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Thread: Obama orders Gen McChrystal to US to explain himself after Rolling Stone Article

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    Gold Member Janet296's Avatar
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    I was in the military for years. This kind of thing just ISN'T DONE! This is not your buddies you are speaking to about Obama. It's a reporter for an internationally publish magazine. If this was an enlisted soldier, they would be charged with insubordination. This is a UCMJ offense. It shows extremely poor judgment on his part. Regardless of your opinion of your Commander in Chief, you keep your lips zipped. Nobody is irreplaceable. He should be fired.

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    Military aside, like I said before, I don't know anyone who can publically badmouth their boss and not get in trouble or fired over it.
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    Default The Dumb 'Fire McChrystal' Campaign

    As Stanley McChrystal takes the long walk to the principal’s office, many commentators have suggested that the president shed his image as a cerebral waffler and bring the short, unhappy tenure of General McChrystal to an end. This would, according to some, show the kind of firm, decisive leadership often associated with Truman’s dispatch of MacArthur, or Bush’s impromptu remarks to the 9/11 cleanup crews at the site of the World Trade Center.

    Let’s hope that Obama is not persuaded by such patently silly advice. It is an idée fixe of some political commentators that Obama should parlay every presidential dilemma into an opportunity to show "true leadership." But judging Obama’s presidency by whether he’s displaying the right emotions (resolve, toughness, and anger, to name a few) gives an unintended and entirely superficial meaning to the phrase "presidential performance."

    John Kerry seemed to understand this yesterday when, in a futile attempt to douse the emerging firestorm, he said, "Everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the president and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission."

    That is, of course, an eminently sensible approach to the McChrystal flap. The idea that the president’s decision would be based on anything other than McChrystal’s ability to implement Obama’s Afghanistan strategy betrays near-Nixonian levels of political cynicism. Can anyone seriously suggest that the president dismiss the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in America's longest-ever war, based on sassy comments in a magazine article, because the optics would be good?

    Even if he were so inclined, any attempt by Obama to use McChrystal’s departure to burnish his leadership credentials would likely fall flat. One of the central themes of Obama’s tenure has been the return of the presidency to adult hands after many years of petulant and impulsive leadership. Obama has stuck with his restrained, sober, analytical governing style through the tumultuous 18 months of his presidency (even when various corporate villains have provided tempting opportunities for him to raise his voice and stomp his feet). This is, after all, the man who waited to enter the congressional healthcare debates, waited to take public ownership of the BP fiasco, and waited . . . and waited before ordering an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Does he really want to send the message that the one thing he can’t abide, the one thing he will not brook, is calling the vice-president "Senator Bite Me"?

    And assume, contra this reasoning, that Obama’s firing of McChrystal were greeted as a rare display of political backbone. There’s little indication that the message would resonate beyond the chattering class. Nearly nine years in, the war in Afghanistan is barely the subject of notice, let alone the locus of intense popular attention. (It’s not for nothing that the most talked about Afghanistan article in recent months involved mineral deposits.) It hardly makes sense for Obama to make empty gestures to an empty crowd.

    Worth noting, too, is the fact that any boost to Obama from McChrystal’s firing is likely to be short-lived. The war in Afghanistan is not, after all, a subject that lends itself to flashy displays of symbolism. People may applaud Obama’s decision now, but if past is prologue, the situation in Afghanistan will remain fragile and messy for years to come. If that’s the case, Obama’s decision to dump McChrystal only months into the troop surge will look less like strong, principled leadership than the type of rash, gut-level, Bush-43-style decision-making that so many have grown to despise.

    None of this is to say, of course, that McChrystal’s remarks should not be condemned. They should be, as should the atmosphere of disrespect toward civilian leadership that flourished among his aides. But after the rain of rebukes from Republicans and Democrats alike, and the ignominy of McChrystal’s walk of shame to the White House this morning, there’s not much to be accomplished by further punishment.

