Free Markets, Free People

McChrystal Should Be Fired

Actually, Gen. McChrystal should have quit. The big news today will be about his and his staff’s insolent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine (pdf) wherein they lay waste to the current administration:

The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been summoned to the White House to explain biting and unflattering remarks he made to a freelance writer about President Barack Obama and others in the Obama administration.

The face-to-face comes as pundits are already calling for McChrystal to resign for insubordination.


McChrystal and his top aides appeared to let their guard down during a series of interviews and visits with Michael Hastings, a freelance writer for the magazine Rolling Stone.

The article, titled “The Runaway General,” appears in the magazine later this week. It contains a number of jabs by McChrystal and his staff aimed not only at the President but at Vice President Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador to Afghanistan, and others.

McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting.

National Security Advisor Jim Jones is described by a McChrystal aide as a “clown” stuck in 1985.

Others aides joked about Biden’s last name as sounding like “Bite me” since Biden opposed the surge.

McChrystal issued an immediate apology for the profile, advance copies of which were sent to news organizations last night.

Frankly, there is probably much in McChrystal’s criticisms to agree with, but this just isn’t the way you do it, especially during a war. What’s especially disturbing is that his staff also appears to feel free to take potshots at the Commander in Chief (a violation of the UCMJ as I understand it), and one can only wonder how far down into the ranks that sort of behavior exists. When the highest officer in theater is openly dismissing the chain of command, things can not be good.

In fact, just two months ago, Michael Yon was reporting on the lack of trust in McChrystal to handle the job and how his orders were being ignored:

McChrystal’s actions have underlined what I was starting to tell officers and NCOs, who mostly agreed with me that McChrystal can’t handle this war. Experienced people have contacted me and asked me to keep the fire on McChrystal. (Menard is already dead in the water.) I can say with certainty that some of McChrystal’s orders are being disregarded. McChrystal controls embeds. Embeds and access are separate matters. McChrystal has zero control over access. My access is extreme and wide. And with that, it can be said that units in various provinces are disregarding McChrystal’s ROE and believe he is not acting in the best interest of our troops. Officers are disregarding orders from McChrystal. (I am not a journalist and will not provide evidence. Am not asking anyone to take it on faith. It is simply a fact and has been stated.)

Speculation: Weeks before the disembed, I told a person close to McChrystal (intelligence type) that McChrystal isn’t the man for this job. Was it related to that? Simply don’t know, but I do know that officers are disregarding some of McChrystal’s orders and this is happening in various places. McChrystal is not in full control of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

I really can’t comment on McChrystal’s ability to handle the war in Afghanistan, but his Rolling Stone comments would seem to underscore Yon’s reporting. If he’s so willing to disrespect his superiors, then it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the rank and file operate the same way.

Substantively, McChrystal has much to complain about. The Obama administration’s lack of interest in Afghanistan is rather apparent (despite making some laudable decisions), and we are definitely in danger of losing there altogether. Perhaps he thought that simply resigning and reporting his complaints to Congress (or the media) would not have the same effect in drawing attention to the problems he’s encountering. By sounding off loudly in Rolling Stone, McChrystal may be accomplishing what he thought he could not do if he had followed the correct course of action.

Even so, the general should still be fired. If his gambit works, and greater attention is given to actually winning in Afghanistan, then he will receive much deserved praise. Considering the fact that the big story right now is all about his insubordination, however, that’s not likely to happen.

30 Responses to McChrystal Should Be Fired

  • The Aide speaking out during an interview is what really jumped out at me also. That is one loose ship the general is running.

  • While I feel a certain amount of grim (gleeful?) satisfaction at seeing the emperor’s lack of clothes publicly stated AND I wonder how such an event would have been covered had it been Bush and not Imeme as the target of the general’s criticism, I absolutely agree that McChrystal should be fired ASAP.  This sort of behavior just isn’t appropriate AT ALL.  If he has strong disagreements with Imeme’s policy (which is, like it or not, the lawful national policy of the United States), then he should state those concerns respectfully and privately.  Then, if he still isn’t satisfied, he should resign.

    • I wonder how such an event would have been covered had it been Bush and not Imeme as the target of the general’s criticism

      McChrystal would be celebrated as a hero, is my guess.

  • He should be fired already. I fear instead we will get a “confrontation” in the Oval Office where the President will “look tough” and dare I say it “Trumanesque” and McChrystal will be forced to apologize. Be on the look out for “strern reprimand” and “rebuke” and comments about “respecting the decision of the people” etc. It will be almost as good as Survivor. Shades of David Stockman!
    What I find disturbing is the lack of discipline. Platoon leaders don’t complain to their men about the troop commander. Battalion commanders don’t complain to their company commanders about the division commander. It’s an unspoken custom that you are free to complain about your superiors among your peers, but not in front of your subordinates.

  • Of course MacChrystal’s behavior is inexcusable and, even  worse, stupid.

    However, I also see it as symptomatic of the impossible circus that is the Obama administration, especially with respect to the war in Afghanistan.

