Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Opening?

Obama relieves McChrystal of his duties

The insubordination of General Stanley McChrystal may yet come to be seen as a key moment in the Afghanistan War and in Barack Obama's presidency, an opening in which critical changes were made. First, in accepting McChrystal's resignation, Obama sends a strong message of the need for unity of purpose, especially in a time of war. Then, in nominating General David Petraeus, Obama gains a military leader capable of bringing that unity about. Indeed, Petraeus is much better suited to lead a campaign that is as much a political effort as a military one. If anyone can deliver success in Afghanistan, it is probably Petraeus. It may even be that we come to look back on this as an opening for bipartisanship, when political leaders came to see the limits of partisan politics and began to repair the idea of a bipartisan foreign policy.

Of course, one might argue that this is nothing more than wishful thinking, but such cynicism overlooks the problematic nature of McChrystal's leadership team, the superiority of Petraeus, and the leadership of the President and political leaders from both parties. If nothing else, it is an opening.

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