Power is Relative: Runaway General Stanley McChrystal has to Go

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runaway general.jpg
Barack Obama has an easy choice to make: fire a general who has established a culture of insubordination and indifference toward civilian leaders and partners in government or defer yet again to a general who acquires power like medals every time he outwits or outmaneuvers the White House.
General Stanley McChrystal went over clear lines in the debate about the surge into Afghanistan with freelance comments he made in London. Recently, McChrystal stated that the move into Kandahar would slow and threw into doubt confidence in a July 2011 drawdown start date. He didn’t consult with anyone before a public redesign of US strategy.
And now in this Rolling Stone report, “The Runaway General” (pdf), McChrystal and his team are reported ridiculing Joe Biden, Richard Holbrooke, Jim Jones, just about everyone not in their groove on strategy.
McChrystal has gone over too many lines.
Obama needs to fire him. If he doesn’t, McChrystal’s brand will be validated and the environment of insubordination and unprofessional conduct will be reinforced.
If McChrystal survives his White House encounter, then Obama will be diminished.
That is what this has come to.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

89 comments on “Power is Relative: Runaway General Stanley McChrystal has to Go

  1. sandlugs says:

    McChrystal was much more valuable to the USA than President O’Bama. O’Bama should have scolded McChrystal and brought him in line. That is what a true leader would have done. O’Bama should recall General Robert E. Lee recommending to a Field Commander that one of his junior officers should be promoted. The Field Comander told Lee that the junior officer did not speak well of Lee. Lee conveyed that what the junior officer thought of him of of no import, rather what the junior officer could contribute to the Southern cause. O’Bama does not appear to be a student of history, but only a student of politics.

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  2. kotzabasis says:

    D(T)eary Carroll, sorry for the hit of the boomerang.
    I missed saying in my above post that in none of the texts you posted above am I shown to be a racist and a glorifier of war and the latter being “self fulfilling,” as you explicitly accused me to be in your first post. So you continue to be a liar.
    I’ve only one advice: The only place where you can use and practice at a great profit, but not without laboriously sweating, the loose meretricious charms of your spirituality, intellectuality, and morality, is in a red district.

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The guy is just effin’ wacko. Its no wonder he has attached his hitch to Nadine’s team.

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  4. kotzabasis says:

    Carrol
    The evidence you collated against me is a boomerang that strikes you back. You must have an unconscious urge for cognitive hara-kiri.
    Murdock

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  5. Carroll says:

    Posted by kotzabasis, Jun 25 2010, 8:44AM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Your wish is my command oh phony one…
    Murdock evidently didn’t think enough your Muslim screed to archive it in the Daily Telegraph but here is a description:
    “In the wake of the Sydney riot, Murdoch

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, Carroll has pulled Kotz’s covers pretty completely.
    He is a strange one, isn’t he? I wonder if any of the roos in his nieghborhood are havin’ odd looking offspring?

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  7. kotzabasis says:

    carrol
    Sleeping with your bete noirs is not the sweetest of bed fellows and obviously last night you had a sleepless and rough night. You compensate perfectly your desiccated intellect by profusely sweating your body in search of all my blogs on the internet. And in your passionate hateful animus you show what a pathological liar you are. Where in any of my blogs have I incited the Sydney riots against Muslims and where have I described war as

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  8. carroll says:

    Posted by kotzabasis, Jun 23 2010, 10:49PM – Link
    JohnH
    I am not Jewish and least of all a “supremacist.” I was christened into a Greek Orthodox basin but I renounced my ‘orthodoxy’ and all religion at the age of thirteen
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Oh plezzze….you are well known as a racist and were denounced in Australia as a racist for your screeds against Muslims and your egging on of the Sydney riots against Muslims.
    You’re the equivalent of the US David Duke and the old KKK.
    Anyone interested can find all your rantings on google…your missives on how ‘inferior races’ naturally and quite rightly lose out in the world, war is glorious, the Jews are a mystical warrior race and ad nausum..
    Anyone reading your crap will understand immediately why you are so taken with Israel and the zionazis on here….you both share the same racist, eternal war and revenge and hatreds….driven no doubt as theirs is by a massive inferiority complex which causes you to try and disguise your tiny brain by using Aristole’s “entelechy” and other misapplied philosophial terms to describe war as ‘self fulfilling”…how idiotic.
    You’re just a ordinary garden variety racist wanting to be seen as a “enlightened warrior”.
    And beside being a flaming racist you are a nutcase..what’s with all those blogs of yours at which you post all the comments you make here and then post all the replies here to your comments on your blog….and there are no comments by any others on any of your blogs? …it’s weird. And why are you posting Dan K.’s replies made to you here all over the net at other sites?

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  9. kotzabasis says:

    I’m sorry, I put before my reply to drew in the wrong thread.
    drew
    You seem to place formality above entelechy, the vital part of war. Throughout history an ethic, no matter how laudable and worthy, in CRITICAL circumstances is degraded to a lower status if it is not made totally inutile. Winning the war is the primal goal and that can only be achieved by professionals, not by

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  10. drew says:

    Kotzabasis,
    Firmly, irrespective of what one thinks of Obama, the ethic of
    civilian control of the military must be sustained. There can be
    no exceptions or some kind of ‘conditional civilian control’ of the
    military.
    I think it’s fine for Obama to fire McC., reassert the chain of
    command, and then for the rest of us (as civilian opponents) go
    back to work replacing the president. But we don’t need career
    military working to undermine the executive branch. This is not
    Paraguay.
    McC. was losing the war and losing his men. Obama is losing
    the country. Both men are smaller than their respective
    institutions, though on occasion it appears that they don’t
    realize that.

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  11. Drayborne says:

    Whether or not Obama should fire McChrystal for lack of judgement in the Rolling Stones interview (story) is not for us to decide. Obama is the man that must make that decision.
    Has anyone looked into McChrystal’s financial holdings to see if he is part of the hundreds of military “hawks” who own stock in “Service Contract Companies” that are making millions off of the backs of U.S. Taxpayers by continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    It is a known fact that 83 cents out of every dollar we spend on the war goes to these “Service Contractors”.
    If we spent as much on finding a way to rid ourselves of the dependency on foreign oil we wouldn’t be in such a mess.

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  12. kotzabasis says:

    drew
    One must be reminded that Obama is NO Clemenceau. If the latter would be alive today he would on the contrary say that war is too important to leave to politicians of the calibre of Obama.

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  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “dakini/ekavira”
    “I’d take a bullet for Obama because it is my job. I’d take a bullet for McChrystal because it would be an honor”
    Well, after you figure out what you wanna call yourself, you can tackle the question about whether you want to take it between the eyes, or should we just make it a clean heart shot to put you out of your misery?

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Since when are we not to use our right to freedom of speech”
    People this blithering ignorant should have their keyboards disconnected.

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  15. kotzabasis says:

    JohnH
    I am not Jewish and least of all a “supremacist.” I was christened into a Greek Orthodox basin but I renounced my ‘orthodoxy’ and all religion at the age of thirteen.

