Obama right to sack blathering general

Following President Barack Obama’s firing on Wednesday of four-star Army General Stanley McChrystal, many pundits, including on Capitol Hill, were quick to praise the officer’s career and performance in Afghanistan, where he was the top NATO commander, and his prior service in Iraq.  The fact is, McChrystal displayed grossly poor judgment in his remarks to Rolling Stone magazine that led to his firing from the Afghanistan command.  Indeed, beyond the serious lapse in judgment represented by McChrystal even granting such a series of interviews in the first place, the controversy raises legitimate questions of why our military leaders are going around blathering to the media.

Military policy is to be set by our civilian leaders — the president, the secretary of defense, and others in an administration.  That includes defending and explaining those policies to the media and to others.  These are not responsibilities to be exercised by military officers themselves; they do so at their own peril, as McChrystal found out this week. 

The question is, why are top military officers even getting themselves into these jams in the first place?  Are officers granting  interviews and extended media access to their activities simply to burnish their own image or chances for promotion; or to ingratiate themselves to particular congressional leaders?  Are they being impliedly or quietly urged to do so by administration officials who are themselves uncomfortable with or unsuccessful at defending their own muddled policies, such as those underlying U.S. operations in Afghanistan?  If so, military leaders ought to resist such overtures, even if it means risk to their own careers.  If they are granting interviews for more mundane purposes such as ego or self-promotion, shame on them; and for such character flaws, they ought to be disciplined if not fired.

The bottom line here is that the president did the right thing in relieving McChrystal of his command based on the stupid remarks he made in a series of interviews that should never have been granted and which itself reflected poorly on his judgment.  But the broader questions of how and why our military leaders are delving into policy discussions with the media in the first place, ought to be the subject of some hard questions levelled at our military and civilian leaders by the Congress.

90 comments Add your comment

TheOne&Only

June 24th, 2010
10:22 am

Let me simplify my message to D.C.:

Stop promoting endless war, or the the Anerican people are going to come back and bite you.

Navy Brat

June 24th, 2010
10:26 am

There are a lot of rambling idiots in here that have no clue about the UCMJ. Your ideologies are meaningless and rather moot here. Let’s replace Obama with Bush I and II, Regan, Clinton, Nixon, TRUMAN, LBJ, etc. The American president is the American president regardless of which party he belongs to and we have RULES AND REGULATIONS that we are to adhere to. These are rules we’ve learned from basic training. If you have never served you won’t understand because you’re probably blinded by political ideology.

neo-Carlinist

June 24th, 2010
10:34 am

uncommon sense, easy on the mawkish assessment of the consequences of “dissent” war. people get killed all the time in war. you refer to the “bosses” and “jobs” but then argue that Sunday AM talk shows are not combat? and you don’t know how McChrystal treats his charges, or responds to criticism (read the article, he discusses the frustration of enlisted men who challenged the rules of engagement). aside from the tobacco companies, there isn’t a corporation in the US (well, maybe Blackwater) with the “job” of finding and killing people.

Just Another Female Veteran

June 24th, 2010
10:35 am

I think the main point is being overlooked here. How effective was McChrystal at succeffully implementing his mission?

He demonstrated public disdasin and opposition to the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, the State Department high representative Richard Holbrooke, the national security adviser and the vice president. How is it even possible they would actually implement a counterinsurgency strategy with that level of disconnect and friction between the military and civilian authorities? If McChrystal and his team are so contemptuous of these other people whose support is absolutely CRITICAL to the success of the mission, then he had to be failing at his mission. His getting fired is not about his manners or whether or not he’s a good warrior, this is about McCrystal’s ability to effectively execute the task he’s been asked to execute.

Scout

June 24th, 2010
10:37 am

Navy Brat:

Just to “clarify” – there are many military orders that can (and should) be disobeyed:

Any that are immoral, unethical or illegal.

I have been in positions where I had to make those decisions. You have to live with yourself.

Scout
India Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines
Vietnam (1967-68)

neo-Carlinist

June 24th, 2010
10:42 am

Navy Brat, So what do you (we) do when “ideology” drives rules and regulations (UCMJ, rules of engagement, etc.)? You sound like a freaking lawyer.

