With McChrystal Out, How War May Change

And how it won't

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Update (1:30 p.m.): President Obama has accepted the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, NBC News and Reuters confirm. He will be replaced by General David Petraeus, who as CENTCOM chief was McChrystal's superior.

Many pundits have predicted that President Obama will fire General McChrystal today over comments the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan made to Rolling Stone. This had led some writers to explore how the war in Afghanistan would change if McChrystal, in whose image the entire international Afghanistan strategy is crafted, leaves his command. Here are their predictions.

If you decide to fire Gen. McChrystal (but believe the current strategy is still the most appropriate strategy for Afghanistan):

Fire him, and replace him with LTG Dave Rodriguez, McChrystal's deputy. This is a simple "drop one" drill, it allows for the greatest continuity, and it allows you to proceed as planned with both operations this summer and this fall's strategic review.

If you decide to fire Gen. McChrystal (but decide you need a new strategy as well):

Fire him and name LTG Rodriguez the interim commander while you carry out another strategic review. Once you decide on your new strategy, name a commander best suited for carrying out that strategy. The shame here is that the U.S. general best qualified to carry out a lighter-footprint counter-terror strategy like the one described by Austin Long is ... Stan McChrystal.

  • War Strategy Won't Change  The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman writes, "if Obama has a chance to use the McChrystal controversy to overhaul his strategy, all signs indicate that he’s not interested." Ackerman predicts a "likely continuity of strategy in Afghanistan, no matter who's ultimately in command of the war effort."
  • 'Restart' in Relations with Karzai  The Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove calls this "a looming catastrophe" for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who would lose his closest U.S. ally.
“It’s just really bad—really, really bad,” media mogul Saad Mohseni, the head of Afghanistan’s biggest broadcast outlet, Moby Group, told me from Kabul. “I think it will be an extraordinary loss of opportunity for Afghanistan. He is very close to President Karzai, which no one else in Washington is. To see McChrystal go is to lose ground and have to restart the whole effort from scratch. He is very determined to get the job done, so it would be a big loss for the country.”
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