Washington Post – Why McCrystal should stay
The author starts with a fairly obvious point
Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal exercised poor judgment in making disparaging remarks about several Obama administration officials to a reporter from Rolling Stone and in allowing members of his staff to make still more. It’s not clear that the general is guilty of insubordination; negative comments about the president and vice president in the article are attributed to unnamed members of his staff.
in addition I’m not sure that describing the President as distracted or unprepared for a meeting or expressing frustration about the decision making process really constitutes insubordination or that it even falls into the category of contempt towards officials. A case for contemptuous words against the Vice President by the staff probably could be made, for the “Bite Me” comment.
The piece then lists 3 reasons why McChrystal should stay –
1. He is the architect of the strategy that the administration has bought on to.
2. He has the best relations with the Afghans and Pakistanis
3. The fact that there is this deep seated feeling of contempt and frustration is the administrations fault not McChrystal’s.
Well we all know 3 won’t fly – Obama won’t take responsibility for leaving the toilet seat up much less an incoherent policy in Afghanistan. If possible he will blame Bush, if not McChrystal gets the blame. 1 isn’t really a valid reason either. Yes, McChrystal devised the current strategy, that doesn’t mean someone else can’t execute it, or even possibly improve it. That leaves 2 as the best reason of the three offered and I think it’s a valid reason, but is it enough? Maybe for the short term, but you can bet if that is the reason McChrystal is kept it will not be enough to save him for any longer that it takes for the administration to think up a reason he absolutely has to go. Maybe a “promotion” to a job that gives him little authority and zero respect.
In the course of writing this I re-read the Rolling Stones article and have come to the conclusion that this was a hatchet piece. The most negative expressions of feelings towards the administration don’t even come from McChrystal or his staff; they are expressed by the writer and are used in his criticism of McChrystal as a power hungry, out of control, General who has a flawed Afghan strategy.
Michael Hanlon also argues for retaining McChrystal in a USA Today piece, the reasoning is essentially the same as in the Washington Post.
I picked this up from the NY Times –
One administration official described Mr. Obama as being particularly furious at a McChrystal aide’s characterization of him as not seeming “very engaged” during their first White House meeting.
That is completely understandable, a third persons subjective opinion on whether or not you were engaged in a conversation is a perfectly fine reason to be pissed at the person you were engaged in the conversation with, besides I’m sure Obama was at least as engaged in that conversation as he has been in resolving the Gulf oil spill in between rounds of golf.
In a rational world, the President, who wouldn’t be a child who throws a temper tantrum whenever his feelings get hurt, would read this article and say “We have a problem in Afghanistan, let’s get it fixed” instead of thinking about firing McChrystal.