It was a major test of leadership for President Obama – and he passed it with flying colors.
There were those, starting with the Wall Street Journal, who urged the president to turn the other cheek. Remember: we’re at war, they said. You can’t change generals in the middle of a war.
And, I admit, I was worried Obama, who’s not a vengeful man, might fall for that line of thinking.
But he rose brilliantly to the occasion, instead, and fired General McChrystal precisely because we are in the middle of a war – and you can’t win a war without military discipline, starting at the top.
So now a new man’s in charge. That’s the good news.
But the same old policy’s in place. That’s the bad news.
There’s no evidence that the surge is working in Afghanistan – and plenty of evidence it’s not.
The big offensive in Marja, supposed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the surge, is still dragging on, five months later. The long-awaited offensive in Kandahar has been delayed indefinitely. And Hamid Karzai shows no signs of cleaning up his act.
Bottom line: In David Petraeus, President Obama has the right man in Afghanistan. Now he must give him the right mission.
Not: figure out how to win in Afghanistan. But figure out how to get the hell out of there.
That’s my parting shot for today. I’m Bill Press.