General George B. McClellan, fired by a previous President from Illinois.
Brits beware: Obama means business in Afghanistan
Posted By: Con Coughlin at May 12, 2009 telegraph
Con Coughlin opines about the firing of General David McKiernan as a warning to the Western Alliance. It is also a warning to the Republican party that Obama will not be seen as weak on defense. We live in interesting times.
The summary dismissal of General David McKiernan, the American commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, by American President Barack Obama will send shock waves throughout the entire Western alliance.
Gen McKiernan was removed from his post after Robert Gates, the U.S. Defence Secretary, concluded that American forces based in the country "can and must do better".
Mr Obama's decision to dismiss Gen McKiernan is a bold move, and suggests that the new American president is determined to make a success of the military campaign in Afghanistan.
If Iraq was President George W. Bush's war, Afghanistan is Obama's war, and the U.S. president is clearly determined that this military campaign does not suffer the same setbacks as American forces experienced in Iraq.
By the time next year's mid-term elections are held Mr Obama wants to be in a position to demonstrate that tangible progress is being made.
The timing of Gen McKiernan's removal is also significant, for a number of reasons. Mr Obama has already given his approval to a mini-surge strategy aimed at finally destroying the threat posed by the Taliban to Afghanistan's slow and painful transition to democratic government.
It will also send a warning to Downing Street, which has just refused to approve a request by British commanders to send extra combat troops to bolster the British force in Helmand province. Gordon Brown's failure to provide British commanders with the forces they need to do the job properly in Helmand means that they will now have to rely on the Americans to help them out, which will not exactly help to improve the transatlantic alliance.
There's no point Downing Street making a song and dance about being Washington's closest ally in the global campaign against Islamist terrorism if it does not deliver on its commitments, which now appears to be the case in Afghanistan.