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Obama sacks Stanley McChrystal

BBC News
23rd June 2010

The top US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, has been dismissed by President Barack Obama after critical comments about senior US officials in a magazine.

He will be replaced by Gen David Petraeus, who led the “surge” strategy in Iraq.

Mr Obama insisted it was “a change in personnel but not a change in policy”.

Gen McChrystal said in a statement he had resigned out of a “desire to see the mission succeed”.

The announcement that Gen McChrystal was standing down came after he had met Mr Obama at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the content of the Rolling Stone magazine article.

Mr Obama said he had made the decision to replace Gen McChrystal “with considerable regret” but added that he had failed to “meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general”.

“I believe it is the right decision for our national security,” Mr Obama said.

“I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal… nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult.”

He said that the general’s conduct “undermines the civilian control of the military that’s at the core of our democratic system”.

‘Sincerest apology’

Gen McChrystal said in his statement: “I strongly support the president’s strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people.

It was out of respect for this commitment – and a desire to see the mission succeed – that I tendered my resignation.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had indicated he did not want Gen McChrystal replaced, describing him as the best commander in nine years of US military operations in Afghanistan.

Speaking after the announcement, a spokesman for Mr Karzai said: “General McChrystal was an important and trusted partner for the Afghan government and Afghan people and we hoped this wouldn’t happen. However, this is an internal matter for the US government and we respect the decision of President Obama.

“We are looking forward to working with General Petraeus, a very experienced soldier, who President Karzai knows well.”

The secretary general of Nato said the Western military alliance’s Afghan war strategy remained unchanged after Gen McChrystal’s replacement.

Gen McChrystal had quickly apologised for the magazine article, The Runaway General, written by freelance journalist Michael Hastings, extending his “sincerest apology” and saying it showed a lack of integrity.

“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgement and should never have happened,” he said.

The wide-ranging article quoted Gen McChrystal and his aides openly criticising senior members of the Obama administration.

The officials included:

  • Joe Biden. Gen McChrystal had mocked the vice-president when asked a question about him. “Are you asking about Vice-President Biden? Who’s that?”
  • Karl Eikenberry. Gen McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” by the US ambassador to Kabul during the long 2009 White House debate on troop requests for Afghanistan
  • James Jones. One of Gen McChrystal’s aides says the national security adviser is a “clown… stuck in 1985”
  • Richard Holbrooke. Gen McChrystal says of an e-mail from the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan: “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke… I don’t even want to open it.”

The article also appeared to be critical of the president himself.

Referring to a key Oval Office meeting with Mr Obama a year ago, an aide of Gen McChrystal says it was “a 10-minute photo-op”.

“Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was… he didn’t seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed,” the aide says.

Duncan Boothby, a special assistant to Gen McChrystal who organised the Rolling Stone journalist’s access to the commander, has also resigned as a result of the article.

View the original article at BBC News

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