    The message of civilian superiority to military brass has been conveyed and, one would think, received. Obama can shout that message even more loudly with McChrystal’s termination, but is the marginal benefit worth the host of practical problems that would flow from his departure? Certainly not if the benefit is the vindication of some vague principle of military "respect" for civilian command. And especially not if the whole exercise is merely to engage in a pantomime of leadership.

    We can be forgiven for having an occasional weakness for big, grand gestures like Bush’s speech at Ground Zero. But we shouldn’t forget that Obama’s Afghanistan problem is an attempt to close a military conflict that Bush eagerly anticipated in his chest-thumping speech at the World Trade Center site in 2001. It’s worth remembering that next time someone tells the president to pick up a bullhorn.

    The dumb "Fire McChrystal!" campaign - War Room - Salon.com
    Last edited by witchcurlgirl; June 23rd, 2010 at 11:29 AM.



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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    The other point of view:


    One more chance will be hard to credit. And "I am going to take a few days to decide" -- that, too, will be incredible. This was General Stanley McChrystal's third outburst of insubordination. Last September, there was the leak of his high-end preferred figure of 80,000 troops for Afghanistan. McChrystal knew the decision was not yet settled, and that his intervention, through Bob Woodward, would cause the president embarrassment. He was playing politics. Last month brought forth his ad-lib remark that the counterinsurgency campaign in Marja, which he once described as "a government in a box," had degenerated into a "bleeding ulcer." Now we have the comments that he allowed his staff to utter against diplomats, presidential advisers, and the civilian authorities in Afghanistan; and the report that, on his first meeting with Obama, McChrystal found the president deeply unimpressive.

    The truth or falseness of the dicta is not the matter in question; though if the government in a box could turn so quickly into a bleeding ulcer, there must have been a fault (among other places) somewhere in McChrystal's thinking. Nobody asked him to explain or try to understand Afghanistan with these picturesque and mutually cancelling metaphors.

    Why did he give the interview to Rolling Stone? One answer is egotism. Another is more politicking. But for what? An additional hundred thousand troops? (From where?) A different president to serve? (But we have a system that takes care of that.) A simple impression of disloyalty is left by the interview. Disloyalty first of all -- but also a half-formed wish to be relieved of responsibility in order not to be blamed for defeat.

    "I want to make sure," said President Obama yesterday, "that I talk to him directly before I make any final decision." The president also said that the article in which McChrystal and his staff publicized their scorn for their co-workers and superiors showed "poor judgment." Presumably this meant the poor judgment was the general's, not the article's, but Obama did not summon the grammar to say so.

    This first presidential reaction deserves a comment in itself. Consider the situation. Someone who is supposed to follow my orders insults me in public, and I say: the article in which he placed his statements shows "poor judgment." That is not a way most of us can imagine thinking in the first person. It is as if the president thought he could be both in his life and outside it. A curiously dissociated state of mind.

    President Obama can now subject McChrystal to public chastisement, and, in a symbolic fashion, demote him while keeping him on duty. In that case, he leaves the feckless general (who took an oath to serve him) humiliated and even more resentful than before. Or he can forgive him, and fold under his wing an inveterate subverter of civilian command. Or he can fire him, and by doing so reveal what is hardly a secret: that the Afghanistan policy is in disarray, and the failure of respect by the general offers the greatest conceivable testimony of that fact.

    The first of these choices -- to humble, demote, and continue -- augurs a disaster which would begin the day the announcement was made. All the brash militarized opinion of the country would rise up with one voice against Obama and charge that he asks our men to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. McChrystal would become the permanent hero of that explosive phalanx; to part from him afterward would be unthinkable. The second possible path -- forgiveness again -- could only be interpreted as an admission that McChrystal is right. He would thereby acquire legitimate fame as the all-but-nominal commander in chief for Afghanistan.