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  16. Camp Runamuck says:

    Hey Wiggers, change the fookin’ record would ya?
    Get in the sack with your tag team oppo nadine, the Tossad operative, and give us all a break.

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  17. questions says:

    KAYE,
    Read the Constitution…. There’s nothing about generals’ being able to keep their jobs should they badmouth their pres….
    Freedom of speech runs something like, ummm, let me think, ummm, “Congress shall make no law abridging….” — there are no laws, but when a political appointee serves at the will of the pres, that appointee can be fired at the will of the pres. Nothing about Congress here….
    McC can say anything he wants, he just can’t do it as THE guy running the war in Af/Pak.
    But he might get a really good book contract soon!

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  18. Neo Controll says:

    Kaye, “he is fighting for our freedom . . .”
    Get a better cliche writer.
    Who will be the next neocon flack to wave the flag???

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  19. Neo Controll says:

    “ekavira” (10:12); “dakini (10:26)
    Troll alert. Pure duplicates. Stuffing the ballot box.
    And these idiots are still flogging “you have to be a military type” to get it.
    Yeah, just like their neocon hero Dick “7 deferements”/”go fuck yourself” Cheney.
    “Have any of you actually served in the military?” Cuts both ways dude. Had we a draft, there would be no Afghan war. And what makes your sorry ass think that most of the 60 somethings commenting here did not have their butts drafted, or fought that immoral war for reasons every bit as good (and right) as those who did serve.

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  20. KAYE says:

    Since when are we not to use our right to freedom of speech. McChrystal said what he felt, he is in the fighting zone, Obama is not. The general has the right to speak his mind. Obama has made a lot of mistakes since he has taken office. Give credit where credit is due, Gen. McChrystal deserves more respect, he is fighting for our freedom

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  21. JohnH says:

    I have to laugh at the Jewish supremacists here (wigwag, kotz, nadine). The all champion the application of Israel’s failed policies to Afghanistan–if force doesn’t work, use more force!
    But unlike Israel, the US does not have a sugar daddy eager to shower military toys on a failing project. Any successful Afghan project would carry a price tag that none of US would be willing to pay.
    Reckless military adventurism has already put the US deeply in hock to China. Yet all the supremacists can do is advocate more recklessness, military, financial, and strategic.

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  22. nadine says:

    “But it’s not true there is no policy. After listening to all of the competing players for several weeks, Obama announced the policy in his West Point speech, and gave everyone their marching orders.” (Dan Kervick)
    Dan, that’s like pointing to a CEO’s press releases to prove that he is managing the direction of the company well. And not a memorable press release either — I don’t remember Obama saying anything very coherent in that West Point speech. Much more important is the CEO’s vision and working relationship with his subordinates — one that is clearly lacking in this case.
    “hile I do not respect any aspect
    of Obama’s military outlook and leadership, this is not a problem
    of Obama’s making. McC. created this mess and he should be
    held accountable and summarily fired. ” (drew)
    drew, however much of this is McChrystal’s doing (and there is less than meets the eye when you read the quotes in the actual article), you cannot absolve Obama. A leader who reacts to strong disagreements on strategy by saying: take some from column A, and some from column B, and half the resources you asked for, and you guys go away and figure it out yourselves (which is how I read Obama’s management so far) is more or less guaranteeing that his forces will work at cross-purposes.

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  23. dakini says:

    Thank you Wigwag, for the sole voice of reason.
    Have any of the rest of you ever served in the military? Been to Iraq or Afghanistan? The “problem” here stems from the fact that our ostensible Commander in Chief has never served in the military and his innermost circle is similarly ill-equipped to understand what happens in war, much less how to lead. Gen. McChrystal is spot on. I’d take a bullet for Obama because it is my job. I’d take a bullet for McChrystal because it would be an honor.

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  24. ekavira says:

    Have any of you actually served in the military? Been to Iraq or Afghanistan? The “problem” here stems from the fact that our ostensible Commander in Chief has never served in the military and his innermost circle is similarly ill-equipped to understand what happens in war, much less how to lead. Gen. McChrystal is spot on. I’d take a bullet for Obama because it is my job. I’d take a bullet for McChrystal because it would be an honor.

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  25. DonS says:

    Good take, Drew. Obama needs not only to take the lessons from this event, but he needs to project it’s importance and execute well.
    Yet the pundits are already up to their “should he or shouldn’t he/ will he or wont he” stuff. Reasonably good NYT article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/world/asia/w24sanger.html?hp

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  26. drew says:

    Nadine, I think we need to let the meta-story (McC. is acting
    strategically, McC. is a Obama’s truth-teller) rest. This is a
    simpler situation.
    McC. is insubordinate, and because of that, he has forfeited the
    right to command men to their deaths. If Obama doesn’t can
    him, then Obama will be responsible for plunging the front lines
    into levels of despair and cynicism not seen since Viet Nam.
    I think, further, that it is mistaken to assume that Obama knows
    or cares about anything so arcane as COIN or rules of
    engagement in same. The subject bores him, and he has spent
    far, far more time on golf courses than with the soldiers fighting
    this war.
    There’s an awful lot of evidence that McC. had lost his credibility
    with his soldiers owing to poor strategy, execution and
    bureaucratic style — before this event. But everyone working
    for him knows that he is now publicly insubordinate, and that
    they themselves would be fired for equivalent behavior. If
    Obama doesn’t fire this guy — who is held to be, now,
    incompetent *and* insubordinate — we are in for disaster.
    Is Obama enough of an executive to fire someone? Remember,
    this is a guy who never ran a cash register at a 7/11 before
    becoming president. To be honest, does he even know how to
    fire somebody? Let’s hope someone holds his hand and walks
    him through the process.
    O: “General, did you make those remarks?”
    McC.: “In the main, on balance … blah blah blah … most of
    them and I’m certainly regretful of any … ”
    O: “General, you are relieved of duty immediately and General
    Jones would like to see you for a few minutes downstairs in the
    White House gym for a private discussion.”
    Clemenceau was right and war is too important to leave to the
    generals. What we need here is a general willing to fight this
    war, do so within the ethical boundaries of his profession, and
    recapture the trust of his men. While I do not respect any aspect
    of Obama’s military outlook and leadership, this is not a problem
    of Obama’s making. McC. created this mess and he should be
    held accountable and summarily fired. We are fighting a war,
    not debating a cabinet appointee, and the country and its
    soldiers (and allies) require coherence and leadership and
    stability at the top. The country elected Obama so he is a given
    for the next 2.5 years. Generals get fired all the time, as they
    should be. This guy McC. may have already lost the war, which
    many of his troopers already believe, and this stupid RS article
    invalidates his claim to lead.