Rupert Murdoch

June 24th, 2010
10:43 am

I’m moving Beck to 7pm, the 5:00 spot is all the general’s if he’ll have it :-)

Scout

June 24th, 2010
10:47 am

Navy Brat, et al:

Here is just one example:

You are a platoon commander in Afghanistan and you have been sent to patrol a certain mountain valley. On the way you must pass “by” a village. You have been “ordered” not to use your supporting arms (i.e., mortars) in a populated area to prevent civilian casualties.

As you pass the village you are ambushed by a much larger enemy force. They are using direct as well as “indirect” (mortars) fire and your platoon is pinned down. Marines are dying all around you. Your direct fire (rifle fire) cannot reach the ambusers behind the village wall. You are at the point of taking so many casualties that the enemy will soon be able to over-run your position with their superior strength.

1) You can obey your orders and not use your mortar fire to break the ambush.
2) You can use your mortars and save as many of your men as possible.

jj

June 24th, 2010
10:48 am

Maybe it’s as simple as the General saw no way to win this war and just wanted out. And on his way out he said what was on his mind knowing full well the consequences

TheOne&Only

June 24th, 2010
10:52 am

Let me simplify my message to D.C.:

Stop promoting endless war, or the the American people are going to come back and bite you.

mmmmmmmmmmmm….. whatever. Go ahead and let amnesty be the way that you try to win votes. You will not win mine. I’ve already decided how I will vote and it may not be to your liking.

What? You don’t like that? Then do your job, President Obama, and secure the borders. I want all illegals gone. No amnesty, sir. Come back when you can, and be processed legally. I also do not want a higher level of legal immigrant at this time. We are hurting job-wise.

Let me tell you about my history. I worked in the oil fields as a roustabout, and then in construction, only to see that I could not compete with the illegals. Yep, they took my job. So, I did not sit on my dairy air and wait for a job to find me. I utilized what I had learned in the military, and got into electronics.

I got into not only electronics, but computers and networking as well, obtaining many certifications along the way (that I studied long for). And then, my career got outsourced to H1Bs and shipped overseas. So, if you want to wonder why I am angry, now you know.

Here I sit, unemployed, and not wanting to be employed until YOU FU(KERS fix it. And until then, I will expose everything that this government has done to cause the problem, and I have no wish to go back to school or contribute my wealth to this society until it is made clear that people who graduate with a degree are worth what they have been sold. If you only knew my intellect, it would all be clear, but I am a nobody.

I’m sorry, this was about Gen. McChrystal and how bad a guy he supposedly is.

dave

June 24th, 2010
11:05 am

Hotlanta – While I agree that the President had no choice but to relieve Gen McChrystal, if you really think that the General was intimidated by Barry, you’ve never met a real warrior. Don’t care who you are, by the time you’ve made it that far up the chain-of-command you’ve had your butt chewed by experts. I’m sure our beloved leader had a much harder time looking the General in the eye than Gen McChrystal had looking back.

Jefferson

June 24th, 2010
11:29 am

Take his stars and make an example of him.

TheOne&Only

June 24th, 2010
11:41 am

Jefferson : “Take his stars and make an example of him.”

Why? What has he done wrong? And please, be specific.

“Make an example of him”…pffff Who are you? You don’t know much do you?

I’ll stand by McChrystal even if it may not be to his benefit (what do I know?)

Will

June 24th, 2010
11:49 am

Bob, lets compare a general’s job to that of a lawyer. I do not know much about either but I wll allow common sense to guide me.

The General can use force as sees it but as the civilian electors feel it should be done. Do you remember the directives given to the general by the whitehouse in engaging the enemy?

The lawyer can not use the ability to “object” in witness testifying.
Ok is that sound?

Now would that crimple or hamper the lawyers ability to execute a fair defense. This could go on and on.

Ed

June 24th, 2010
12:06 pm

Bob,
I concur with the Presidents actions with respect to General McChrystal. The fact that this discussion is occuring at all is proof enough that McChrystal had to step aside.

However, on the subject of Military leaders in the press, this was a crucial discussion during my War College Days. This century has transformed our media into a battle ground in ways that would not have been envisioned a few years ago. Thus, it is impossible to impact the opinions of millions of local citizens without addressing the many international media outlets that are available. Our adversaries are waging their own media campaign at the same time.

