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Petraeus Takes Charge

This report is promising:

[A]t least one senior White House official suggested using General McChrystal’s exit as an excuse for a housecleaning, according to senior officials. That was rejected as too disruptive during a military campaign that relies heavily on civilian support, these people said.

In recent days, other administration officials have begun floating the idea that Ambassador Eikenberry might be replaced by Ryan C. Crocker, the highly regarded former ambassador in Iraq who forged a close partnership with General Petraeus during the successful Iraq troop increase. Such a prospect is viewed as remote, given Mr. Crocker’s prestigious new post at Texas A&M University.

The problem, of course, is not merely that Holbrooke and Eikenberry have not gotten along with their own military leader — it’s that they’ve failed to do their core function, namely build a productive relationship with Hamid Karzai. It’s not surprising, then, but quite telling that the report reveals the degree to which Petraeus is now calling the shots:

General Petraeus is indisputably the key player, and he has wasted no time asserting his control. On a secure videoconference call last Saturday, a person familiar with the call said, General Petraeus threw his support behind a costly, and controversial, plan to install temporary generators to supply more electricity to Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold that is the next major American military target. Mr. Holbrooke and Ambassador Eikenberry swiftly assented.

It is at least a step in the right direction if Eikenberry and Holbrooke cease being impediments to progress. Now we just need civilian leaders who can contribute to success.



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