Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was removed from his post as commander of American forces in Afghanistan today. This came after news of remarks that he and his aides, who call themselves “Team America,” made to Michael Hastings, a Rolling Stones reporter, concerning President Obama and high ranking members of his administration . President Obama has selected Gen. David H. Petraeus as McChrystal’s replacement. Gen. Petraeus, if confirmed by the senate–which seems like a definite since he is always warmly received–will be leaving his post as the head of the United States Central Command, a higher position then he will be taking.
There has been much commentary going around concerning the presidents’ decision and the impact it will have on the war in Afghanistan. The general consensus seems to be in favor for the president’s decision. Though President Hamid Karzai was in favor of keeping McChrystal, he expressed his satisfaction with the choice for Petraeus. Some might view McChrystal’s descent as long overdo, especially since no major uproar was made concerning his cover-up of Cpl. Pat Tillman’s death from friendly fire, and his failure to prevent or speak out against the abuse and torture of detainees at Camp Nama in Iraq.
What is it about the article that cause the uproar? McChrystal, who has always been considered brilliant and cocky, seems to have let his cocky side dominate his reasoning. In the article, he and “Team America” insulted the diplomatic process with the French, one of America’s allies–even though their support has not been stellar. McChrystal and his team spoke ill of Senator McCain and Senator Kerry. However, what probably infuriated President Obama is their comments on Joe Biden, whom they refer to as “bite me,” U.S. National Security Advisor James L. Jones, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, and the president himself, who McChrystal depicted as being scared and intimidated by the leaders of the Pentagon.
That was what brought about the demise of McChrystal’s rule in Afghanistan. There are two things to consider when assessing the rightness of President Obama’s decision. The first is that if McChrystal goes undisciplined it would show weakness on the part of the president. This will impact how the military as a whole sees him and how other world leaders, including the Taliban and Al Qaeda, sees him. Before his ascension to the presidency, some Americans were wondering whether then senator Obama was fit to be Commander-in-Chief. A weak resolution to this issue would have given them an answer to use the next time around. Politically speaking, a lack of strength here may prove disastrous for Democrats, who are already facing the abyss, in November, and would definately weaken the president’s chances for reelection.
Secondly, if Obama didn’t remove the general, it would suggest the president can’t or won’t defend his closest allies, the members of his administration, or even himself for that matter. If a general speaks ill of the Vice President of the United States and the President doesn’t do anything about it, what kind of respect would those who are under Biden have for him? It makes him look weak and powerless. It makes anyone who is within Obama’s inner circle look like jokers. You can’t really speak for the President if he doesn’t back you up, your words will fall to the ground.
The comments were surprising. It was shocking to see a general of such rank speak in such a manner. You would think that they would have had thoughtful considerations about their words and actions, knowing that they were being interviewed by a reporter. However, stupidity prevailed and now punishment must be dealt or else current or future commanders will not have no respect for the Commander-in-Chief. Someone in the McChrystal camp should of had enough sense to realize that whatever they say or do would be the talk of Washington.
For the image above and on the front page: © Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images