Now that all the facts are in and the dust has settled, I'd like to comment on President Obama's decision to relieve General McChrystal of his command.
First of all, many people still can't believe that McCrystal’s PR guy thought it would be a good idea to let a Rolling Stone reporter do a profile inside McChrystal’s tight inner circle.
Anyway, this short-term political crisis has probably done Obama a favor. His leadership has been under attack .. many people criticizing him for failing to have a firm, hands-on response to the Gulf oil disaster.
So, he simply could not allow a subordinate to mock him, or cultivate an atmosphere that openly flaunted disrespect for his leadership. Obama had no other choice, he had to remove the general .. who was already dressed down on Air Force One for his remarks about VP Biden.
This last episode gave Obama a very high-profile chance to show that he was in control at a critical moment. It's hard to imagine a single pundit, right or left, questioning Obama's leadership in the wake of this decision .. or the way he handled it.
So, Obama finally did kick some ass.
I live in a military town around military people, and no matter what they think of the Commander in Chief, there are four letters burned into military brains = U-C-M-J: Uniform Code of Military Justice. It’s the criminal code for all branches of the service, applied to enlisted soldiers as well as generals, and it’s enforced with a vigor and swiftness that civilian law enforcement can only dream of.
888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS
"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."
Obama had to reassert civilian control over the military. He said McChrystal's conduct "undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system, and it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."
And why was it Rolling Stone, not the New York Times or Washington Post or CNN or MSNBC, who got the scoop on how General McChrystal feels about his Commander in Chief? ("the real enemy -- those wimps in the White House.")
I will have more to say about what all this means for our 9-years in Afghanistan .. but that's another blog. For now, here is The Rolling Stone article, The Runaway General.