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June 22, 2010

Spot On on Obama, McChrystal

Though I'm shocked at the source:

A scathing memo by Eikenberry describing Karzai as an unreliable partner was leaked to the press last fall. At a White House press briefing during Karzai’s visit to Washington last month, the ambassador pointedly refused to endorse the Afghan leader he must work with.

Biden, for his part, gave an interview to Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter in which he said that in July of next year “you are going to see a whole lot of [U.S. troops] moving out.” Yet as Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates tartly pointed out over the weekend, “that absolutely has not been decided.” Instead, Biden was pushing his personal version of the strategy Obama approved, which calls for the beginning of withdrawals next year, with the size and pace to be determined by conditions at that time.

Of course all of this was hunky dory when Biden and Eikenberry did it. I don't recall anyone screaming for them to be fired for insubordination. This, on the other hand, is devastating:

McChrystal may be at fault for expressing his frustrations to Rolling Stone. He is not at fault for the lack of coherence in the Afghan campaign or the continued feuding over strategy. That is Obama’s responsibility.

Like I keep saying, you can't lead from behind.

Posted by Cassandra at June 22, 2010 01:35 PM

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Comments

Of course all of this was hunky dory when Biden and Eikenberry did it. I don't recall anyone screaming for them to be fired for insubordination.

Point taken that this isn't the first time a subordinate has publicly argued with Obama, but I'm not really sure these are equivalent since there is a good reason why the military has laws to the effect of "Thou shalt not speak ill of the civilian leadership".

While the underlying substantive rot which causes a public policy fight from subordinates is the same, I do see why such from the military would be considered more grievous than from civilians.

This, to me, is the big point:

McChrystal may be at fault for expressing his frustrations to Rolling Stone. He is not at fault for the lack of coherence in the Afghan campaign or the continued feuding over strategy. That is Obama’s responsibility.

McChrystal deserves to be fired for expressing his frustrations (whether he does get fired or not, he still deserves it.

But the substance of those remarks do not go away simply because they ought not have been voiced.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 22, 2010 02:13 PM

I'd bet that Gen. McC agress with ya YAG.

Posted by: bthun at June 22, 2010 02:51 PM

I, too, blame Obama for this. Not for any BS about how the deadline compromised McChrystal's plan, though.

We've seen deadlines come and go for nine friggin' years now, one more missed deadline wouldn't have phased anyone at this point, especially if McChrystal's plan was showing positive signs of "success", whatever that means.

I blame Obama for choosing McChrystal in the first place. There were warning signs about him from the get-go.

Posted by: Craig at June 22, 2010 03:18 PM

Craig:

I don't think there is a single person in the military who thought the deadline was reasonable.

However, I agree that one more missed deadline would not have been a big deal. I think you're dead on there.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 22, 2010 03:36 PM

McChrystal deserves to be fired for expressing his frustrations (whether he does get fired or not, he still deserves it.

Agreed. Actions have consequences.

But the substance of those remarks do not go away simply because they ought not have been voiced.

Also agreed.

I have said many times that I distrust brave truth tellers who think they can break the rules and pay no penalty simply b/c they told the truth. I'm struggling here b/c I fear that individual justice and what's good for the war/our country may be two very different things.

That doesn't make me happy.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 22, 2010 03:40 PM

The Russians led from behind. Security battalions pushing the conscripts into action.

Since Obama's in love with socialism and Communism, why not emulate the True Traditions.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 22, 2010 04:22 PM

"That doesn't make me happy."
No M'lady, there is no happy in this story. Not for anyone.

Posted by: bthun at June 22, 2010 04:31 PM

That doesn't make me happy.

elections have consequences.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 22, 2010 04:33 PM

I blame Obama for choosing McChrystal in the first place. There were warning signs about him from the get-go.

Actually, there were warning signs about Obama from the get go.

Don't get things wrong now.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 22, 2010 04:35 PM

"McChrystal deserves to be fired for expressing his frustrations (whether he does get fired or not, he still deserves it)."

Agreed. But I'm willing to bet that McChrystal did that math before he granted the interview, and in his own mind he's already accepted the consequences. Sometimes there comes a point in an organization where groupthink becomes so impenetrable that there's only one way to fix it: you have to tell management exactly what you think of their stupid-assed ideas. Of course, you'd better have your next job lined up beforehand. But sometimes the only other option is to sit back and watch the organization fail. And in this case, that option is clearly not an option.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 22, 2010 05:06 PM

I blame Obama for choosing McChrystal in the first place. There were warning signs about him from the get-go.

And in a perverse twist: I don't. At least not for a lack of seeing the "warning signs" for this particular incident. I imagine the "warning signs" you are referring to, Craig, would be things like the Pat Tillman cover-up which are certainly negatives on McC's record (and could lead one to believe he should not have been hired for the job in the first place), they just aren't really warning signs that one day he was going to disparage his boss in public.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 22, 2010 05:19 PM

I don't know Dave. The meta text seems to be that this reporter wasn't granted a one-time interview but was rather with McC for quite a long time. It could simply be that he got too comfortable having him around and that he forgot that conversations with staff that would otherwise be private weren't quite so private anymore.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 22, 2010 05:22 PM

Hmm. Something to consider. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that happened to a military leader. I've never had the image of McChrystal as a passive-aggressive type, though. I've wondered for a while if he was the right man for this job, but given the circumstances he had to labor under, I wasn't sure I could fairly judge his performance.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 22, 2010 05:26 PM

McChrystal tried talking to Obama. But that's like BP talking to Obama. And BP gave money to Obama. Obama still treated them as peons.

That's just how Obama is.

All of you are simply peons and serfs to him. And if a baby somehow lives through an abortion, he'll make sure to kill it. That's just his thing.

You know.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 22, 2010 06:08 PM

Ymarsakar, that's what I'm afraid of too: that Obama is going to try (or already is) running the war with a McNamara-like group of "whiz kids" moving toy soldiers around on a table and cranking out Powerpoint slides like there's no tomorrow. And communication between that group and the field leadership will be strictly one-way.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 23, 2010 09:35 AM

Having called BO&Gang the Best and Brightest in my most sarcastic tone since day one, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I would agree with your fear Cousin Dave.

The 34 odd percent of the voting population who believed that Best and Brightest schtick, must have an awful case of guilt, anger, and/or denial working right about now.

Posted by: bthun at June 23, 2010 09:44 AM

It was Bush's fault. It was all Bush's fault. Just watch the video of the fist fight at the Tea Party over on the Father's day thread.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 23, 2010 11:20 AM

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