The General McChrystal problem
The blogosphere is buzzing about the Rolling Stone article on General McChrystal, which highlights the commander’s (ahem) lack of enthusiasm for his civilian superior.
That’s putting it mildly.
The article highlights the general’s disdain for the Vice-President, Ambassador Holbrooke, even the President for the way in which they are waging the Afghanistan war.
That this information has now been made public is a big problem for our efforts in Afghanistan and for the general himself, the solution to which should be outright dismissal. He can have his opinions, but save the public pronouncements for retirement.
Most likely this is what will happen, but what about the President?
We’re dealing with a narcissistic and fragile Commander-In-Chief, and any talk that makes the administration seem incompetent or not up to the task at hand, doesn’t sit very well with this White House. Where to lay the blame for this mess?
Look in the mirror, Mr. President:
The real trouble is that Obama never resolved the dispute within his administration over Afghanistan strategy. With the backing of Gates and the Pentagon’s top generals, McChrystal sought to apply to Afghanistan the counterinsurgency approach that succeeded over the last three years in Iraq, an option requiring the deployment of tens of thousands more troops. Biden opposed sending most of the reinforcements and argued for a “counterterrorism plus” strategy centered on preventing al-Qaeda from establishing another refuge.
In the end, Obama adopted what is beginning to look like a bad compromise. He approved most of the additional troops that McChrystal sought, but attached the July, 2011 deadline for beginning withdrawals. Since then both sides have been arguing their cases, in private and in public, to the press and to members of Congress.
Expect a lot of demonizing in the next 24-48 hours.