News24

Obama will not tolerate division

2010-06-23 21:25

Washington - President Barack Obama warned on Wednesday he would not tolerate division in his administration over Afghanistan, after replacing General Stanley McChrystal over a stinging magazine interview.

Obama, in an address at the White House, said he had accepted the Afghan war commander's resignation with regret, but needed to ensure the integrity of civilian control over the military and a unified push to win the war.

"I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division," Obama said shortly after announcing the commander's resignation.

"As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security," Obama said, hours after holding a 31-minute meeting with the general at the White House.

"The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general", he said.

"It undermines the civilian control of the military that's at the core of our democratic system, and it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."

The commander-in-chief also stressed that he has "a responsibility to do whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan, and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda.

Worked closely

"I believe that this mission demands unity of effort across our alliance and across my national security team. And I don't think that we can sustain that unity of effort and achieve our objectives in Afghanistan without making this change."

Obama named General David Petraeus to replace McChrystal, saying the Iraq war hero "is setting an extraordinary example of service and patriotism by assuming this difficult post".

But the president also stressed that "this is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy.

"General Petraeus fully participated in our review last fall and he both supported and helped design the strategy that we have in place. And in his current post at (US) Central Command, he has worked closely with our forces in Afghanistan."

Reminding Americans that their nation is at war, Obama said US forces and their allies "are going to break the Taliban's momentum" and "relentlessly apply pressure on al-Qaeda" as Washington helps strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan to suppress the insurgency.