(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama said today that he accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan not “out of any sense of personal insult” but because the general’s conduct as reported in an article in Rolling Stone worked to undermine civilian control of the military.
“I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with Gen. McChrystal, as we are in full agreement about our strategy,” Obama said in a statement delivered in the Rose Garden this afternoon. “Nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult. Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully.”
Obama said he took McChrystal’s resignation in order to protect the American constitutional tradition of civilian control of the military. Rolling Stone magazine posted an article yesterday that cited unnamed aides to Gen. McChrystal making critical remarks about the president and other senior administration officials. Gen. McChrystal himself was not quoted in the magazine article making statements about the president, although the article did report that McChrystal voted for Obama for president. (The magazine did not indicate how it knew McChrystal voted this way.)
“But war is bigger than any one man or woman--whether a private, a general or a president--and as difficult as it is to lose Gen. McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security,” said Obama. “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.”
Obama said he needed to remove McChrystal in order to hold his administration accountable to the nation’s democratic standards.
“It is also true that our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals,” said Obama. “That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command and respect for civilian control over that chain of command, and that’s why as commander in chief I believe this decision is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to standards that are at the core of our democracy.”
Obama is assigning Gen. David Petraeus to replace McChrystal as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, the architect of the successfully surge strategy in Iraq, is currently head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees the war in Afghanistan.
“This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy,” said Obama. “General Petraeus fully participated in our review last fall. And he both supported and helped design the strategy that we have in place. In his current post at Central Command he has worked closely with our forces in Afghanistan. He has worked closely with Congress. He has worked closely with the Afghan and Pakistan governments, and with all our partners in the region. He has my full confidence and I am urging the Senate to confirm him for this new assignment as swiftly as possible.”