What Petraeus brings to this war is discipline and an understanding of history. Both of these are needed right now in a moment where the U.S. effort is failing,” writes Charles Sennott, executive editor of GlobalPost.
Obama also got lucky in that he was handed an opportunity to show he understands how to administer a well-deserved public ass-kicking. “Didn’t expect Obama to put McChrystal through such an elaborate ritual humiliation,” journalist John McQuaid tweeted approvingly yesterday.
I agree. Like Josh Marshall, I feared that Obama would find some way to split the difference. Instead, the president reminded us all of what it means to have a military that answers to civilian leadership.
More: Jay Rosen trashes Politico to good effect.