Afghans saw a different General McChrystal than the one that angered Washington

by Fox News Radio's Alastair Wanklyn in Kabul

"War is bigger than any one man" said President Obama, as he fired his Afghan commander.

You might be wrong, people here said quietly. Many Afghan government officials felt General Stanley McChrystal maintained a skilful balance at a critical time, a regard shared by international diplomats here.

"It was clearly a sad day," said Ambassador Mark Sedwell, Nato representative in Kabul. "Nobody wanted General McChrystal to leave Afghanistan in the circumstances that he did."

McChrystal was the strategist who argued one dead civilian can create ten new insurgents: he urged troops to avoid situations likely to require deadly fire.

He was the diplomat who ordered convoys to drive more carefully, to avoid infuriating Afghan road-users.

But he was not diplomatic enough. McChrystal met his fate in a bar in Paris, where boozed-up aides entertained a journalist with political venting that should never have been heard.

On the streets of Kabul and Kandahar, where gunmen run and sewage lies stinking, Afghans care little about personalities. They worry about security, health and income.

And - at heart - it's only the pace of the campaign that Afghanistan's government worries about. A governor of Kandahar warned against firing McChrystal because it might let the operation skip a beat.

But General David Petraeus has been tapping time throughout. At Centcom, he helped father this security plan; he will now see it through on the ground.

This appointment should allay the Afghans' fears for continuity.

And how, the day after, was General McChrystal doing?

One senior official in Kabul emailed him. The general is beating himself up, even though not all the mistakes were his.