In an insurgency, the difference between war and politics is indistinguishable. Gone are the Clausewitzian days of “War is a continuation of Policy by other means”. Today our adversaries freely mix the two concepts into a toxic morass.

The problem is that you cannot shape local politics in a foreign country without shaping the debate in the international media and you cannot shape the debate in the international media without impacting domestic politics.

I don’t know what General McChrystal was trying to accomplish with his comments but clearly they did not work and should not have been made. However, as for Generals in the press, I’d be open to a longer and more comprehensive discussion.

joan

June 24th, 2010
1:02 pm

Clearly it won’t matter what any of us nobodies think. This administration, like many before it, will stumble along and hopefully won’t get the world too out of wack. About why it doesn’t secure the borders–the answer is simply, those illegals represent future democrat voters, because they won’t be paying taxes, or if they do, it will be minimal, and their taxes will never cover the costs the run up in health care and education. so, yep, democrat voters. That is why Obama loves them. He is even now trying to protect their employment benefits.

Obama is a pile of dung

June 24th, 2010
1:16 pm

Obama appointed a Bush appointed General to Afghanistan.

Bush is officially smarter than Obama.

LOLOL!!!!!!

interested observer

June 24th, 2010
1:26 pm

TheOne&Only: glad to hear you don’t sit on your dairy air, because that’s an incomprehensible image. Sort of like your logic.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 24th, 2010
1:30 pm

Tennessee white trash Stanley McChrystal’s getting a second star from his “good buddy,” the 9/11-committing Closet-Queen-in-Chief, draft-dodger George W. Bush, for assassinating “true believer” Pat Tillman “with deniability,” went to his head surrounded by a coterie of sublimating psychopaths and deviant sycophants serving false war for fascist plutocracy.

The insubordination pseudo-West Pointer McChrystal’s subordinates demonstrated in the command environment he engendered was gossipy, self-aggrandizing, over-compensating chit-chat of “macho” gay killers.

May any seeking righteousness, for, by, and of, the People’s servant, President Obama, ensure we truly be rid of McChrystal, Bush, Cheney, and their ilk, unlike Nixon, GHW Bush, and E.Howard Hunt at Dealey Plaza and all the evil they were able to effect.

G-d is not mocked.

Death for Treason

hotlanta

June 24th, 2010
1:38 pm

Dave his correct name is President Barak Obama. It is just amazing how folks go to extremes to disrepect him but calls “Tricky Dick”, President Nixon all day long. What makes you think that he is afraid or intimidated by anyone. He showed that when he was putting the Republicans in check at their own televised meeting. It is just amazing we got all kinds of polls that are being taken to rate his performance and no one has ever contact myself nor my freinds. It is amazing how some of these same people who drapes themselves with the American Flag and always stand tall for America would not go to war. Naw they let other folks do it for them while they reap the benefits.

Ayn Rand was right

June 24th, 2010
1:41 pm

Unfortunately our elected representatives cannot be held to the same standards as our military personnel.

Cow Manure > Barry Obama

June 24th, 2010
2:21 pm

Will Jones FEARS Kim Peterson

hotlanta FEARS Education

Bob Barr FEARS Alimony

Sandra

June 24th, 2010
2:29 pm

I find it very interestig in reading all this President Obama bashing that 1) you forget the strategy was McChrystal’s vision that the President bought into, 2) there is the military code of justice that all soldiers must abide by, and 3) McChrystal clearly didn’t abide by the rules.

You let your pure hate of anything the President does (whether’s it a good thing or bad thing) overrule any common sense that you might have once possessed. I was never a huge fan of President Bush, but I never went around calling him names. In my mind, your major name callling is both juvenile and shows an absolute lack of decency. You have clearly set different standards for the current president than you have ever set for others. Maybe you should question your own motives and values.

Nostradamus

June 24th, 2010
2:48 pm

Barack H. Obama will go down in history as the first-ever sitting U.S. President to go to prison, just where it belongs.

Barack H. Obama will eventually make the worthless imbecile known George W. Bush look moderately intelligent by comparison.

dave

June 24th, 2010
2:56 pm

hotlanta, make a deal you can keep using “tricky dick” and I’ll keep calling him barry, deal? So tell me which war did you fight in? And if you want to know which one I did, I’d be happy to tell you.

