Everyone I know has complained about their boss or some of their job duties at one time or another. But what if your boss is the President of the United States and a reporter covering you on the record is the one listening to those complaints? Well, that lands you in a big hot steaming mess of a situation.
General Stanley McChrystal, the Afghanistan War Commander, was quoted in a Rolling Stone article criticizing the President and Vice President. And now President Obama has to figure out what to do about it.
I believe General McChrystal has an obligation to publicly support his Commander in Chief. As a country, I believe it is critical that we portray a united military front during a war. Exposing these fissures could be devastating to our military efforts. I also think the General should be allowed to blow off some steam and express his frustrations with his job privately. The reporter acknowledged that many of the controversial comments were made during “down time” when the General was relaxing with members of his team. However, these have not been his only political missteps. He has publicly criticized Biden and the diplomacy team. He is alleged to have released a memo that forced Obama to send in more troops.
But what is Obama to do now? Has McChrystal jumped the shark and now running his own program or is he a General used to fighting under the a cloud of secrecy that just can’t get used to the politics of fighting a war in the bright light of day? Fire him to demonstrate a strong stance against insubordination and risk a disruption in the aggressive timeline for pulling out of Afghanistan or allow the General to continue in his current post and risk what he will do next? Obama really is caught between a rock and a hard place.
I believe this has to be a pragmatic decision. My primary concern is the disruption of the Afghanistan timeline. I believe this Administration will be judged more harshly for not ending the war as promised than how they dealt with McChrystal. The General’s cavalier attitude demonstrates he is not qualified to engage in the diplomacy needed to bring to conclusion the Afghanistan engagement. This is a highly political game and he just doesn’t seem to know or care about the rules.
What do you think?