    Strategically I support the war, but practically I believe that Obama is so ambivalent and incompetent that he is just going to get a lot of our soldiers and Afghani citizens killed while losing the war and giving radical Islam a tremendous victory.

  • “Even so, the general should still be fired. If his gambit works, and greater attention is given to actually winning in Afghanistan, then he will receive much deserved praise. Considering the fact that the big story right now is all about his insubordination, however, that’s not likely to happen.”

    Sadly, I agree with you.  Sources I have within the Pentagon seem to confirm the Administration’s lack of cohesive attention to the problems associated with the Wars (I believe the two wars are intrinsically linked regardless of Obama’s admonitions to the contrary).  It belies their attitude in general to anything that detracts them from their gerrymandering of America.

    Knowing Obama’s snesitivity to criticsm, I will not be surprised at all if McCrystal is canned.  He may allow Biden to lead the lynch mob, not that his opinion matters squat in the scheme of things, just to keep himself out of the fray.

    (Note: So much for the Left’s “Speaking Truth to Power” they so desired of the generals during the Bush years.)

  • You guys probably know what’s best so I will defer to that knowledge. However, as a civilian, I would like to see McChrystal not back down when he has his confrontation and then quit. This war is starting to smell like Viet Nam and the heinous rules of engagement forced on our guys there.

  • Such is the left-wing nuthouse Øbama has assembled for himself, I find no surprise his subordinates would despise him so, especially the military variety.

    As yea sow, so shall yea reap; and Øbama is as fragworthy as they get.

  • The problem is fire McChrystal and replace him with whom and with what strategy?

    Reminds me of the old saying:  on the most exaulted throne you’re still seated on your own ass.

    If Obama keeps him it’s not good; if he let’s him go he’s got to replace him..which causes confusion, gives enemy aid and comfort and who knows what else.

  • Given that it involves a freelance reporter for a crap pile like Rolling Stone, the General seems to have had a problem with impulse control. But could the aides who did likewise similarly have had impulse control problems?

    Was there an agreement among the General and some staff to “Let it loose with this guy,” meaning the reporter?

    Yon is saying that the word from the warriors is that McChrystal is an uncertain leader; McChrystal is saying that the President and his national security team are clueless.

    Maybe everyone is right.

    I’ll vouch for McChrystal being right. I don’t think that the White House people know what they are doing about anything. Obama thinks that the presidency is a voiceover.

    But McChrystal has to resign. He’s right about the Team Obama clowns; but you cannot talk about the CINC like that and stay. It corrupts the chain.

  • Upon further reflection I now think that McChrystal did this intentionally.

    It may be a gambit to force the Obama administration to be more serious about Afghanistan. It may be that McChrystal is trying to extricate himself from an impossible situation where he can’t satisfy his superiors, he can’t win, and he can’t avoid sacrificing his men needlessly.

    We either need to go big into Afghanistan and win or just leave. That’s the rock bottom reality that McChrystal is looking at. McChrystal is a desperate man and talking to Rolling Stone was a desperate move.

    • No, he’s just an unprofessional idiot.  If he wanted to extricate himself from the situation, a sudden public “I quit” followed by a round on the interview circuit would’ve done nicely.  Just how does running a ship where they goof on the V.P. as “Bite Me”  (not even witty by the way) and crap on people like bitchy 16 yr old girls force the Admin. to be serious about anything?

      Can this clown.

      • Well, you’ve got good points and I wouldn’t claim that talking out of school to Rolling Stone was the best approach.

        But I’ve also read that McChrystal had the chance to approve the article before it was published, so it’s hard for me to believe that McChrystal wasn’t aware of the repercussions. I’ll be interested to see how this works.

  • I just heard a compilation of talking heads screaming for McChrystal’s resignation/firing.  Yet I seem to remember many of these same folks calling for Bush’s head when he did not re-affirm Shinseki.

  • People need to read things carefully here.  One of the excerpts above is a case in point:
    “McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting.”
    Actually, if you read the Rolling Stone article those are words or thoughts attributed to McChrystal by unidentified sources. That suddenly becomes “McChrystal described”? I don’t know. There may be fire here, but at least some of the smoke is really the old game of telephone by people with axes to grind.  Like I said, read carefully.

  • CNN’s backgrounder on McChrystal:

    “He’s lanky, smart, tough, a sneaky stealth soldier,” Maj. Gen. William Nash, a retired officer, told The New York Times in May 2009. “He’s got all the Special Ops attributes, plus an intellect.”
    The Times reported that McChrystal thrives on a few hours of sleep a night and often eats only one meal a day. He has for years been an avid distance runner. When he did a yearlong fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, he reportedly ran 12 miles a day from his home in Brooklyn to Manhattan.

    • I should have added there that he doesn’t sound like someone who makes this sort of mistake except on purpose.

      Aside from the standard interpretation that this is the work of a loose cannon, what else might it be?

      • Martin: I was aware of that backgrounder on McChrystal. I can’t imagine an officer going as far as McChrystal has and not knowing how the game is supposed to be played. If he’s stopped playing the game, I think it’s intentional.