    To accept his resignation seems therefore a bad choice and the only possible choice. It amounts to an assertion of command: the very thing that was aborted by the general's comments and the vulgar contempt for civilian authority he countenanced and seems to have fomented among his staff. But to assert command brings responsibilities; thus far in his presidency, Barack Obama has shown a relish mostly for the sound and posture of command. He has preferred to suggest, to delegate, to invite for consideration. He likes to say that inaction is unacceptable. But in visible matters of policy, he has hesitated to choose clearly and have it known that he wants things to go a certain way.

    Loose comparisons have been ventured between the present conflict of civilian against military authority and the confrontation that led President Truman to fire General MacArthur in the Korean War. The parallels are closer than most people seem to realize. MacArthur trashed the chain of command by telling right-wing auditors and the press that he was being restrained, to the country's great cost, by an incompetent president. He intimated that the only sure way to victory in Korea was a war with China. He did what he could to provoke such a war, and he gave the Republican House Minority Leader, Joe Martin, a letter to read on April 5, 1951, saying that there was "no substitute for victory." Thus he characterized the Truman policy in Korea as a doomed half-measure, a bleeding ulcer. This was the last of "an apparently unending series of indiscretions," as the London Times called it -- an apt description too of General McChrystal's conduct and comments. On hearing of that letter of MacArthur's, Truman would later recall, "I was ready to kick him into the North China Sea."

    President Obama, reflecting that he would like to talk to McChrystal "directly before I make any final decision," does not give the impression of having arrived at so sharp a verdict. But it would seem that events have made the decision for him. You cannot have a commander in the field who thinks and talks that way. There were voices even on Fox Radio -- Hannity yesterday, a guest on Imus today -- from whom that obvious judgment could be heard. "With deep regret," Truman announced on April 11, 1951, "I have concluded that the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the United States Government."

    David Bromwich: McChrystal, Obama, and Authority



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    Quote Originally Posted by Janet296 View Post
    I was in the military for years. This kind of thing just ISN'T DONE! This is not your buddies you are speaking to about Obama. It's a reporter for an internationally publish magazine. If this was an enlisted soldier, they would be charged with insubordination. This is a UCMJ offense. It shows extremely poor judgment on his part. Regardless of your opinion of your Commander in Chief, you keep your lips zipped. Nobody is irreplaceable. He should be fired.
    For this reason alone he has to go. The little I know about the military comes from my BIL who was a Marine for 20 years, and even I know that in the military this represents insubordination rather than just a healthy difference of opinion. He is undermining his own mission, which is retarded IMO.

    I'm not devaluing his opinion or the need for truth-telling to the administration--but it needs to be directed to the administration itself.

    McChrystal knows how it works and I am sure he understands the consequences.

    Meanwhile, I am even more firmly convinced now that war is just a stupid game that boys play and I'm sick of it.

  6. #21
    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Even in a regular business scenario, it's one thing to disagree with the company values, the boss's POV or business ethics. It's another thing to not talk it over with the boss, then have the boss read about it in, of all publications, "Rolling Stone". Did this guy's brains all of a sudden just turn to complete diarrhea?

    PS - what ever happened to withdrawing from Afghanistan? I say, let 'em hash it out over there without our contribution in the casualties department.
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    McChyrstal is out...


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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    Even in a regular business scenario, it's one thing to disagree with the company values, the boss's POV or business ethics. It's another thing to not talk it over with the boss, then have the boss read about it in, of all publications, "Rolling Stone". Did this guy's brains all of a sudden just turn to complete diarrhea?

    .
    The publisher or RS, Jann Wenner, said that they watched videos of McChrystal and figured out that he is an extremely vain man. Marching around in front of troops with his shirt off, always aware of the camera, the man loves his authority. Even so, the RS journalist was shocked at how quickly McChrystal exploded with these insults in front of a mike.

    Here's the most interesting thing - McChrystal loves Hilary. Shock!

