President Obama’s decision to sack General Stanley McChrystal is likely to be viewed with dismay by the US’ s main allies in Nato. Several senior Nato diplomats in Brussels were making clear throughout Wednesday that they did not wish to see the General dismissed, warning it would add to uncertainty over the course of the mission.
“McChrystal gets on well with all the Nato countries in the mission and he’s well respected in the Nato secretariat,” said one senior diplomat on Wednesday. “The strong view in Brussels is that McChrystal has made a misjudgment by giving this interview.. But it’s a magazine article and that’s all. We can’t have a situation in which internal differences in the US administration start disrupting the wider mission in this way.”
General McChrystal’s dismissal will also be viewed badly by western diplomats who believe he had begun to strike up a strong relationship with President Hamid Karzai who himself made clear yesterday that he did not wish to see the Genera dismissed.
“If you ask yourself what the biggest task is facing the alliance this summer it is to get Karzai to put his own people into places in Helmand and Kandahar where they can run civil administrations” said one diplomat from a Nato state. This diplomat argued that the departure of General McChrysta woud undermine the ability to put pressure on President Karzai.
The fear at Nato is that the sacking of Genera McChrystal will have an adverse effect on an alliance that is already seeing two key members - the Nether lands and Canada - leaving in the Afghan mission in the near future. Public opinion in Britain, meanwhile, is already hostile to the mission-and may be further confused by the departure of te man who is the architect of Nato’s Afghan plan. The UK has this week passed the milestone of seeing the 300th British fatality since the start of the war in 2001.
Senior figures inside the Nato alliance are warning that the possible dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal as commander of the mission in Afghanistan could destabilise the international effort at a difficult time.
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