Rose

June 24th, 2010
3:19 pm

Not having served in the armed forces, but raised by a career officer in the Air Force, a brother who served in Vietnam, a brother-in-law who is currently in Iraq for the second time and his son, a C-17 cargo pilot in the Air Force, one thing is very clear – the military is not a democracy. People have opinions, but rank has it’s privileges. The President outranks anyone in the military, he’s the commander in chief – the end. The military is a different society and meant to be so.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

June 24th, 2010
3:26 pm

Rush had a funny argument in his second hour. Short version: Stan McChrystal voted for Obama because McChrystal himself is a free-thinking leftist. McChrystal allowed Rolling Stone access thinking RS was his sort of people. RS did its usual hit job. Obama has to replace the undisciplined leftist with a known, disciplined conservative, as Obama cannot trust a leftist on anything that matters.

David S

June 24th, 2010
3:36 pm

He was sacked for telling the truth. The first casualty in war is the truth, and what is dead is never to be revealed.

The wars are a failure. They have never been about american safety, but about promoting the interests of the ruling elites and their friends in the military industrial complex. Oh yeah, and to secure the pipeline through Afghanistan for Shell. Oh, and of course lets not forget promoting the interests of Israel above and beyond the interests or safety of the american people or its military.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 24th, 2010
4:03 pm

Transparent whitetrash McChrystal never voted for Barack Obama.

McChrystal, nominally a graduate of the USMA, is a proven liar having overseen the assassination of Pat Tillman, signing off on a phony Silver Star for the former NFL-player, and covering-up the treason through five official “investigations,” for which he was awarded a second star by the Hitler’s banker’s draft-dodging, closet-queen grandson.

He is a fraud and a traitor, having provided those looking for “agents” with his psychopathic, treasonous “tendency” in an essay at West Point in which he assassinates the POTUS.

Those who think the three rounds in Pat Tillman’s forehead grouped within a circle made by a half-dollar was an “accident” are the same ones gullible enough to think cracker trash like McChrystal voted for America’s first Black president.

Good for Obama’s canning him. Now may he hang for treason along with Bush and Cheney, at the Navy Yard.

Justice for Pat Tillman
Death for Treason

Annuit Coeptis

voter

June 24th, 2010
4:27 pm

America right to sack blathering President

x-usaf(ss)

June 24th, 2010
4:43 pm

Truman fired McArthur and we’re still fighting that war..did anyone notice mcchrystal resigned but
petraeus (his boss) got demoted big time!

dave

June 24th, 2010
4:46 pm

Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis – you forgot the part of about us “right wing haters.” It would have fit right in with the rest of your post.

kim

June 24th, 2010
5:07 pm

He should have been fired. His job is to follow the orders of the Commander in Chief, not make policy. If he doesn’t agree, he should step down.

Real Athens

June 24th, 2010
5:49 pm

All those thinking that Stanley McChrystal was the second coming of George S. Patton should get their heads out of their collective A$$es. Read Sebastian Junger’s “WAR” or any of the columns by Matthew Green who have actually been to or are in Afghanistan. I know, you might have to miss a couple episodes of ‘Dancing with the Stars” but you at least won’t be regarded as an ignoramus when you try to speak or write about something you obviously have little knowledge about.

The McChrystal strategy or or “Doctrine” was a high-risk strategy that centered on the idea that the west’s best chance of containing the Taliban was winning over the locals, even if it meant greater risks and casualties for his troops. He’d lost the confidence of his own troops who were on the ground as the casualties and wounded numbers continue to escalate.

Me? If you’re going to go to war, I like my strategies a little more Machiavellian.

Chicken N Waffles

June 24th, 2010
7:53 pm

“It is just amazing we got all kinds of polls that are being taken to rate his performance and no one has ever contact myself nor my freinds.”

That’s because you don’t matter.

“Dave his correct name is President Barak Obama.”

No, his correct name is Barak Hussein Obama.

FYT

“What makes you think that he is afraid or intimidated by anyone. ”

When he gives in to Iran, NK, Russia, China etc…… he is a little girl.