    He's a peacock and a blow hard. Rolling Stone figured him out.
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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    It's the right thing to do (having him resign).

    Hell I would expect my bosses to just hand me a box and remind me to not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out.
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    Also, if he had strong objections to the way the war was being run or major policy issues, he could have either resigned quietly or done so publicly to bring attention to the issues on his own.

    There seem to be a lack of people who are willing to resign in protest these days over things they don't agree with/believe in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBDSP View Post

    There seem to be a lack of people who are willing to resign in protest these days over things they don't agree with/believe in.
    There were a slew of generals and powers at the Pentagon who resigned during the Bush years over disagreements with his policies. It wasn't covered near enough. Year 2000 was when The Fourth Estate died in this country.
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    I think there's being a lot of attention brought to it. Attention that makes alot of people look like moronic assholes, but still.
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  13. #28
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    McChrystal relieved of command, Petraeus chosen to take over

    By the CNN Wire Staff
    June 23, 2010 2:33 p.m. EDT

    Washington (CNN) -- A day after his disparaging comments about America's civilian leadership surfaced and dramatically struck a nerve in the White House, the top commander in Afghanistan has stepped down.

    President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal "with considerable regret" and nominated Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command. The moves come in the wake of the revelation that Rolling Stone magazine would publish politically explosive remarks made by the general and his aides about key administration officials.

    "It is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for our country," Obama said, flanked by top civilian and military leaders, such as Vice President Biden; Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; and Petraeus outside the White House.

    Obama said McChrystal's remarks in Rolling Stone undermined the civilian control of the military "at the core of our democratic system." He said the decision wasn't based on disagreement in strategy or personal issues.

    "I believe that it is the right decision for our national security. The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general."

    Obama said that as hard as it is to lose the general, the "war is bigger than any one man or woman" and that while he welcomes debate among his team, he won't tolerate division.

    "It was a difficult decision to come to the conclusion that I've made today," Obama said. "Indeed, it saddens me to lose the service of a soldier who I've come to respect and admire. but the reasons that led me to this decision are the same principles that have supported the strength of our military and our nation since the founding."

    Obama said it is his duty "to ensure that no diversion complicates the vital mission that they are carrying out" and that he has a "responsibility to do whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda.

    "I believe that this mission demands unity of effort across our alliance and across my national security team. And I don't think that we can sustain that unity of effort and achieve our objectives in Afghanistan without making this change."

    Obama urged the Senate to swiftly confirm Petraeus, who would leave his Central Command position.

    McChrystal issued a statement Wednesday saying the president accepted his resignation as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

    "I strongly support the president's strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people. It was out of respect for this commitment -- and a desire to see the mission succeed -- that I tendered my resignation. It has been my privilege and honor to lead our nation's finest," McChrystal said.

    The Rolling Stone story set off a political firestorm. Obama was "angry" after reading the general's remarks, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

    McChrystal was called to Washington and met with Gates and Mullen before going to the White House Wednesday morning, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

    He arrived at the White House to meet Obama in the Oval Office just before 9:45 a.m. ET. The high-stakes meeting with Obama began six minutes later and lasted for roughly a half hour. McChrystal departed the White House around 10:30 a.m.

    After the Oval Office meeting, Obama joined a larger group of senior administration aides in a meeting about Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    McChrystal was not invited to participate in Wednesday morning's White House national security meeting on the war in Afghanistan, two sources told CNN's John King.

    The "magnitude and graveness" of McChrystal's mistake in conducting the interview for the article were "profound," Gibbs said. Gates said McChrystal had "made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment."

    McChrystal apologized Tuesday for the profile, in which he and his staff appear to mock top civilian officials, including the vice president. Two defense officials said the general fired a press aide over the article, which appears in Friday's edition of Rolling Stone.

    "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a Pentagon statement. "Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard."

    Obama, questioned about McChrystal before a Cabinet meeting Tuesday afternoon, said he had not made a decision.

