Obama in dilemma over sacking McChrystal, Afghan war effort

Posted By: Staff
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Washington, June 23 (ANI): As US President Basrack Obama weighs whether to relieve his Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal over his inappropriate comments to the Rolling Stone magazine, he is also wrestling with the future of a war that he has taken on as his own.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, if Obama fires General McChrystal, he will be forced to consider revising his strategy, which relies on large numbers of U.S. troops and a far-reaching counterinsurgency effort to promote governance and development in Afghanistan.

The White House now has to decide whether stability at the top of the war effort outweighs the need to discipline a commander who twice has seemed to publicly challenge civilian oversight of the war.

Although some of Obama's closest advisors have warned that McChrystal's approach risked getting the U.S. bogged down in an unwinnable war, the president has shown no interest in revisiting the course he set last December.

With the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, continuing economic woes and congressional midterm elections looming in the fall, Obama is unlikely to want to take on reassessment of the war strategy so soon after choosing this course.

For that reason alone, McChrystal, the chief advocate of the administration strategy, may survive, despite the ignominy of being summoned to Washington for his comments to Rolling Stone magazine.

Firing McChrystal would also probably ignite a fierce debate in Congress, with some Republicans charging that Obama had sacrificed an effective wartime commander because of comments that, while intemperate, did not challenge the course set by civilians.

In December, Obama essentially sided with McChrystal, who recommended a troop buildup and a dedicated counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan. And he rebuffed, at least for the moment, Vice President Joe Biden and other advisors, who expressed skepticism about the strategy.

Obama set a July 2011 deadline for beginning a troop draw down in Afghanistan and promised to review the strategy in December - in effect giving McChrystal a year to show results.

McChrystal's approach already has been under fire, because stabilization efforts have proved less successful than expected in Helmand province and the general has extended an operation around the city of Kandahar because of delays in getting Afghan support.

Officials who back the current strategy say that firing McChrystal would set back that effort even further.

The most logical successor to McChrystal would be Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who is already in Afghanistan serving as McChrystal's deputy.

Replacing McChrystal with Rodriguez would signal continuity, rather than a shift in approach. Another name being mentioned as a possible successor was Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. He has command combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. (ANI)

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