Wednesday, June 23, 2010

General McChrystal Speaks to Rolling Stone

What was he thinking? Since when does a U.S. military commander, at a time of war, employ a staff that agrees for the General to be interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine? Seriously? Rolling Stone? General Stanley McChrystal - commander of the war in Afghanistan - has relieved his civilian media relations person of his duties, rightly so.

This article in Star and Stripes makes the most important point - President Obama is between a rock and a hard place and the person responsible for that awkward situation is General McChrystal himself.

Now Obama must add a new crisis to that daunting list: The commander he handpicked to win the Afghanistan war allowed a reporter for Rolling Stone to embed with him and his closest staff for a month, offering up a series of incendiary and embarrassing comments about the president and his war cabinet.

If he fires McChrystal, Obama will enjoy the dubious distinction of being the only president in U.S. history to sack two wartime commanders in a little more than a year. Last May, Gen. David McKiernan was relieved of post commanding the Afghan war effort after the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “fresh eyes” were needed to find a more successful path forward.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Examiner, Byron York writes about speaking with a former military man familiar with McChrystal:

"He had great disdain for anyone, as he said, ‘in a suit,’” the former military man continues. “I was shocked one day in a small group of people when he took [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld to task in front of all of us.”

“The other thing about him is that he is probably one of the more arrogant, cocksure military guys I have run across. That in itself is not necessarily a character flaw, but when you couple it with his great disdain for civilians, it’s a very volatile combination.”

The article - all eleven printed pages of it from my computer - contains some comments by aides to the general that should not be available for public consumption. The only damning quote from the General himself is one concerning Richard Holbrooke and well, no one likes Richard Holbrooke. But, that is not the point. The point is that the General showed incredibly bad judgement and allowed a Rolling Stone magazine reporter to hang with him and his inner circle for an extended length of time in the first place.

The article is here.

President Obama has called General McChrystal back to Washington to talk to him. Some say McChrystal will offer his resignation. Some say Obama will fire him. This will be known later in the day, after the meeting. This is the second time that Obama has 'scolded' McChrystal, having done so last summer on Air Force One.

General McChrystal's inner circle has allowed their commander to be in this situation. This should have never happened. Once the General was told of the reporter's access, he should have vetoed the decision. During a time of war, a war not going very well right now, the last thing parents of young soldiers dying in battle need to read is that the man in charge there has no respect for leadership in Washington.

We now wait to learn of the consequences of this exercise in poor judgement.


Anonymous said...

I heard an interesting take on this this morning on Walton & Johnson. They argue that he did it on purpose: His complaints about the administration would not have been covered by the media if he had simply tried to voice them. By turning it into a "scandal", he gets his point across, gets to leave the position, and gets more mainstream media coverage.

Karen said...

I love me some Walton & Johnson in the morning as I drive Robbie to classes. They may be right.