        We can be certain that McChrystal is deeply angry and frustrated with the Obama administration’s approach or non-approach to the war. We can be sure that McChrystal sees the handwriting on the wall that the war is lost if Obama doesn’t climb down from next year’s deadline and commit to winning. We don’t know how McChrystal imagined this Rolling Stone ploy playing out.

        • Except it’s not his job to devise “ploys” like this. he should be thinking up ploys to kill the enemy.

          • Point taken. Mine is that this was not a spur-of-the-moment impulse on McChrystal’s part.

  • People need to tread very, very carefully here.  Most of the reaction seems to be at statements in the first couple of pages of the article that are NOT attributed to McChrystal but to “unnamed sources” and his aides.
    After looking at this article, it is not the bitch fest that it is made out to be.  There are axes being ground here from a number of different angles.

  • this RS fellow sounds like he’s the non-descript sort who blends in well.  i suspect it’s not uncommon for our military leaders to bash the political leaders du jour (pedro’s multi-lingual) but that was a serious lapse in judgement.  general looselips really has to be fired if el presidente expects to retain the last shreds of his authority over the military.  why do i get the feeling he’s not going to do this?

    • not uncommon to bash in private, is what pedro meant to say.  in public?  muy mal.

  • What I find interesting is that this McChrystal flap coincides with being 12 months from Obama’s July 2011 deadline for leaving Afghanistan. 

    Obama didn’t come up with a strategy for his Good War in Afghanistan until last December. I can imagine McChrystal holding his tongue and doing his best for six months to make that deadline, but by now it’s  obvious that we’re not going to win in a year under Obama’s guidelines.

    If McChrystal is going to do anything to shake things up and give our military a fighting chance, this is the right time to do it. Whether this outside-the-box Rolling Stone maneuver will work is another matter but it has provoked a crisis that forces the Obama to address the Afghanistan War directly, rather than continue drifting sideways until the time is up.

  • Even so, the general should still be fired. If his gambit works, and greater attention is given to actually winning in Afghanistan, then he will receive much deserved praise. Considering the fact that the big story right now is all about his insubordination, however, that’s not likely to happen.
    I’m not so sure McChrystal didn’t know he would be fired.  It could be a way out visibly with everyone knowing what your stand was.
    OTOH, this is one of the most petty leaders I’ve ever seen.  He won’t be forced into anything.  McChrystal’s act will only serve to galvanize this administration to stick to a contrary position much longer, if not indefinitely.
    A year ago, the decision to commit more troops lingered longer, imho, because of McChrystal’s public discussions on the issue that, imho, were designed to prod Obama into action.

    • According to some sources McChrystal has already written a letter of resignation. Then Obama has a dammed-if-Ido and dammed-if-I-don’t decision on whether to accept the resignation.

      I doubt that McChrystal is indispensable but the war in Afghanistan is already in doubt. Changing commanders in midstream can’t be an encouraging prospect. McChrystal is as good as it gets for success there and the last thing Obama needs right now is another failed front in his presidency. Yet to allow McChrystal to stay also looks weak and problematic.

      It’s remarkable but in the past week we hear that Rahm Emmanuel and Peter Orszag are planning to leave Obama’s administration and now this business with McChrystal.  Gosh, it’s almost as if Obama’s top people think that Obama’s presidency is about to collapse and they don’t want to be caught anywhere near it.

    If he could not respect them…and I can certainly relate…he was honor-bound to bring his well-founded contempt to the American people AFTER stepping down.  We need to hear from this man, but now we need to hear from him outside his role as war-fighter.

  • In  the article it said that he preferred Bud Light and Talladega Nights. That alone should get him fired.

    Seriously, though, it seems to me he is an example of the Peter Principle. He doesn’t seem to have the political or public relation skills needed for his current job and degree of public exposure. Too much Patton, not enough Bradley.

    • That’s hard for me to believe. I don’t think what McChrystal did was right, but I doubt he didn’t know what he was doing. As I understand it, all military officers today, who reach the top levels as McChrystal has, are serious political animals as well as warriors.

      Of course, I can’t read minds and maybe McChrystal had a major lapse of judgment, but I suspect that he either stopped caring or is playing a risky game.

  • what i hear is the agreed attitude to go to socialism to benefit the pouch of ignorance. General Mcchrystal who i had the privaledge of recieving a counseling from only is pointing out the inequities of a man who only holds the cloak of rebuke over his head while robbing millions of what was fought to secure a land that should take of its own people first by securing our own borders. ( which security in ones own country correlates to there respective markets) my ? is why are people with no experience in there fields and no moral backing try to solve war without experiencing the horror of war firsthand, delapidation in gumpshin filled in with a lot of lawyering and talks of complete countrol. absolute power corrupts absolutely. Maybe mcchrystal should be rotated out but hes bled more for you to object without having any true knowledge to cash the checks ur mouths always try to write. but alas controvery is good in a free society as long as true debate emerges from the social conflict in doing so hopefully we do not trash what earth we have left.