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  27. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I agree that Obama made a poor decision last December when he decided to go for a difference-splitting compromise solution, giving everybody a little bit of what they wanted.
    But it’s not true there is no policy. After listening to all of the competing players for several weeks, Obama announced the policy in his West Point speech, and gave everyone their marching orders.
    Everybody involved seems to agree that the military advice Obama received from McChrystal was to the effect that the latter could accomplish the mission in 18 months. But I doubt that McChrystal ever really believed that. I suspect he was just scheming for more time by telling Obama what he wanted to hear, playing him for whatever troops and timeline extensions he could get at the time, knowing full well he would be back looking for more with a new sales pitch in early 2011. Due to recent setbacks in Afghanistan, the squabbling and salesmanship has just started early.
    From the moment the policy was conceived, there was an element of punting in it. Many people suspected that the war couldn’t be won in 18 months, even with a few tens of thousands of additional troops, and the hard decision had just been pushed off until 2011. The lobbying has already begun with the Biden people and others in the administration insisting on sticking to the deadline, and others beginning to lobby for more time.
    This war could easily go on for another nine years, and nine years after that, and it will probably only produce yet more of Afghanistan’s peculiar form of organized anarchy. The warlords might realign; the poppy fields might change hands; the gangs enjoying the largess and protection of the US government and US soldiers might change out. But the US cannot produce a state out of whole cloth from the fragmentation in Afghanistan. Only Afghans can do that, and they probably can’t do it with the distorting presence of the US.
    McChrystal’s media foray was attempt to strike early in the campaign for an extension next year. He got away with these kinds of tactics the first time. Maybe Obama should have sacked him then. But it is hard to say that your chief officer in the field should be canned for a first-time offense of this kind. That would have seemed too insecure and thin-skinned. But now it is clear that McChrystal did not just err in judgment last year. There is a pattern.

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  28. DonS says:

    above should read “For the record, of course I believe war and more war in Afghan, with more billions down the rat hole is misconceived from the jump”.
    …………………
    No one could ‘win’ that damn war, especially without a clear strategy to meet shifting realities on the ground. We are wasting our time and money there. It amazes me that some folks insist onmaking this about Obama and/or Bush instead of simply agreeing they were both friggin wrong to begin/continue/escalate for political reasons (a scenario that likely never would have emerged had the Iraq debacle not been engaged).
    Stupid, misguided ways to destroy the US financially and morally. They’re all to blame.

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  29. DonS says:

    1) If McChrystal was carelessly insubordinate of the entire administrative structure he needed to go
    2) If McChrystal was manipulatively insubordinate and undermining of the entire civilian structure he needed to go.
    Kotz’s “Is criticism by the military of some members of an inept and incompetent administration reason to dismiss a general who has the knowhow, tenacity . . .” answers itself: a)read all of the above comments acknowledging need for civilian control/military discipline and the fact that McChrystal went over the line according to virtually all (we will except the far right, Limbaugh, Beck and clones), b) McChrystal’s brilliance in COIN strategy that he sold Obama has been far less than successful; the myth far exceeds the performance. So my surmise is McChrystal threw this PR piece into the mix to try to save his own rep, even setting up the enigmatic pseudo conflict between staunch McChrystal COIN (failing for what reason that does not implicate McC??) and the ‘restrictive’ ROE that can be laid at Obama’s doorstep because he bought McC’s BS. So was/is McC’s angling for support for a more blazing guns strategy, and looking for civilian scapegoats to cover his own failures?
    For the record, of course I believe war and more war in Afghan, with more billions down the rat hole is dfrom the jump. That most here seem to agree except for those who seem to love war under any circumstance as the way to get those islamofascists, blah, blah.

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  30. nadine says:

    Dan, one fact everybody can agree on is that Eikenberry and Holbrooke have been at odds with McChrystal for a long time.
    If you like McChrystal, you are outraged at his being undermined. If you don’t like McChrystal, you are outraged that Eikenberry and Holbrooke weren’t listened to when they tried to “bravely warn” Obama about McChrystal’s problems.
    But view the situation as you may, there is no getting away from the fact that Barack Obama is the President and the Commander in Chief, which means he is supposed to be in charge of the situation, which means deciding on some feasible policy and getting all the major players on board with it, or out. Instead nobody’s in charge and there is no policy, so faction-fighting smoulders on until it bursts into the open, as it just did.
    In fact, Obama made the situation a lot worse by dithering for months over McChrystal’s requests, barely speaking to him, and mishandling the already paranoid Karzai so badly that he is ready to bolt to the Taliban.
    Incompetence starts at the top in this administration.

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  31. nadine says:

    Barry Rubin has a suggestion:
    Now, let me pose a suggestion. Read the article but pretend that it is talking about President George W. Bush and his administration. What emerges then is not primarily a

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  32. Dan Kervick says:

    I see it differently POA. Reviewing the facts, here’s how I think the McChrystal command has gone down:
    1. McChrystal told Obama he could get the job done in 18 months.
    2. It is obvious that he can’t get the job done, and that the counterinsurgency strategy is currently going nowhere. The representations to the President were pure BS.
    3. With the writing of failure on the wall, McChrystal made a bold media play for an extension of the war past mid-2011, a play in which he appears to have used subordinates to attack his enemies – including Biden – who favor sticking to the timeline and getting out.
    4. Another McChrystal enemy is Holbrooke, who has correctly sized up Hamid Karzai as a corrupt, erratic and fraudulently elected incompetent. Holbrooke apparently let Karzai have it in person, which threatened to expose the hollow promises of McChrystal’s fantasy-world counterinsurgency plans.
    5. The always-wrong, crazed interventionist Hillary Clinton rushed to help paper over the outing of Karzai, and bandaged his boo-boos in public.
    6. Another enemy of McChrystal is Eikenberry, who has also apparently seen through the general’s elaborate counterinsurgency fantasies for a long time, and attempted to warn Obama off them. Eikenberry has also pegged Karzai as a bad partner seeking permanent dependency on a perpetual US presence, and correctly understood that McChrystal’s grandiose counterinsurgency plans could only be implemented at “astronomical” costs to the United States.
    7. Rolling Stone fact-checked the McChrystal article for two weeks, and McChrystal signed off on the quotes. He clearly ran this play on purpose.
    8. McChrystal has done this sort of thing before, just last year.
    9. Together with these two incidents, the final straw of the Pat Tillman incident cinches the case for McChrystal as a ruthlessly dishonest schemer and manipulator. Nobody should trust him and his promises; least of all Obama.
    10. McChrystal’s apology is pure, insincere crap. He is still scheming and spinning to drag you, me and the rest of the country into several more years at least of endless and expensive folly in Afghanistan, and is counting on Obama being too unsure of himself to pull the plug on McChrystal’s command.
    11. Even most of the people who defended McChrystal after the previous stunts appear to have had enough of this confabulating prima donna.
    12. The hopeless doper-President Karzai has defended McChrystal, since McChrystal is apparently nicer to him and more indulgent than Holbrooke, who angrily smacked Karzai upside the head with the truth in a face-to-face meeting.
    So,
    13. McChrystal is no bold truth-teller. He is a scheming, power-drunk rogue, who has no real idea how to win the eternal war he is in charge of, at least not in any way whose costs are remotely commensurate to the actual security value of Afghanistan.
    14. Obama should see this episode as the clarifying, scale-removing incident it is. McChrystal, a dishonest and manipulative personality who has apparently surrounded himself by a sycophantic and mutinous cult of worshipful flunkies in Afghanistan, is very bad news. Obama allowed himself to be intimidated, played and talked into following out McChrystal’s counterinsurgency schemes once before. He should not get fooled twice.

