Mr. Obama, standing with General Petraeus and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the White House Rose Garden to underline the continuity and solidity of his Afghan policy, said that he had regretfully accepted General McChrystal’s resignation.It's surely significant that Biden in particular is standing to the other side of Obama as Petraeus's appointment is announced.
He said he had done so not out of personal insult, but because a magazine article featuring contemptuous quotes from the general and his staff about senior administration officials had not met standards of behavior for a commanding general, and threatened to undermine civilian control of the military.
“War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president,” Mr. Obama said. “As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for national security.”
“I welcome debate among my team,” he said, “but I won’t tolerate division.”
Nothing on what this apparent step down for Petraeus means for the command structure. Ricks asks:
The only big question he left hanging in just what happens to Central Command. Will Petraeus try to have both commands? Will someone else take over? With Pakistan, Iran and other Middle Eastern issues bubbling out there, this is a question that needs to be addressed ASAP.... Via Sully, Thomas Barnette has a 10-point list on what Petraeus's appointment means:
Whatever the general wants, the general will get. After firing his Afghanistan commander twice in just thirteen months, Obama has no choice. Petraeus now outranks every administration player on Afghanistan. Save Obama — officially, at least. * * *As Sullivan summarizes, "Those of us who hoped for some kind of winding down of the longest war in US history will almost certainly be disappointed now."
If Petraeus says the strategy needs more time, then Obama's running for re-election as a wartime president. Period. There's just no way that Obama can overrule Petraeus on this one without wounding himself politically.