The Hiller Instinct: McChrystal's resignation
It was foreshadowed when the general left the white house after meeting with the president before a meeting of the President's Afghanistan war team.
Logically, if McChrystal was going to survive, he would have been at that meeting.
"This is a change in personnel, not a change in policy," said President Obama.
And it's also a change in perception: Afghanistan is now President Obama's war, whether or not he wants it to be. Because today, we saw the President acting as only a Commander-in-Chief can, accepting the resignation of a four-star, commanding general, and reinforcing the rule that in the United States, civilians control the military.
So he's in charge.
"I'm also pleased to nominate General David Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan, which will allow us to maintain the momentum and leadership we need to succeed," said President Obama.
That's easier said than done.
General Petraeus is undoubtedly the best choice available -- the Senate should confirm him quickly -- but his selection will not erase the thrust of the points that cost McChrystal his command: that President Obama is not very engaged in the war effort and that there's much in-fighting among our political, military, and diplomatic leaders.
But, hopefully, we can all agree on this:
"The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general," said President Obama.
Now it's all about time, and time is not on the President's side.
He's facing a self-imposed time line for withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a key surge is set to start there soon, amid predictions it may not be well timed.
That's the opposite of what Obama needs, and only time will tell whether he can salvage the war--and perhaps his presidency--from the wreckage General McChrystal has left in his wake.
I'm Andy Hiller, and that's my instinct.
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