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  33. nadine says:

    Good comments, Wigwag.
    You could also add: who is responsible for a full COIN/nation-building strategy in so unpromising a venue as Afghanistan in the first place?
    Obama.

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  34. kotzabasis says:

    The unsated gratification of nipple-fed intellectuals is to replace the savvy and the strong with their own brand of weakness. This has happened to John Bolton and is now happening to Stanley McChrystal. The successful general who had killed thousands of insurgents and al-Qaeda fanatics and their leader Zarkawi in Iraq by his Special Forces operations which was the major contributing factor to the success of the Surge that had turned an American defeat into an American victory, is to be swept out by the anti-war animus of all the dilettantes of strategy and military affairs for his so called insubordination to his civilian superiors.
    What McChrystal has done other than, according to his aides, express his disappointment about Obama and Holbrooke, and one of his aides saying that Jim Jones is a clown? And is it surprising for McChrystal in describing a Pentagon meeting in which among a coruscating constellation of generals of strength, tenacity, and success Obama with his weak character was found to be diffident and intimidated? And why McChrystal cannot express his view about the timorous Ambassador Eikenbery who is more concerned to cover

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  35. JohnH says:

    Wigwag is right. This is Obama’s fault. McCrystal led him into a trap, and Obama gladly took the bait. A year ago, McCrystal went public with his complaints, demanding Obama give him what he needed to be successful, or else. Obama could have fired McCrystal then and there. But of course, Obama caved, giving McCrystal what he wanted to prosecute a pointless, futile war.
    Then, the predictable happened–the quagmire got worse. Perhaps Obama thought the military could be placated. Or perhaps, having given the military everything they said they needed for success, he had set them up, thinking that the American people would finally realize the pointlessness and futility of it all.
    Now the military is frustrated at its own failure. The blame game has begun. Everything about Afghanistan is Obama’s fault, even though the military got what they said they needed for success.
    Obama should have known better. The militarists have spent the last 35 years painstakingly rewriting the lessons of Vietnam to show that the fiasco was the politicians’ fault, not theirs. The militarists and their friends in the media are ready to crush any politician who might have the audacity to think that military solutions might fail.
    Obama should have done the right thing at the outset and decided that Afghanistan was not worth it, particularly since he couldn’t articulate any compelling reason for being there. Instead he caved.
    Obama has had a year to plan his defense for getting out of Afghanistan. But I expect he is totally unprepared for the coming onslaught of recriminations. And so I expect he’ll meekly submit to the flogging that is awaiting him.

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  36. jjm says:

    What these remarks show me is that McChrystal was careless in
    front of a reporter because he says things like this this all time–in
    order to excuse away his own complete failure as a strategist.
    Let’s hope this will put an end to his hopeless ‘counterinsurgency.’

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  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    A year ago, I mighta agreed with Steve. But I am now more inclined to think that this General might just be Obama’s Shinzeki. Certainly McChrystal has got to know a bit more about waging war than this media creation Obama does, eh? Who do YOU wanna march into harm’s way under the leadership of? Seems to me McChrystal sees the Afghanistan thing in a far more realistic light than this sack of shit Obama does. Difference is, Obama will just lie to us about it.
    So McChrystal doesn’t respect this posturing fraud of a Commander in Chief??? Well tell me, what the fuck is there to respect?
    And Biden??? McChrystal is less than infatuated with that overfilled gas bag?? So when did we start firing Generals for being good judges of character?

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  38. Mr.Murder says:

    Afghanistan is a cannibal caravan of contractor fraud and abuse.
    Nobody is really in charge of it. The situation is spiraling itself into chaos.
    Ghosts of the mujahadeen are laughing.

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  39. WigWag says:

    The contretemps over McChrystal’s remarks obscures the more important issue; the President’s Afghanistan policy is in disarray and the President himself is to blame.
    The military leadership in Afghanistan and the civilian leaders in the White House (and the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan) have been taking more pot shots at each other than they’ve been taking against the Taliban. Who is to blame for this?
    Obama.
    Vice President Biden gave an interview to Newsweek in which he said that by this time next year, the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan would be greatly reduced. Secretary of Defense Gates, responding to Biden said, “that has absolutely not been decided.” Who should be blamed for this?
    Obama.
    Ambassador Eikenberry (the second biggest of the many morons who work for Obama after James Jones), never misses an opportunity to express his disgust about President Karzai. Meanwhile Secretary of State Clinton does everything she can to convince the press that the breach between the Administration in Washington and the Administration in Kabul has been patched up. Who screwed this up?
    Obama.
    The President’s incompetence is putting American troops at risk and he’s making the nation he leads look foolish.
    All the talk about whether McChrystal will or will not be fired misses the point. It’s not McChrystal who is weakening the United States; it’s the President who is doing that.
    Jackson Diehl, who is usually another lame brain, has an interesting column in today’s Washington Post about this. It can be found here,
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/06/dont_blame_mcchrystal_blame_ob.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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  40. JohnH says:

    “we’d very likely see a different military.” And a very different country. Any number of Arab states (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) or Lain American states from the 1980’s could serve as your guide to America would look like under military control.
    Posse comitatus has already been nullified. Warrantless wiretapping has been accepted. The President can designate anyone a terrorist and disappear him.
    Instead of conjuring up foreign bogeymen, enemies of the state would magically appear everywhere inside the country.
    Those who celebrate a militaristic culture need to be careful: they might get what they’re asking for.

    Reply

  41. Sweetness says:

    AFAIK, “civilian control of the military” refers to the President not Congress. One of the reasons the military behaves itself is that it is under civilian control. If the military controlled itself, unmoored from the citizenry, we’d very likely see a different military.

    Reply

  42. Ajaz says:

    If President Obama lets General McChrystal off the hook, it will be an open invitation to other Generals to be insubordinate.
    Obama must show leadership and not only fire McChrystal, but also initiate action against his insubordination.
    McChrystal’s record was murky in Iraq and it was a huge mistake choosing him to lead the war in Afghanistan.

    Reply

  43. JamesL says:

    Yes I found it. I mixed up Don S’s “resigned with Dan K’s “submitted his resignation”. I can’t see Obama refusing. Nor can I see a Palin McChrystal ticket. Unless she likes Bud Lite Lime too.

    Reply

  44. questions says:

    JamesL,
    It’s all over the place, and has been characterized as a standard act on the part of the person in the center of the storm.
    The real issue is whether or not the resignation will be accepted.
    WigWag, what ever happened with Clinton and the whole DADT thing? My foggy memory sees parallels in terms of military insubordination against a non-military pres.

    Reply

  45. JamesL says:

    Dan Kervick: “UPDATE: McChrystal has submitted his resignation.”
    Source?

    Reply

  46. JohnH says:

    The real solution is for McCrystal to resign or be “promoted” to command a black site (Bagram), where he would not be allowed access to any telecommunications outside of official channels.

