McChrystal’s Replacement in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note:  In an interview published in DER SPIEGEL, Bruce Riedel discusses the President Obama’s war dilemma. With troops now under the command of General David Petraeus, Riedel explains why it will be harder than Obama had hoped to withdraw U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan starting July 2011.

SPIEGEL: What was your initial reaction when you read the Rolling Stone article about General Stanley McChrystal, in which he and his colleagues deride leading members of the American administration?

Riedel: I was stunned. The common word is that it showed poor judgment. I think it borders on sheer stupidity. I found it shocking that a military commander would either use that kind of language or allow that kind of language to be used about his commander in chief and command by his aides, in his presence.

SPIEGEL: Do you think that McChrystal was so disillusioned with the progress of the mission in Afghanistan that he did this deliberately, because he wanted a fast way out?

Riedel: I think there are more graceful ways to offer your resignation. McChrystal has made a fool of himself. It’s very tragic in many ways.

SPIEGEL: President Obama has been open about the fact that one of his main concerns was the impact the article would have on allies like the French — especially when they read the opening paragraph of the Rolling Stone story.

Riedel: General David Petraeus has been chosen for a number of reasons. He is a remarkably diplomatic general who knows how to work with (the United States’) allies. Sending him sends a message of reassurance to the allies, to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and to the Pakistanis that there is a change in personality but not a change in strategy.

Read the full interview at »