Was McKiernan's fate sealed in January?

I am enjoying putting up post after post on the firing of U.S. Gen. David McKiernan even though (because?) the lack of traffic on the comment boards below the posts suggests you folks are all, understandably, deep in Afghanistan fatigue. But now there’s this. On the first full day of the Obama presidency, Time‘s website ran this piece by the indefatigable Joe Klein, who pointed out an early, sharp rift between the White House and some military commanders over the proper size of a troop increase in Afghanistan. The Klein piece includes this killer quote:

Asked about the persistent reports from the Pentagon that up to 30,000 more troops are scheduled for Afghanistan, a senior Obama aide said, “No — repeat, no — decision has been made about troop levels in Afghanistan, and anyone at the Pentagon who says otherwise should be fired.” (italics mine — pw)

That’s pretty sharp talk on the first day of a new Presidency. But already last September, Gates was saying it was possible to have too many U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In the end, Obama and Gates sent 17,000 incremental troops to Afghanistan, instead of the 30,000 McKiernan had requested. That seems not to have settled the internal political conflict. It’s settled now.

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