In the Arena

News from the War Zones

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You remember Afghanistan. The Washington Post has the weird news today that Gen. David Rodriguez–our most knowledgeable officer about Afghan customs and politics in theater–will be coming home this fall when David Petraeus steps aside as commander of the international forces. Rodriguez is said to be a “poor salesman”–that is, not ready for Congressional committees and media primetime. Do I really need to say that this is pathetic? Lt. Gen. John Allen, who is the front-runner to replace Petraeus, is an excellent officer, by all accounts–but can we really afford to lose Rodriguez’s institutional memory at the moment when we’re trying to wind this thing down? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile, David Ignatius sees the incoherence of Obama foreign policy. Our emphasis really should be on helping Egypt through its transition to democracy. This is huge, and also doable, I believe. It will have positive spillover effects throughout the region. Since it doesn’t involve bombing anything, the silence of cable television (as well as politicians like John McCain and the neoconservatives) on this front has been deafening. But history will see this as the most significant foreign policy test facing the President right now.