“He showed that when he was putting the Republicans in check at their own televised meeting. ”

That MUST be why the GOP is set to win in November.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 24th, 2010
8:50 pm

How appropriate: Waffling Chicken, a great name for the Gay Old Pervert party’s base: draft-dodging closet-queens and chickenhawks.

neo-Carlinist

June 24th, 2010
9:18 pm

Real Athens, your logic is facinating. I will be the first to admit, I have issues with the entire concept of counter-insurgency, because, well, the reasons there is an insurgency is THEY DON’T WANT US THERE. but, since Obama has decided Central Asia is the venue to make his bones with the (chicken)hawks and neo-cons, or the “give” to his “take” in Iraq, there has to be a plan. I don’t know that the much ballyhooed “COIN” doctrine is viable (see: first sentence), but it is better than carpet boming, Predator drones, and 150,000 “boots on the ground”. The problem is, with 150,000 boots on the ground and UAV drones flying around like some James Cameron flick (Terminator), you are never going to win any “hearts and minds”. AND, as I noted yesterday, I am of the opinion there are no “hearts” or “minds” to win in Central Asia. That said, there is plenty of lithium to win, so if we couch the war as “hunting/killing terrorists” McChrystal and his ilk is/was the guy. And, I really don’t care about soliders being in harm’s way. it’s part of the job description. Even so, I’d rather see mercenaries and Blackwater types doing the fighting, because like all wars, this war is about securing and protecting wealth, and not “freedom” or “terrorism” or “9/11″. our casulaties are rising because there are more of “us” in country. am I the only one who is doing the math? we’re spending a trillion dollars over there, giving the “bad guys” targets. we’re not killing terrorists, we’re cultivating them and exposing ourselves to increased terrorism.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 24th, 2010
9:50 pm

neo-Carlinist – good summary but the most expensive cost is America’s moral standing. “Annuit Coeptis” counts for Americans who actually believe in the Creator, G-d of the universe, upon Whose blessings Our Nation’s posterity relies.

Some of us still believe the Dream. Tillman did, as stupidly as I did in ‘68, but with his high-profile and reporters asking his opinion, 9/11-committing Bush had McChrystal snuff him. Societies in decay get mercenaries to do their “heavy lifting.” If the corrupt rich want to send us to die for their spiraling concentration of wealth without “suiting up” themselves, it’s time for expropriation of the false elite which assassinates our leaders and steals from the commonwealth.

I would rather fight, excising the identified cancer here, in obedience to the Creed and Oath as Americans for the next few hundred years, G-d willing, than to forsake our ancestors and all the sacrifices they underwent to get here and receive in covenant this Promised Land.

We cannot be the Republic and fail to hang Bush and Cheney. Empire and theft of lithium, oil, et al, in Afghanistan and Iraq, further enriching the same fascist plutocracy who sent us to die in Vietnam after killing Kennedy and King, and which now promotes illegal immigration to remove the threat represented by a strong Middle Class, rings the death knell for the American Dream. I’d rather provide tyrants’ blood as nourishment for the Liberty Tree, after due process of course.

Death for Treason…and treason is the only reason things aren’t any better.

Americus Jacket

June 28th, 2010
8:59 am

I actually agree that you cannot disrespect the President and keep your job if you want the job of General. But I think McCrystal should have been fired because he wanted to do the article in the first place. What was the purpose? Granting an interview with “all access” to a news source that is really not a “news source,” and is “anti war” also, does not sound like a choice made by someone I want to protect our soldiers and interests in this war.

BTW, for full disclosure, I am “pro-Iran” war and “anti-Afganistan.” I just think one was winnable and good for the region, and the other is unwinnable and will not make a difference in the region. Did we learn nothing when we saw the Russians invade Afganistan? Although I agreed we must punish the Taliban for creating an environment that helped “9-11″ to happen, are we really serious about creating a democratic country out of about 47 different warlord factions who will never get along? There are so many troubled spots in the world — North Korea, Iran, etc. — is it smart to spend so many of our resources on Afganistan?

OIFVet@USC

July 12th, 2010
6:28 pm

It was just “soldier talk.” It doesn’t go away. Privates to generals speak it. No president can escape it. Lincoln got used to it and continued to oversee the victorious generals who spoke out against him in more respectable papers than Rolling Stone. Obama needs to toughen up or let somebody else oversee the war.