Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not exactly McChrystal clear

President Obama dismissed General Stanley McChrystal for remarks that violated the accepted military code of conduct related to public statements criticizing civilian authority.

Even conservative Republicans criticized McChrystal for lousy judgement and public statements that did not respect the powers and authority of the president to be commander-in-chief as specified in the constitution.

But so far the criticism of McChrystal has not been about what he said but that he said it at all and publicly to a reporter. The criticisms McChrystal leveled seems to be something that most commentators with a military background have agreed with -- namely that there was a lot of frustration that no one seemed to be in charge at the White House and there was no specific chain of command. McChrystal also criticized Obama for not being prepared at their meetings, and McChrystal never backed off the substance of his criticism.

One might dismiss McChrystal's comments ( though no one questions his credibility) except for the fact that exactly the same charge has been made about Obama by congressional Democrats during the health care debate ( and all painfully true) when he was flummoxed every other day, never drew any lines in the sand and let the Republicans take control of the debate. And the same charge of no one being in charge has been leveled at Obama by just about everyone over his tepid response to the Gulf spill. Just about everyone in the Gulf has complained that no one seems to be in charge.

This should not come as any surprise to anyone familiar with Obama's entire political career since he has never displayed at any time even a shred of ability to take charge of anything except his own political fortunes. Remember this is the president who, when a state senator voted "present" over 100 times not voting for or against anything.

When it comes to policy, ideas, thinking, problem solving, leadership and taking charge, Obama is and has been over his head from day one, exactly as his critics during the Democratic primary said he was, and as he has shown for the first 18 months of his presidency.

The good that is coming from McChrystal's remarks is the focus now been thrown on Afghanistan and Obama's policies and leadership problems

The mission as defined by Obama is to defeat the Taliban, secure the country against Al-Qaeda, and somehow engage in some kind of nation building to "give the Afghans a better life". This last does not go over well with anyone, especially Democrats, and as far defeating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda many military and counter terrorism experts feel that could be done better with a smaller force of commandos and counter terrorism forces, not 100,000 troops occupying a country that no foreign power has been able to successfully occupy.

At a press conference today Obama was asked about the dismissal and, as usual, simply lied about every facet of the question, something no doubt the mainstream press will ignore.

Obama said, "let me be clear, there were no policy differences between myself and General McChrystal. General McChrystal was executing my policy and my strategy".

All of that factually was a lie.

There was a fundamental and deep policy difference between McChrystal and Obama. McChrystal had made it clear he needed ten years to complete the mission and Col. Jack Jacobs has said McChrystal is right. The problem is Obama had given McChrystal till next July to accomplish the mission. That is the date Obama promised to start withdrawing troops, something he promised to do at the time he announced the additional troops and something McChrystal and others in the military felt demoralized the troops even before they got there.

The second set of lies is that McChrystal was "executing" Obama's policies and Obama's strategy. How he gets away with this without anyone in the media calling him on it is incredible but the truth is the policy and the strategy was McChrystal's and it was Obama who simply signed off on it.

It was McChrystal who came to Obama with the request of 40,000 additional troops, not Obama waking up one morning and deciding they needed more troops. McChrystal got 30,000 but it was at McChrystal's request.

Obama also said that he would "evaluate" when the time comes whether the troops will start to come home in July as he promised. The withdrawal announcement at the time was just Obama throwing a bone to the left who wanted out of Afghanistan in the first place. Now he is on the verge of reneging on yet another promise, only saying now that he will "evaluate" the situation when the time comes.

CNN was reporting that Secretary of Defense Gates wanted to keep McChrystal as being vital the mission. Patraeus is certainly a logical choice to replace him. But, as time will probably tell, the real problem wasn't McChrystal, though he deserved to get the boot for undermining civilian authority. The real problem is the one McChrystal complained about in the first place, that the man at the top doesn't seem to know what he's doing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Getting yourself fired is nonsensical -- if Gen McChrystal had resigned before going public, then that would have been fine -- but going "public" with chain-of-command issues via Rolling Stone magazine as a commanding general in combat is juevenile delinquency -- I believe that Gen McChrystal would agree that he mishandled himself in this instance...