Was Petraeus the Right Choice?

The Central Command chief takes over for McChrystal

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General David Petraeus will take over for General Stanley McChrystal as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Petraeus is stepping down from his role as the chief of Central Command, where he oversaw all U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Is he the right man for the job?

  • Republicans Thrilled With Petraeus The Wall Street Journal's Susan Davis writes, "In tapping Gen. David Petraeus to take over for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, President Barack Obama may have made a smart tactical move that will shield his nominee from any pushback from congressional Republicans because they like Petraeus. They really, really like him."
  • Shows We Won't Reevaluate Failing Strategy The American Prospect's Adam Serwer sighs, "those on the right concerned with strategic continuity can breathe easy. ... Liberals were hoping that McChrystal's departure would offer an opportunity for the administration to rethink a strategy which some suspect was adopted largely due to political pressure to continue the mission. ... The appointment of General Petraeus is likely to squelch any such discussion before it gets started."
  • The Right Choice Commentary's Max Boot cheers, "If there is one general who can step quickly into the top job in Afghanistan, it is Petraeus, who has been closely involved in formulating the campaign plan along with McChrystal. And if there is one general who knows how to handle the media and the political process (skills that McChrystal obviously lacked), it is Petraeus. ... The president has made a good start by putting our very best general into Kabul."
  • Who Will Step in if Iraq Unravels? Foreign Policy's Tom Ricks worries, "for the second time in three years, Gen. David Petraeus is bailing out a president. ... My second big concern is what happens to Iraq now. As readers of this blog know, I am very worried about trends there. If Iraq begins to fall apart, and Petraeus is busy in Kabul, who is going to step on?" As CENTCOM chief, Petraeus oversaw Iraq, but will no longer.
  • Iraq Record Proves He's Right Choice National Review's Victor Davis Hanson approves of "the wise Petraeus move." He writes, "we can see that one of the reasons the [Iraq] surge worked was a particular tone established at the top by General Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker, the latter also a much underestimated figure, whose professionalism and competence will increasingly be appreciated, especially in contrast to the current diplomatic team in Afghanistan."
  • How It Could Change Strategy Paul McLeary explains, "What this means for strategy for the war in Afghanistan is still up for debate. While Petraeus, as CENTCOM chief, is on board with the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, he has also said recently that he believes that the July, 2011 transition date to greater Afghan military control of the fight is 'conditions based.' One can also read Petraeus' nomination for ISAF lead as a repudiation of vice president Biden's desire for a more narrowly focused counterterrorism approach, and an acceptance of the Petraeus/McChrystal counterinsurgency approach to waging the war."
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