There are many implications to top Afghanistan General McChrystal's leaked report
telling President Obama he needs a massive troop increase or risks failure, but
perhaps the most immediate is the possibility of a rift between the
White House and military. Military experts disagree over whether the
report indicates an already-deep rift, or is an example of typical back-and-forth, but all agree that this report and how Obama responds
could have serious implications for civil-military relations in
Afghanistan and beyond.
- A 'Defining Moment' Peter Feaver predicted
this would become "the defining moment in civil-military relations
under President Obama's watch." Feaver said the leak demonstrates
civil-military tensions have bubbled into the public sphere, but
criticized both the leaker and its target, Obama. "You cannot swing a
dead cat in Washington without meeting someone who
was briefed on at least part of the McChrystal assessment, and
virtually every one of those folks is mystified as to why the White
House has not responded as of yet," Feaver wrote. "The White House will
have to respond
now, but I stand by my first point: leaks like this make it harder to
for the Commander-in-Chief to do deliberate national security planning."
- Tension Fears Are Over-hyped Marc Lynch downplayed drama surrounding the report. "It would be a shame if this turns into an 'Obama vs the Generals'
narrative, as some clearly hope," Lynch wrote. "While we're all on edge over this
important policy decision, it seems to me that Obama's doing what he's
supposed to do: asking the big questions about strategy and the wider
set of American interests and resource commitments, while taking into
account the predictable requests for more resources from the field
commander. And McChrystal is doing what he's supposed to do: carefully
assess the assignment he's been given and ask for the resources he
thinks he needs to do the job."
- Could McChrystal Resign? Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall warned
that ignoring McChrystal's requests could have disastrous political
implications. "[McChrystal's] view is in line with that of Admiral Mike
chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who has repeatedly warned of an
urgent need to address a 'deteriorating' situation. If Obama turns
refuses to heed such strongly stated advice, one or both men feel
obliged to resign," Tisall wrote. "It would inevitably raise
questions about his fitness as commander-in-chief and might exacerbate
other White House-Pentagon tensions, such as those over Obama's plan to
slash the US nuclear stockpile."
- Resignation Talk Premature but Telling Michael Crowley cited a report by Nancy Youssef that McChrystal could resign, but he was skeptical. "Talk like this sounds awfully premature; even if Obama holds back on
the troops, I'd be astonished to see McChrystal actually leave," Crowley wrote. "But the
fact that presumably credible military men--Youssef is a solid reporter
with good sources--are talking this way is awfully revealing."
- Conflict Will Get Worse Rich Lowry predicted escalating tension over the coming weeks. "The military thinks the White House might want to throw McChrystal
under the bus; the White House thinks the military is pushing Obama too
hard on troop levels," he wrote. "The next few weeks will be a fraught period for
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