    Reply

  47. Dwight D says:

    If Obama doesn’t fire him then McChrystal is effectively a military Pres. with Hillary C in charge of diplomacy. Obama being rendered impotent.

    Reply

  48. LeaB says:

    It’s McCrystal’s fault – who replaced Gen. McKirnen when it was his fault.
    The latest in a long line of fall guys for the failings of this administration.
    Afghanistan was the war that Obama wanted. At what point will this failed venture be his fault?

    Reply

  49. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t think the fallout will be all that lively. My sense was that there was already bipartisan frustration with McChrystal in Washington among the pro-war camp. Many of them seem to agree with a lot of McChrystal’s men, who want a loosening up of the rules of engagement so they can “get their gun on”. Obama will name a successor and the country will move on.

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  50. Dan Kervick says:

    “If he fires McChrystal, the Republicans will skewer the President alive.”
    Not necessarily. Byron York, for example, has already said this was beyond the pale.
    Also, I suspect a lot of conservatives actually want to win the war in Afghanistan, and recognize McChrystal is not winning it.
    UPDATE: McChrystal has submitted his resignation.

    Reply

  51. DonS says:

    Sources reporting McChrystal resigns.
    Wig, you may think the fallout will be ‘entertaining’. But should it be used to distract from the salient issue of civilian control. You give lip service to that but it seems like you are licking your lips to used it as a springboard to bash Obama some more. You talk about Mcchrustal having a sense of honor. What about wigwag? Any sense of decency or are all events opportunities to ride your personal anti-Obama hobby horse. You know damn well that fgew among commenters here arre big Obama fans; yet you set up that straw man time and again. Be honest. If you want to bash Obama do it on your own dime,not some straw man that you fabricate.

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  52. WigWag says:

    It’s interesting to reflect on what the political consequences would be if Obama actually summoned up the courage to fire McChrystal.
    After all, the whole incident is already a political disaster for the President; he loses no matter what he does. Either he ignores McChrystal’s insubordination and keeps him in the job in which case Obama looks weak and feckless to everyone, especially the military.
    Alternatively, if he fires McChrystal, his Afghanistan policy looks like its in even more disarray than it already is. Moreover, Obama will look like an elitist, out of touch President firing a General who put his life on the line in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Here’s a message for you President Obama; you’re no Harry Truman.
    When Harry Truman fired MacArthur, Truman was a plain-spoken World War I veteran who brought World War II (specifically the War in the Pacific) to a successful conclusion.
    Obama on the other hand decided to spend his formative years sipping Chardonnay between classes at Columbia and Harvard rather than serving in the military.
    If he fires McChrystal, the Republicans will skewer the President alive.
    Come to think of it, maybe watching the fall-out from Obama firing McChrystal will be highly entertaining.
    My real guess though is that Obama won’t have to ask for McChrystal’s resignation. I suspect that McChyrstal will end up doing the right thing and resign on his own without being asked.
    Why would he do that? I suspect that McChrystal is everything that Obama isn’t; most importantly, unlike Obama, the General may very well have a sense of honor.

    Reply

  53. susan says:

    Chris Bowers at openleft.com provides some history:
    McChrystal situation is about military vs. civilian control of Afghanistan policy
    David Sirota reminds us of how General McChrystal used the willingness of military and government elites to turn control of national security over to the military forced Obama’s hand on the troop build-up in Afghanistan:
    The U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says he wants more troops. His new memo calling for a bigger Afghanistan deployment prompted President Obama to begin carefully considering different ways forward – and Washington to hammer the White House for entertaining any alternative to McChrystal’s request.
    Republicans lambasted Obama for letting
    “political motivations…override the needs of our commanders,” as Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said. Likewise, the Washington Post insisted that Obama’s failure to promptly back McChrystal’s surge proposal could “dishonor” America, while the New York Times said no matter what the president wants, “It will be very hard to say no to General McChrystal.”
    The coordinated assault sharpens that question about who “the deciders” should be – elected officials or the military?
    Before Obama had made his decision on whether to escalate in Afghanistan, McChrystal made it known that he wanted an escalation. This put Obama in a difficult political position, given that our national media seems to think the military should decide whether, when, where and for how long we send troops overseas. It also probably didn’t help that members of Obama’s cabinet seems to share that view
    “Hillary had Stan’s back during the strategic review,” says an adviser. “She said ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.”
    I don’t mean to avoid casting any blame on Obama for the escalation, as though he did it unwillingly in the face of insurmountable public pressure to listen to McChrystal. He didn’t.
    However, by stating his policy preference in public and playing off elite deference to the military on this area of foreign policy, McChrystal set a very dangerous precedent for any possible future time when a President may have different views on troop deployments than the top military commanders. If Obama had not wanted to escalate, McChrystal’s public statements would have put Obama in an extremely difficult political position.
    This poses a threat to civilian governance of the military in America.
    It is also worth noting that McChrystal may have even violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Artical 88 states:
    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
    According to Rolling Stone, McChrystal was pretty contemptuous of Vice-President Joe Biden:
    McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.
    “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”
    If McChrystal were to continue on as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, it would continue to call into question civilian governance of the military in America. The military does not dictate foreign policy, and it is subordinate either the Executive or Legislative branches of government. Or, at least it should be those things. But, if Obama were to allow McChrystal to stay on, it is probably about time to start using terms like Secretary Obama and President McChrystal.

    Reply

  54. oohindu says:

    @JohnH
    That’s an interesting theory, but McCrystal voted
    Democrat in the last election and I doubt that he
    has political ambitions. Still, he has to go, or
    operationally, someone else should take over for
    him.

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    The McChrystal episode raises two questions: (1) Were the Generals comments politic or acceptable; (2)were the General’s comments correct?
    The answer to the first question is pretty clear; the General’s comments were completely unacceptable. It is the civilian leadership under the Commander in Chief that runs the military not the other way around. The fact that the Commander in Chief is a clueless idiot changes nothing. Obama isn’t the first incompetent nitwit the United States has suffered under and he won’t be the last.
    Of course neither Steve Clemons nor most of the people who comment at his blog expressed any outrage at the criticism that members of the military (and recently retired members of the military) directed towards either Bush or Rumsfeld. It wasn’t just Shinseki; Generals and retired Generals who criticized Bush, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld included: Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, General Anthony Zinni, Major General Paul Eaton, Major General John Riggs, Major General Charles Swannack and Major General John Batiste.
    In addition to that, the Bush Administration faced a virtual insurrection from the CIA; all without a comment at the Washington Note.
    None of this is to say that those criticizing Bush/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz weren’t completely right. Everything that they said might have been true. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Either it’s appropriate for currently serving and recently retired members of the military to criticize the civilian leaders including the President or its not.
    The honest answer is that it’s not right. The behavior of the military leadership (and leaders in the CIA) was wrong during the Bush Administration just like McChyrstal’s behavior is wrong now.
    The second question is whether McChrystal’s comments were accurate.
    Is Jim Jones a disaster as the National Security Advisor? Absolutely! He may be the most clueless National Security Advisor in American history. It’s hard to imagine anyone worse for his job than Jones (except perhaps for Obama himself). Jones is so clueless that the security of the nation is literally put at risk every day he spends on the job. McChyrstal is right; Jones is a “clown.”
    Is Richard Holbrooke exasperating? McChyrstal clearly thinks so. But so does Steve Clemons. After professing what a thankless job Holbrooke has and after saying how much he likes and respects Holbrooke; Steve has criticized Holbrooke relentlessly. It’s hard to believe that Kati Marton doesn’t have to slap her husband around every now and then just to keep his ego in check. I like and respect Holbrooke; but can anyone claim with a straight face that he isn’t exasperating?
    Was Ambassador Eikenberry the right person for the job? Was it smart to select someone to be Ambassador to Afghanistan who publically opposes Obama’s Afghanistan policy and clearly can’t get along with the General in charge of the War? Does Obama believe that empowering a coiterie of rivals is the best way to win the war in Afghanistan? Give me a break!
    Does anyone doubt that Obama is intimidated when meeting with McChyrstal and other senior members of the military? Given his lack of military service and given his lack of any accomplishment short of being elected President, why wouldn’t Obama be intimidated about meeting with men and women who actually got their jobs based on merit?
    Considering how much Obama likes to cozy up to people who hate America and how cavalier he is about criticising American allies and those who share American values, maybe Obama really will summon up the courage to fire McChrystal. Maybe he even should.
    But it’s not General McChrystal who is leading the United States in a profoundly wrong and dangerous direction; it’s Barak Obama doing that.

