The commander-in-chief took charge yesterday, relieving Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his command in Afghanistan, a necessary reminder that the president determines the nation's war strategy and the military executes it.
Next, President Barack Obama faces the more difficult task of getting his national security team - the same ones McChrystal showed disdain for in the Rolling Stone article - to agree on a clear strategy to stop the Taliban and establish a functioning Afghan government. And then he has to sell that strategy to a public increasingly skeptical about success there.
McChrystal had made missteps before, showing an arrogance and disregard for the political process. He once openly criticized Vice President Joseph Biden, who disagreed with his surge strategy and wanted to limit military action to al-Qaida targets.
The latest reckless remarks revealed a disunity on the war effort that made him no longer fit to lead the 94,000 men and women involved in this dangerous mission. One of the most significant exchanges in the magazine article shows that McChrystal hasn't convinced the troops that his emphasis on minimizing civilian casualties doesn't greatly increase their own risk.
Obama replaced him with Gen. David Petraeus, McChrystal's superior and a major architect of that strategy. Petraeus knows more about the war and Hamid Karzai, the nation's incorrigible president, than any other military leader. And, presumably, he knows how to follow orders. hN