Shortly after President Obama assumed the Commander-in-Chief duties, he retired the existing commanding general in Afghanistan and hand-picked his successor: General Stanley McChrystal. McChystal was always known as a brash and outspoken military man, an expert in counterinsurgency, greatly respected by the troops under his command, and as having little patience for fools.
His requirement to have to answer to Obama, then, was a trainwreck waiting to happen.
Last year, McChrystal made no secret of his desire to have as many as 80,000 additional troops to press the fight in Afghanistan. He went to the press to state that objective and to dismiss those, like VP Joe Biden, who opposed any kind of surge.
That outspokenness got him into trouble: Obama summoned him aboard Air Force One in Europe and dressed him down a bit. And while McChrystal was right on policy (never commit militarily to an operation without committing overwhelming force and having a clear plan), he was wrong to go public with his troop level requests, and his concerns and reservations.
Today we’ve got another trainwreck smash-up.
McChrystal is being recalled to the White House to meet with Obama tomorrow to explain disrespectful comments he and his aides made to Rolling Stone magazine about Obama, Biden, other top national security officials, and the war strategy. Once again, McChrystal is right on policy (Obama is a destructive, disengaged, uninterested fool whose withdrawal timetable and ridiculous hamstringing rules of engaement are costing us lives and progress), but he was wrong to go public with that criticism.
Obama will decide if he’s Harry Truman and McChrystal is Douglas MacArthur.
But there are 2 big points to consider as this story unfolds:
1. McChyrstal is a four star general, graduate of West Point, has extensive combat experience and a chest full of medals. In other words, he knows what he’s doing. This was NOT a mistake. These comments were not “off the cuff” or limited to just one or two flippant remarks. And the interview was deliberately given to far-Left, anti-war Rolling Stone. None of this was a coincidence.
That can only mean one thing: that McChrystal is playing a game of chicken with Obama. He was daring Obama to respond. Obama runs a huge risk if he fires him. If the war goes under, it’ll be Obama’s fault for firing an insubordinate and prickly but effective general. If he doesn’t fire him, he may look weak and McChrystal will likely feel freer to do what he needs to do to win on the battlefield. Either way: McChrystal has made his point.
2. Many are asking today: Does Obama still have the necessary trust and confidence in McChrystal? I think the more appropriate and important question is: Does McChrystal have ANY trust and confidence in the Commander-in-Chief?
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