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June 23, 2010

Comments

Well said, Sebastian.

I'm not holding my breath until MoveOn.org lambasts Obama for this BetrayUs move.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Holbrooke, for example, really does act like a loose cannon--disrupting long term strategies.

From what I've heard from folks on the inside, this is a fair indictment.

what bobbyp said

I would have let him stay if he was willing to (1) make a sincere and contrite public apology, and (2) mend his ways, with said mending to be trusted but verified.

Short of that, he had to go. It's irrelevant as to whether he is right, wrong, or indifferent in the criticism he expresses. Military officers can't criticize executive officials like that period.

Great! Now that he's not in charge of one of our major wars, maybe his command of a unit in Iraq in which torture was routine will get another look.

Hey, I can dream...

That whole team -- Holbrooke, Eikenberry, Jones -- has had ego issues for years, as has McChrystal himself. But that's no excuse. It is entirely unprofessional to allow coworkers to disparage higher ups in the command structure -- to a reporter of all people!

I blame it on the Bud Lite.

Yeah. I think this absolutely had to happen. There are the chain of command/civilian control issues. There is the matter of idiotic recklessness, and a staff who he says are willing to die for him, but apparently do not have the sense to keep their mouths shut for him. (WTF?) There is the little matter of his having thrown the mission off, though I think Obama managed to minimize that today; and of his having done so for such a stupid reason. (It reminds me of Clinton being willing to wreck the last year or two of his Presidency for the sake of Monica Lewinsky, for which I will never forgive him.) There's the part where he disses our allies, about which Politico says:

"The passage that really torqued the president, advisers say, was McChrystal’s reported contempt for U.S. allies in Afghanistan – especially the French – illustrated in the story by McChrystal’s reluctance to meet a senior official in Paris, a dinner appointment one McChrystal aide called “gay.”

Obama, the administration official said, was astounded and alarmed by “the effect it would have on the allies” in Afghanistan, who have been asked to shed blood and “who will be asked to do more” if the U.S. is to begin pulling out by July 2011."

There are so many things wrong with what he and his people said. It's just unfathomable to me that someone could be so dumb.

As a partial answer to wondering how these things could have gotten said, as it has obliquely pointed outby Debbie above, the Iceland volcano eruption changed what was a 2 day talk into a 2 week talk. That makes it a bit more understandable from a human perspective.

Hilzoy: There are so many things wrong with what he and his people said. It's just unfathomable to me that someone could be so dumb.

Unless he wanted to get fired by Obama before he became the last general in charge of a totally lost war, and thus set himself up for a political career with the Republicans.

Hey, I've been paranoid before and I've been right...

I'm with Jes. He's put himself in a great position. Now he can dodge all the responsiblity while claiming that all failures in the future are Obama's fault for firing him. Maybe he can get a gig as a pundit or a politician.

What is it about volcanoes, hurricanes, and gigantic oil spills that cause dumb#sses to say the things they do.

I can't wait until the big asteroid is about an hour away from hitting Kansas -- I want a camera and microphone on every nacho as*hat in the country for that last hour of entertainment.

I'm with Jes too. With the "gay" comment, I'd say McCrystal will be running for high Republican office soon -- probably in fatigues to fool Moe Lane into thinking Hitler is near defeat.

I'd expect several of McCrystal's aides to win seats in the House as well.

This is all pure stupidity mainlined into America's throbbing stupid artery.

"nacho"????

Wait until the crackers find that out.

McCrystal's illegal alien status might derail his candicacy.

But I doubt it, if he remains macho enough.

I blame it on the Bud Lite.

Nobody made him drink it.

Personally I don't think his comments were some kind of triple bank shot to get himself fired. Folks say he's obviously smart and so wouldn't do something so stupid unintentionally.

Really smart people, even really smart people in positions of great responsibility, do dumb stuff all the time, like every single day.

His comments put Obama in a very difficult position and could easily have a large and negative effect on his (McChrystal's) mission. The apology was a good thing, but you can't unring the bell.

Is this sufficient reason to dismiss Gates as well? This is the kind of political mess that I would expect my Sec of Defense to keep from happening. In short, "Why am I hearing that McChrystal and staff have this attitude towards their civilian bosses from Rolling Stone instead of from you?"

About a decade ago, our family toured the Pentagon and found what could only be called a shrine to the most insolent general ever, Douglas MacArthur. I hope the shrine is gone and that this reminds them who runs the show, for better or worse.

Maybe he wanted out and used the interview to get out?

