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Report: McChrystal Taken Off Duty

MSNBC has it. The President has “relieved Gen. McChrystal of his command.” We should have a statement from the President within a few minutes, at 1:30pm ET. The key to that statement will be anything about the actual strategy for Afghanistan going forward. Policies, not personalities.

More in a moment…

…some are reporting that David Petraeus will slide into the McChrystal role…

…It does look like David Petraeus will replace Stanley McChrystal. Important to look back at Petraeus’ testimony just last week in Congress, where he refused to commit to the July 2011 “inflection point” for a transition to withdrawal and vowed to fight for more troops if necessary.

At a Senate hearing, he affirmed the inflection point, while stating that the rate of withdrawal would be determined by “conditions on the ground.” He told Sen. Ted Kaufman that “July 2011 is etched in stone.” However, at a House meeting, Petraeus stated that lacking those conditions would lead to him endorsing a delay:

During a House hearing Wednesday, California Republican Rep. Buck McKeon asked Petraeus what conditions would have to be in place for troops to leave.
Petraeus said there would have to be better security and governance, and an Afghan security force able to contribute to that stability.

Asked what happens if those conditions don’t exist, Petraeus said he would recommend a delay in the withdrawal.

“If that’s what’s necessary, that’s what I will do,” he said.

This sounds like the same policy with a reset of the commander. The Very Serious foreign policy establishment will probably start saying how this is Day One of the new Afghanistan war, nine years in. And with media darling Petraeus at the helm.

…Obama is speaking now, confirms that he relieved McChrystal of command and nominating Petraeus. “I don’t make this decision out of any difference in policy with Gen. McChrystal.” That’s all you need to know. Obama said that he accepted McChrystal’s resignation, incidentally, said his behavior was unbefitting of a commander. He added that McChrystal’s comments “undermine the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.”

We’re seeing some accountability, but not for the policy.

…Obama: “This is a change in personnel, but this is not a change in policy.” Adds that Petraeus helped design it.

…Someone yells out as Obama concludes his remarks, “Mr. President, can this war be won?”

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David Dayen

David Dayen