    "I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment, but I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make that final decision," he said.

    One national security official told CNN earlier that most of the Pentagon brass hoped McChrystal would be upbraided by the commander-in-chief but sent back to continue the mission.

    Several elected officials strongly criticized McChrystal but deferred to the president on the politically sensitive question of whether the general should keep his position. A couple of key congressmen, however, openly called for McChrystal's removal.

    In the profile, Michael Hastings writes that McChrystal and his staff had imagined ways of dismissing Vice President Joe Biden with a one-liner as they prepared for a question-and-answer session in Paris, France, in April. The general had grown tired of questions from Biden since earlier dismissing a counterterrorism strategy the vice president had offered.

    "'Are you asking about Vice President Biden?' McChrystal says with a laugh. 'Who's that?'"

    "Biden?' suggests a top adviser. 'Did you say: Bite Me?'"

    McChrystal does not directly criticize Obama in the article, but Hastings writes that the general and Obama "failed to connect" from the outset. Sources familiar with the meeting said McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the room full of top military officials, according to the article.

    Later, McChrystal's first one-on-one meeting with Obama "was a 10-minute photo op," Hastings writes, quoting an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his f---ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss (McChrystal) was disappointed."

    The article goes on to paint McChrystal as a man who "has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict," including U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, special representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and national security adviser Jim Jones. Obama is not named as one of McChrystal's "team of rivals."

    Of Eikenberry, who railed against McChrystal's strategy in Afghanistan in a cable leaked to The New York Times in January, the general is quoted as saying, "'Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, "I told you so.'"

    Hastings writes in the profile that McChrystal has a "special skepticism" for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating Taliban members into Afghan society and the administration's point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    "At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry, according to the article. 'Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,' he groans. 'I don't even want to open it.' He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

    "'Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg,' an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail."

    Both Democrats and Republicans had been strongly critical of McChrystal in the wake of the story. House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, called McChrystal the latest in a "long list of reckless, renegade generals who haven't seemed to understand that their role is to implement policy, not design it."

    Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, became the first member of the Senate Democratic leadership to call for McChrystal to step down, telling CNN on Tuesday that the remarks were "unbelievably inappropriate and just can't be allowed to stand."

    Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, deferred to Obama on the question of a possible McChrystal resignation. He said the controversy was sending a message of "confusion" to troops in the field. I think it has "a negative effect" on the war effort, he said.

    Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Jim Webb of Virginia -- also key senators on defense and foreign policy issues -- were each strongly critical of McChrystal's remarks, but noted that the general's future was a decision for Obama to make.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai weighed in from abroad, urging Obama to keep McChrystal as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The government in Kabul believes McChrystal is a man of strong integrity who has a strong understanding of the Afghan people and their culture, Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said.

    An official at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said Eikenberry and McChrystal "are both fully committed" to Obama's Afghan strategy and are working together to implement the plan. "We have seen the article and General McChrystal has already spoken to it," according to a statement from an embassy official, making reference to McChrystal's apology.

    "I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome," McChrystal said in the closing to his apology.

    Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates, however, struck a less optimistic tone during an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

    The comments made by McChrystal and other top military aides during the interview were "not off-the-cuff remarks," he said. They "knew what they were doing when they granted the access." The story shows "a deep division" and "war within the administration" over strategy in Afghanistan, he contended.

    McChrystal and his staff became aware that the Rolling Stone article would be controversial before it was published, Hastings told CNN Tuesday. He said he "got word from (McChrystal's) staff ... that there was some concern" about possible fallout from the story.

    Obama tapped McChrystal to head the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan in the spring of 2009 shortly after dismissing Gen. David McKiernan.

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    Awesome. The loser that failed in Afghanistan is being replaced with the loser who failed in Iraq.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Awesome. The loser that failed in Afghanistan is being replaced with the loser who failed in Iraq.

    Change! Hope! More of the same.
    True but, are there any winners left?

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