    Reply

  56. JohnH says:

    If McCrystal did this deliberately, he may well want Obama to fire him. Apart from rescuing him from ignominy in Afghanistan, he would instantly become a Tea Party cult figure and be well positioned to become Sarah Palin’s running mate.

    Reply

  57. DonS says:

    “If Obama was a Republican, Steve Clemons would be lauding McChrystal as a brave whistleblower. Just look how the left treated Shinseki when he disagreed with Rumsfeld about the troop levels needed to invade Iraq. Power is relative indeed.” (nadine)
    Comparing Shinseki’s substantive argument with McChrystal’s personal trashing in a magazine is beyond a far stretch, as well as the implication that Clemons is playing politics.
    The point here is basic military discipline which has undoubtedly slipped in recent years, or even been used to to float policy. This episode is nothing of the sort, and your reduction of it to politics shows your blind obsession with politics over policy, and more war.
    Ylour assertion that “McChrystal is deliberately suiciding his career for his men’s sake ” is beyond credulous or psycophanty. It is insane; get off your knees woman!
    Quoting [even] Wigwag, “The principle of civilian control over the military is an important one; it

    Reply

  58. Carroll says:

    I can understand why military men are disgusted…without necessarily agreeing with or endorsing their particular views.
    The disrespect is just another indication of the overall ‘attitude’ everywhere today against “politicans.”….which is what Obama has turned out to be…just another politician.
    And civilian control of the military isn’t all it’s cracked up to be….you really want the US military controlled by the Israeli war whores in our congress?
    I think history shows we have had more war rouges in the civilian bodies than we have had in the military.
    It was just 2 years ago we were praising a Commander who said he would resign before he would endorse a US attack on Iran.
    No one, not even and probably especially the military, has any respect for DC these days.
    The military does take seriously their oath to defend and serve where as the political sector’s only oath is to defend whatever serves their political careers and their big donors best.
    So place your bets and spin the wheel…military, politicians, military, politicans….

    Reply

  59. Bart says:

    Could this be McChrystal’s way of throwing in the
    towel in Afghanistan, knowing that his is a fool’s
    mission?
    Also, the “Phoney War” was the period over the
    winter of 1939-1940 as Britain was getting its act
    together for the Battle of same.

    Reply

  60. Dan Kervick says:

    I think Obama needs to act quickly here. He should sack McChrystal as soon as they meet, and appoint a new commander immediately so that the debate does not fester in the press for days.
    My guess is that Obama is actually very frustrated by McChrystal’s approach and lack of progress in Afghanistan, and is happy for this chance to get rid of him.

    Reply

  61. jjm says:

    In what has Obama demonstrated ‘incompetence’? Oh–he let 9/11
    happen? No? He didn’t pass HCR? He didn’t begin to right the
    economy wrecked by years of Republican misrule? He didn’t get BP
    to cough up?
    It may be that the fundamentalist Christianizing of the military
    makes them assume automatic superiority over the rest of us,
    including the CIC.

    Reply

  62. samuelburke says:

    these militarist believe they are in a world where falling muslim
    dominoes could mean the end of humanity.

    Reply

  63. Dan Kervick says:

    Shinseki was testifying under oath to Congress. He was asked straight out for an estimate and gave it. He did so without disparaging, insulting or even mentioning any of his superiors. And he wasn’t speaking to Rolling Stone, or to an audience in London.

    Reply

  64. Maw of America says:

    How frustrating! I just went to a lecture by Peter Beinart last night, and it would have been so much more interesting had this news broken a few hours earlier. The Q&A would have been downright insane!
    McChrystal has become the real-life doppelganger of Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men.” Now we’ll learn if Obama et al can handle the truth.

    Reply

  65. susan says:

    We’re not there to win, we’re there to hack people off and get them to pick up a gun, whatever it takes to legitimize endless war. It’s about selling military hardware and not much else.
    “The ten largest defense contractors in the nation spent more than $27 million lobbying the federal government in the last quarter of 2009, according to a review of recently-filed lobbying records.
    The massive amount of money used to influence the legislative process came as the White House announced it would ramp up military activity in Afghanistan and Congress considered appropriations bills to pay for that buildup. All told, these ten companies, the largest revenue earners in the industry, spent roughly $7.2 million more lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2009 (October through December) than in the three months prior.
    Such an increase in lobbying expenditures is partly a reflection of just how profitable the business of waging war can be. Each of these companies earned billions of dollars in defense contracts this past year. As the U.S. ramps up its military activities overseas, and the army is stretched thin by other ventures, it stands to reason that the contracts won’t dry up any time soon…
    In mid-December, Congress passed a defense appropriations bill that totaled more than $635 billion. Shortly thereafter, the firm Northrop Grumman moved its corporate office to the Washington D.C. region to be closer to the heart of legislative action. Among the issues on which these ten firms lobbied, “appropriations” was the most frequently cited in lobbying forms.
    “We’ve built Rome,” one longtime good-government official said of the symbiosis between contractors and the government.
    On a related note, the Congressional Research Service released a report which showed that the number of private security contractors has bulged in the wake of Obama’s Afghanistan-surge announcement. Currently, contractors in Afghanistan make up between 22 percent and 30 percent of armed U.S. forces in Afghanistan.”

