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How a General was sacked

By the time he woke up Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama had made up his mind.

world Updated: Jun 24, 2010 23:30 IST
Mark Landler
Mark Landler

By the time he woke up Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama had made up his mind.

During the 36 frenetic hours since he had been handed an article from the coming issue of Rolling Stone ominously headlined “The Runaway General,” the president weighed the consequences of cashiering General Stanley A. McChrystal, whose contemptuous comments about senior officials had ignited a firestorm.

Obama, aides say, consulted with advisers — some, like Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates, who warned of the dangers of replacing General McChrystal, others, like his political advisers, who thought he had to go. He reached out for advice to a soldier-statesman, Colin L. Powell. He identified a possible successor to lead the war in Afghanistan.

And then, finally, the president ended General McChrystal’s command in a meeting that lasted only 20 minutes. According to one aide, the general apologised, offered his resignation and did not lobby for his job. After a seesaw debate among White House officials, “there was a basic meeting of the minds,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and a major player in the deliberations. “This was not good for the mission, the military and morale,” Emanuel said.

Obama has forced out officials before, including the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair; the White House counsel, Gregory Craig; even General McChrystal’s predecessor, Gen. David D. McKiernan. But this is the highest profile sacking of his presidency.

The New York Times

First Published: Jun 24, 2010 23:24 IST