Thursday, June 24, 2010

Obama's choice of Petraeus a 'masterstroke' - CNN.com

Obama's choice of Petraeus a 'masterstroke' - CNN.com

CNN: What do you think of the president's decision?

Fareed Zakaria: This is a masterstroke. Petraeus needs no on-the-job training, knows the theater, and is beloved by the troops. He understands COIN [counter-insurgency strategy], literally wrote the book on it, and most important -- knows how to execute it. He has superb political skills and understands that a close working relationship with his civilian counterparts from the State Department, White House, and other agencies is not a bother but at the heart of the mission's success.

CNN: What was at stake in the controversy over Gen. McChrystal?

Zakaria: I think there is one issue which has really been focused on by the press, which is the insubordination of Gen. McChrystal and his lack of respect for the civilian chain of command in general and a few of the civilians in particular in this White House, including the vice president, the ambassador to Afghanistan, and that's an important issue but I think in most cases that was about personality clashes.
This is not like [Gen. Douglas] MacArthur, the historical analogy everyone makes. MacArthur basically publicly disagreed with Truman's policy and in order to assert the supremacy of his policy, President Truman decided to fire Gen. MacArthur. This is more a case of insubordination in terms of showing disrespect to civilian authority, which is serious but doesn't quite rise to that level.

The question I have, which in some ways is greater, is not whether Gen. McChrystal is guilty of insubordination but of incompetence.

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