    Reply

  66. nadine says:

    If Obama was a Republican, Steve Clemons would be lauding McChrystal as a brave whistleblower. Just look how the left treated Shinseki when he disagreed with Rumsfeld about the troop levels needed to invade Iraq. Power is relative indeed.
    “But generals are supposed to keep those thoughts under their hats, and to pass their appropriate input up through the chain of command. ” (Dan Kervick)
    That is true, Dan, and McChrystal is the kind to have done just that — and gotten the brushoff from Obama, and been forced into a losing war with impossible ROEs and timelines for exit which the enemy is waiting out (drew, I blame Obama, not McChrystal, for the ROEs). McChrystal is no desk jockey; he is a soldier-general. I think we may regard this as a calculated act; everybody who knows McChrystal says he is a careful man. McChrystal is deliberately suiciding his career for his men’s sake.
    “I can’t believe you are still beating the drum for this extremely foolish and interminable war, and the demonstrably blind military leadership in Afghanistan.”
    It was Obama who beat the drum for this war, over and over and over. He called it a good war, a war of necessity, the war we should be fighting instead of Iraq. Did he know or care what he was saying? No further than the immediate political advantage. Now he’s stuck. That’s what cheap demagoguery buys you.

    Reply

  67. Rich says:

    JohnH has a good point but not the whole picture. It appears to me that the JCS have begun preparing for a take over since the days of FDR. The US economy governmental structure will collapse, due to the efforts of the Marxists revolutionaries in the White House in concert with the Cloward and Piven plan, various groups will be vying for control of the government. Would I prefer the military running the nation or a Marxist like George Soros or Obama?
    I think so. The only hope for this nation to remain free is a Tea Party revolution at the ballot box.

    Reply

  68. JohnH says:

    Wigwag obviously doesn’t understand the role of the military in a democracy or what’s at stake when the military dictates.
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2010/06/see-the-mcchrystal-post-on-30-may-2010.html#comments
    Wigwag also fails to understand traditional Jewish wisdom: “If force does not work, use brains.” Her prescription: “If force doesn

    Reply

  69. Saadia Chaudhry says:

    I haven’t heard of many generals who have insubordination within their own ranks.
    But as far as his own disagreements or debates, can’t they try to establish a mechanism to express and/or address them in a better and perhaps more private way? It might set a good example.
    As long as there is a genuine effort to resolve the problems in Afghanistan or elsewhere, it might be a good avenue to take first.

    Reply

  70. anirprof says:

    Sadly, I do believe the statement that the RS article “won’t affect the way Eikenberry, Holbroke and McChrystal work together”….

    Reply

  71. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, there are all sorts of things that might or might not be true about Obama or other people in the Obama administration. I think Obama made a mistake when he decided to be Mr. Compromise last year, and split the difference between getting out of Afghanistan or going in big to win.
    But generals are supposed to keep those thoughts under their hats, and to pass their appropriate input up through the chain of command. You might think Obama sucks as a president; but if he fails to affirm the authority and maintain the discipline of the command structure of the US armed forces, whose apex is constitutionally located in the White House, then he will be doing an even worse job. Obama has already given McChrystal one pass on a fairly egregious first offense, so he has to bust him now.
    The use McChrystal is making of the press to disparage administration officials is not just inappropriate. It is actually a court-martialable offense.
    I can’t believe you are still beating the drum for this extremely foolish and interminable war, and the demonstrably blind military leadership in Afghanistan. The assessments and predictions McChrystal has given have turned out to be absurdly wrong. The progress and performance of his mission has fallen far short of his assurances. The counterinsugency strategy the Pentagon is pursuing requires a level of and insight and realism about political, cultural and social conditions in Afghanistan that McChrystal evidently lacks.
    And now that his own incompetence has been exposed by a year of further reverses, he and his associates are attempting to take down others in the government by lashing out in the press.
    Apart from the need to maintain the integrity of the chain of command, this latest case of McChrystal stepping out of line gives Obama an excellent opportunity to relieve McChrystal and put somebody else in charge.

    Reply

  72. susan says:

    The Guardian’s reporters think McChrystal will stay:
    “The official was unable to say how long the general would be away, but did say that McChrystal believed he had largely “sorted” the situation after immediately calling the people he had attacked in the profile to apologise.
    Earlier today, McChrystal attended a meeting with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative who McChrystal also belittled in the magazine article.
    A US diplomat said that while “the story sucked” and that McChrystal “running amok” was embarrassing, the row would not affect policy or the way the men worked together.”
    http://tinyurl.com/34dk3fq

    Reply

  73. Pahlavan says:

    It was just a few short months ago that McChrystal was the greatest thing since apple pie, but now all the Monday morning quarterbacks are out for his neck. Yet another clear indication that we are far from digging ourselves out of the mess they’ve got us into, and al thought the average American deserves better, things won’t change unless the masses intervene.

    Reply

  74. WigWag says:

    Is it McChrystal who has to go or is it Obama? Is McChrystal a poor general or is Obama an incompetent President? Which of the two is unqualified for his job, McChrystal or Obama? Has McChrystal failed to make adequate progress in Afghanistan or has Obama failed to achieve any substantial accomplishments despite the fact that he’s more than one third into his first term? Who has done more to win the trust of the American people McChrystal or Obama? Is it McChrystal or Obama who can claim the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as the perfect metaphor for his leadership skills?
    What is it that McChrystal said that is so outrageous? Here are some of the remarks reportedly made by McChyrstal and his staff members in the now famous Rolling Stone article (these quotes are from the New York Times story on the controversy.)
    “One of General McChrystal

    Reply

  75. JohnH says:

    This extremely important discussion is long, long overdue. As DonS says, “this will be a test of whether the majority of elected officials back civilian control of the military, and actually of government.” erichwwk adds “The larger issue is ‘who is in charge.'”
    For me the video evidence came when Obama marched in lock step alongside the military brass at Dover AFB when dead CIA agents were returned from Afghanistan. He was definitely not the “Commander in Chief.” He was merely the new kid on the team.
    erichwwk also says the “The ‘Presidency’ lost control of the military in the US, as in Pakistan, decades ago.” Bush 43 used to plead pathetically, “you have to give the generals what they need in Iraq.”
    James Douglass’ extraordinarily well documented book “JFK and the Unspeakable,” spotlights the test of wills going on between the President and the CIA and military services 50 years ago. After the assassination, Johnson told the Joint Chiefs of Staff “Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war.”
    The military and CIA took some knocks after Vietnam, but Bush 43, along with Cheney and Rumsfeld, unleashed them. Obama is almost certainly reminded of this regularly. And I’m sure the Teddy used to tell Obama stories about what happened to his brother…

    Reply

  76. Rich says:

    Obama has a tough job. He must find a general whose career is based on intelligence, honor and integrity, that is dumb, foolish and dishonest to enough to allow a politician to run the Iraq war for political gain.
    Impeach Obama

    Reply

  77. drew says:

    McChrystal is held in contempt by his men doing the fighting,
    and he should be fired for his restrictive ROE and the modest
    fact that he just gave Kandahar back to the Taliban for another
    year (he suspended the June Kandahar campaign until October).
    If, instead, Obama wants to fire this bureaucrat for being stupid
    with Rolling Stone, fine with me. I cannot figure out why
    Petraeus has kept this guy, but I gather he has his own DoD
    constituency.
    Erichwwk, you don’t know squat about the Pacific war; nor,
    apparently, do you know (nor have you known) anyone who
    fought there. The USA had 50,000 casualties in Okinawa alone.
    MacArthur, who had been prescient in his casualty estimates
    prior to every island assault throughout the war, is the source of
    the 1,000,000 casualty estimate for the beach assault of Japan.
    I’m not sure why I do this, because all you have to do is open an
    encyclopedia to secure the same information.

