U.S. editorial excerpts -3-.
Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:
OBAMA'S SECURITY RESHUFFLE (The Wall Street Journal, New York)
President Obama's choices for his new security team amount to moving familiar names to unfamiliar places. In the most important changes announced Thursday, Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta will run the Pentagon and Afghan commander Gen. David Petraeus will return home to replace Panetta at Langley.
Every commander in chief deserves advisers he feels comfortable with, and Obama's first security team has by and large performed ably. What is effectively the second Obama wartime Cabinet strikes us as more problematic. Both Panetta and Petraeus are taking jobs that do not play to their main strengths, while they also leave unfinished business in their current jobs.
After years of post-Sept. 11 controversy at the CIA, Panetta put his political gift for conciliation to work. He adapted to the CIA's culture rather than trying to change it, promoting insiders, defending both agency turf from the director of national intelligence and agency officials who interrogated al-Qaida detainees. He gave the CIA an even bigger role in the war on terror by expanding drone strikes in terrorist-infested Pakistan and Yemen, an under-appreciated U.S. success.
But the talents that made Panetta popular at the CIA may not work as well at the Pentagon. In the best of times, a secretary of defense has to build coalitions but also knock heads and stand up to the military brass, defense contractors and their lobbyists, Capitol Hill and, when necessary, the White House.
Panetta is not known as a bruiser in what is likely to be a bruising era at the Pentagon. Obama wants what looks to be an excessive $400 billion squeezed out of the defense budget over the next dozen years. To avoid doing real harm to national defense, those cuts will require hard decisions by a Pentagon chief with the calloused knuckles of the outgoing secretary, Robert Gates.
Petraeus can navigate this bureaucratic minefield better than most, but as chairman of the joint chiefs he would have no learning curve and could oversee the strategy he helped to devise for Afghanistan.
We hope our concerns are misplaced, and we certainly wish both men well in their new jobs. Above all, we hope Obama gives them the resources and political support to succeed.