Today’s bombshell is the Rolling Stone article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal. In case you’re unable to have the web fed to you intravenously throughout the day, as I do — General McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, and his aides badmouthed the Obama Administration. In print.
I’ve been trying to understand precisely what’s wrong with General McChrystal, and my impression is that he’s an asshole. This could be wrong, of course, since I never met him. Alex Pareene provides a more nuanced overview. A consensus is forming that the General feared the President wanted to end the Afghanistan campaign, and McChrystal seems to have thought the interview would stir public opinion against Obama and toward continued military operations in Afghanistan. That was a really stupid thing to think, but there it is.
As Pareene says, “the story presents a counterinsurgency expert general who got literally everything he wanted from an initially (and understandably) reluctant White House, and who is still childishly peeved that anyone in the civilian leadership ever had doubts to begin with.” See also Marc Ambinder.
The military’s subordination to civilian authority is a time-honored principle in the U.S. going back to the beginning. Generals who forget that principle tend not to be remembered well. George McClellan and Douglas MacArthur come to mind, suggesting that we need a rule about not promoting anyone with a “Mc” name above the rank of colonel. And McChrystal needs to be relieved of command asap.