I agree with Russell. The overwhelming consensus is that McChrystal had to go. What he said, and tolerated in his subordinates, was stupid. As it happens, almost all of us say and do stupid things. However, this episode raises a much larger question: at what point does a serving member of the armed forces face less than honorable discharge or some other sanction for publicly criticizing our civilian leadership? There is a free speech issue underlying all of this. Does a private who spouts off for or against a president merit some kind of sanction? A major? Do we substantively analyze what is said and run it through some kind of acceptability meter? Who programs the meter?

this episode raises a much larger question

If I'm not mistaken, the range of political speech you can engage in while on active duty is limited somewhat by the UCMJ.

So, I guess the UCMJ programs the meter.

In this particular case I don't see the value in busting McChrystal down in rank or booting him out with a dishonorable discharge.

IMVHO the really necessary points Obama needed to make here were (a) I'm the boss, and (b) the mission is more important than the personalities involved.

Again IMVHO, replacing McChrystal with Petraeus made both points clearly and unambiguously, without indulging in personal "gotchas" or stupid, excessive, and unnecessary demonstrations of authority.

McChrystal compromised his ability to be effective, Obama moved him out. 'Nuff said.

McTex: Shouldn't it follow military protocol?

If I'm not mistaken, the POTUS is the CINC of the armed forces, and is due the respect of "the" commanding officer of everyone in the armed services.

McChrystal was to a degree on probation already since at least his attempts to preempt Obama's decision on the Afghanistan strategy.
I doubt that he would have a chance in GOP primaries for the time being. For that mere hints of homophobia are not sufficient anymore. Where are the tapes that show him to be a rabid (and racist) religious crusader. He also seems to have avoided to include Hillary Clinton in his bashing of the civilian leadership. No rants against females in the military either to my knowledge (and what are his views on evolution and abortion?). Not to forget the main disqualification: no true professional will come anywhere near the nomination (faux experts and professional demagogues are something else).

According to a Marc AMbinder piece I read somewhere McCrystal is a liberal on social issues and voted for Obama.

FWTW.

Well, whatever. I just wish we'd get out of Afghanistan under somebody's leadership..

This is the worst case of Earl Butz Disease I've seen in over thirty years. What is it about being interviewed by Rolling Stone that makes people so dumb?

If I'm not mistaken, the POTUS is the CINC of the armed forces, and is due the respect of "the" commanding officer of everyone in the armed services.

This isn't a very clear standard for when someone is out of bounds. Further, there are first amendment issues here as well. We want our generals saying something when a president comes up with a really stupid idea, don't we? This question has no relationship to McChrystal's foolishness.

I think there are official channels for telling a superior that his idea has room for improvement. If that does not work, then it is either "shut up and do what you are told!" or "Mister I quit!". We are not talking about split second decisions or lowly grunts here but grand strategy and high command.

McKinney: We want our generals saying something when a president comes up with a really stupid idea, don't we?

Like invading Afghanistan? Or invading Iraq? Or continually claiming in public that the war was/would soon be "won"?

Yeah. It would be nice if generals had a means of feeding back to the high command that while of course they'll attempt it if they are given a lawful order to do so, it's bloody impossible and will just get a lot of US troops killed for nothing.

And in fact, they do, and when a four-star general used the appropriate channels to give his entirely appropriate and politely-phrased views in opposition to the President's strategy, everyone knows what happened to him.

This right-wing blog comparing Shinseki to McChrystal is now the second link for Shinseki on a googlesearch. It compares reactions to Shinseki's response to a question on policy at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, to reactions to McChrystal's interview in Rolling Stone, and asserts "the left" supported Shinseki because he was criticizing Bush and oppose McChrystal because he was criticizing Obama.

Shinseki was proved depressingly right, of course, and for all I know McChrystal may be proved depressingly right as well by 2017. But what happened to Shinseki after he gave his military opinion on policy, in an official context, when he was asked to give it, was plainly a warning to other generals that they'd better not give their true military opinions even when asked in an official context - not if their opinions go against administrative policy.

If McChrystal had followed Shinseki's example, the discussion would likely look different. The same if Shinseki had not given his criticism in the appropriate way (as he did) but in the derogatory fashion of Gen.McC.

If I'm not mistaken, the range of political speech you can engage in while on active duty is limited somewhat by the UCMJ.

Yep. This is nearly a textbook violation of UCMJ Article 88. Mind you, it wouldn't apply to McChrystal if he weren't a commissioned officer, but they're held to higher standards.

I was in a conversation with some Army JAG Corps personnel this week following McChrystal's fall, and they were quite clear about this not even vaguely being defensible on free speech grounds. It was kind disturbing to hear the personnel in question saying his actions were indefensible in spite of their particular dislike of civilian control of the military, but even in that context they were emphatic that he shouldn't have done what he did, and should be very happy if he doesn't find himself in front of a court-martial because of it.

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