Max Boot: Obama Shone in McChrystal Affair

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Max Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is writing a history of guerrilla warfare and terrorism.]

"Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own." So said Charles de Gaulle, who knew a thing or two about handling crises.

We have just been through a crisis triggered by an article in Rolling Stone that led to a change of command in Afghanistan. And what the crisis reveals about the character of the three principals — President Obama, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus — has been largely positive to a degree I would not have expected when this blow-up occurred....

He did not allow the Rolling Stone flap to become a drawn-out drama as he did with the review of Afghanistan policy in the fall. He decided that McChrystal had to go, and within a day he was out. Obama was especially shrewd to replace him with Petraeus, the best general we have, thus ensuring minimal disruption in operations. This was an unorthodox move, and Obama gets credit for making it....

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