    Reply

  78. Michael Kahn says:

    Steve, I am so grateful to you for helping me keep my bearings
    though all this. Many thanks. With great admiration,
    michael

    Reply

  79. erichwwk says:

    The 46,000 lost American lives refers to the Military of the lives that would be lost in an American invasion of the four Japanese islands, primarily Honshu and Kyushu.
    Also, the spearheading propaganda organization was the American Heritage Junior Library, not the American Junior Heritage Library.

    Reply

  80. donj says:

    Agreed, he must be relieved of command for going public.
    However, keep in mind that “his” strategy was restricted by the troop and support level the president and congress were willing, politically, to provide. McChrystal is correct when he says the conflict in Afghanistan cannot be won by military force alone. What he needs, we (the American public – read “taxpayers”) are not willing to give him. He needs major investment in nation-building – roads, schools, hospitals, businesses to create jobs, water and power plants, and much more — and that takes a lot of money. He also needs many (many!) more troops in small units that can be put in place in dozens of cities and villages and kept in place for months until the infrastructure construction is completed and a reasonably uncorrupt governing authority securely established.
    General McChrystal is in the unfortunate position of having taken over a losing war long after the American public’s patience with it waned. We are not a people who are used to long, complicated conflicts that, by their very nature, take decades to resolve. Nor are we very willing to understand other cultures that are organized on personal and tribal loyalties. We ignored that aspect to our detriment in Vietnam and are doing so again in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Still, bottom line, the arguement McChrystal and his subordinates are making are to be made in the War Room, not the media office.

    Reply

  81. erichwwk says:

    General McCrystal is a symptom of a much larger problem. The larger issue is “who is in charge” when it comes to use of force? The President that Reagan elevated to “commander in chief”? Hardly.
    Robert Gates made it crystal clear what his conditions were to continue as Sect. of Defense in his speech at Carnegie.
    http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/1028_transcrip_gates_checked.pdf
    Just as in Pakistan, power does not emanate clearly through linear lines of command. Power is essentially a probability vector, with real world probabilities associated with any desired attempt to manifest ones will in regards to any one desired outcome in the bundle. The “Presidency” lost control of the military in the US, as in Pakistan, decades ago.
    The condition I consider most important in the ones demanded by Robert Gates was continuation of the US “full spectrum dominance”, with nuclear weapons at the apex. Thus while many saw the Obama Prague speech as one suggesting a reduction in the role of nuclear weapons, those of us with long experience in this area saw it opposite- the speech was an assurance to the military establishment to INCREASE military expenditures, especially in regards to nuclear weapons. Thus Obama proposed an unprecedented increase in the NNSA budget, and here at Los Alamos recommended a new nuclear bomb factory at a scale which dwarfs previous capital expenditures, much larger than any other previous capital improvement project, in New Mexico, approaching the scale of ALL New Mexico interstate highway expenditures in the aggregate.
    To change this will require an immense sustained effort on the part of American citizens. Sunday’s NYTimes editorial entitled ” “Congress defends the Big Guys”, detailing the way in which “financial reform is merely a smokescreen for “business as usual” and how our elected representatives are adding clauses to essentially negate the positives in the financial regulatory reform bill (Sen. Dodd’s proposal to require a 5% ownership stake as a condition of shareholder corporate board nominations is the sort of thing that is rampant).
    How many Americans know that WWII was originally referred to as the “phony war”? That when FDR asked Churchill what to call the war, Winston recommended the unnecessary war? That the military estimates of 46,000 American lives lost was morphed to “over a million” by a propaganda effort led by American Junior Heritage Foundation to indoctrinate American students with this myth, that when the US had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons General David Jones, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before Congress that mutual shared destruction (MAD) was not US policy saying:
    I think it is a very dangerous strategy. It is not the strategy that we are implementing today within the military… I do not subscribe to the idea that we ever had it as our basic strategy”.
    The real US strategy was given by George Kennan in 1948:
    “We have fifty percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population….In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity….We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world benefaction….We should cease to talk about vague…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

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  82. jjm says:

    Explains why the war is not going well–this general with deep
    animus against the administration is running it.
    Court martial?

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  83. Dan Kervick says:

    With acknowledgments to those noted national security thinkers Tommy James and the Shondells, my take on McChrystal’s pitch to Obama:
    Look over Helmand; what do you see?
    The sun is a-risin’, most definitely!
    A new day is comin’ – people are changin’;
    Ain’t it beautiful: McChrystal blue persuasion.
    Kandahar

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  84. Cee says:

    I’m surprised that he wasn’t fired last year for calling Afghanistan Chaos-tan.
    I happen to agree with him on that one.

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  85. NikkiS says:

    Steve,
    Please tell me how the Runaway General gets paid.
    How does his current military position compensate him for military and diplomatic decisions he’s been assigned to do? Is it a contract of sorts he signs?
    And how is his overall pay affected if he’s fired? Won’t he still be pulling down a whopping general’s military salary?
    Lastly, how did such an insubordinate climb the lofty military ranks to be eligible for such a position? Are there no job reviews along the way?

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  86. anirprof says:

    Steve,
    100% right. Not only was McChrystal insubordinate but the RS article also has him profanely disparaging NATO allies and talking about how much he hates the alliance management side of his job. To do those things publicly is simply untenable for a senior NATO commander of the highest profile (and most controversial) mission in the alliances history.
    That being said, I predict he does not get fired. The fact that I read the White House that way is a bad sign for the White House.

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  87. DonS says:

    In the current political climate this will be a test of whether the majority of elected officials back civilian control of the military, and actually of government. If republicans, who have supported the Afghan war make an issue out of firing McChrystal, it will be a totally, unprincipled political move to weaken Obama.
    At this point McChrystal is insubordinate. If he garners strong political support he becomes a surrogate for virtual coup; whether he remains just a symbol for coup or it’s functionary is too early to say.
    McChrystal at this point has sought to walk back his criticism. If he is not successful in that, takes reassignment, retires or whatever, the danger is that it will escalate. A big question, which someone may know the answer to is, politicians aside, how much support does McChrystal have among the officer corps, especially the higher ups?

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  88. Dan Kervick says:

    Apart from this guy’s proclivity for playing the press angles against his superiors, about which he received a fair rebuke and warning once before, his mission in Afghanistan is a clear failure. His political assessments of conditions in Afghanistan, which are vital to the counterinsurgency strategy they are pursuing, and his estimates of time frames and troop needs have proven to be woefully inaccurate and overly-optimistic.
    His predecessors did no better. We have seen almost a decade of war in one overrated end-of-the world country, following a mission whose essential purpose was accomplished after a couple of months in 2001. The Pentagon and two administrations have been paddling up Clueless Creek since then.

    Reply

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