Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why General McChrystal must be replaced

A profile of the general, in Rolling Stone, will likely mark the end of the military career of General Stanley A. McChrystal.

As it should.

This is not about Mr. Obama. Good heavens, one can agree with General McChrystal that the White House is staffed by "wimps" and still realize that McChrystal, in uniform, serving at the pleasure of the President of the United States, has no business voicing that opinion. Civilian control of the military is just too important to America -- too important to America's past, present, and future -- to allow General McChrystal to remain in command.

The story about the linked Rolling Stone story is that McChrystal was to be profiled by the author in connection with the general's appearance at a Paris dinner. Generals sometimes have to go to fancy dinners, even when they have a surge operation to run. The plan was that the author, Michael Hastings, would go his way afterward and McChrystal and his staff would return to Afghanistan and the war. But Mother Nature had other ideas. McChrystal, his party, and Hastings were all grounded by the volcano in Iceland and forced to spend additional time together. Some of the more imprudent quotes were apparently gathered at a much less formal outing than the Paris dinner, at an Irish pub in Berlin, for example. According to this MSNBC post, Hastings' two days with the general turned into a month -- and, in that time, McChrystal and his staff (particularly his staff) seem to have 'let their hair down' a bit in Hastings' hearing.

They should have known better.

In the Civil War, General William T. Sherman (among others) wanted to shoot all reporters as spies, saboteurs and traitors. It should be embedded in the military DNA that no good comes of talking frankly to the press.

It is not news that McChrystal and his staff have no great affection for the Obama administration (though, ironically, Hastings reports, McChrystal claims to have voted for the man). But the officer in uniform has an obligation to his country and to the troops he leads to keep his trap shut. He can unleash all of his political opinions in a memoir -- after he resigns.

In theory, Mr. Obama can merely dress McChrystal down today, when the two are scheduled to meet. He can agree to accept his apology and they can both move on. But Mr. Obama should only do this if he is absolutely convinced that no other officer in the U.S. Army can do what General McChrystal was ordered to do in Afghanistan... and, if that's really the case, things are much worse than we know.

No, General McChrystal must go.

Aside to no one in particular: I remember when Rolling Stone could make or break records -- not four-star generals.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

what was he THINKING??? seriously, the man must have some mental issues to have done this. when we were in the military we were told, under orders, not to discuss politics or say negative things and we were there in the CARTER years!!! holy smokes curmy, he has to go.

smiles, bee