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Lawmakers, Pundits Call for Obama to Oust Eikenberry, Holbrooke

Some lawmakers are calling for the replacement of Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke (left) and U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (right).

Now that President Obama has ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his role as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, some lawmakers and political pundits are saying the president should continue cleaning house and replace U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke.

Mr. Obama yesterday announced he was replacing McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus in the wake of derisive comments McChrystal and his staff made about numerous members of the administration to Rolling Stone magazine -- including Eikenberry and Holbrooke. The article revealed a dysfunctional relationship between the civilian and military sides of the Afghanistan team.

Sen. John McCain said this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he told Mr. Obama more personnel changes are needed to right the ship.

"We need a new team over there as well, perhaps at the embassy and other areas," he said. "The relationship between civil and military is not what it should be."

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) made similar statements today on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."

Asked whether Mr. Obama should replace Eikenberry and Holbrooke and "muzzle" Vice President Joe Biden on the issue of Afghanistan, Bond said, "That would be a good start."

"That's the kind of plan that I hope the president was referring to yesterday when he said we must have the entire team working together," he added.

Other lawmakers have expressed skepticism about the civilian team as well.

"The unfortunate comments that appeared in the magazine article by General McChrystal and his staff reveal what we have known, which is that there is not the kind of unity in Afghanistan between our civilian and military leadership," Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said in a news conference yesterday.

Some commentators argued that the mission in Afghanistan would be going much more smoothly with better civilian leaders and more cooperation.

"If they dumped on the enemy as much as they have each other, the Taliban would be long gone from the region and so would the United States," journalist Bob Franken writes at the Huffington Post. "Perhaps one of the top ranking diplomats should also go... replaced by say, Rahm Emanuel."

Jennifer Rubin of the conservative Commentary magazine writes that "McChrystal threw the curtain open on the dysfunctional and counterproductive civilian team in Afghanistan." Holbrooke and Eikenberry "should be canned," she says.

Rubin adds, "If Petraeus had those two instead of Ambassador Crocker, it's not clear we would have achieved as much as we have in Iraq."

Similarly, Thomas E. Ricks, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, writes in the New York Times that, "If President Obama is to be faulted, it is for leaving that group in position after it became apparent last fall that the men could not work well together."

"The president should finish cleaning house and fire Ambassador Eikenberry and the special envoy, Richard Holbrooke," he writes. "Mr. Obama should then replace them with a team that has a single person clearly in control, with the power to hire and fire the others. And he should send that new group to Kabul with clear orders that they should get along, or expect to be relieved."

Fred Kaplan at Slate writes that both Holbrooke's and Eikenberry's on-the-record criticisms of Afghan President Hamid Karzai undermine the United States' counterinsurgency campaign there.

"If U.S. policy isn't going to change, Eikenberry, too, should go," he writes. "Richard Holbrooke should be sent packing, as well."

More Coverage:

McChrystal Relieved of Duty; Petraeus Tapped
Watch Obama's Statement
McCain Calls for More Changes to Afghanistan Strategy, Personnel
David Petraeus Brings Experience to the Job
What Happened in the Oval Office
In Afghanistan, a New General -- But An Old Strategy
Bob Schieffer and Bill Plante React to the Announcement
McChrystal Statement: I Resigned to See the Mission Succeed
McChrystal Situation Imperils War Funding Bill
Washington Unplugged: McChrystal Fallout Shakes Up Administration
Is McChrystal "Damaged Goods"?
Pictures: General McChrystal and President Obama Special Report: Afghanistan

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