Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal Clear

This should have been easy. General mouths off publicly about the Commander-in-Chief, he goes. Only in Washington could this become a soap opera over the course of a couple of days.

Without getting too far into the weeds, McChrystal was wrong. The Uniform Code of Military Justice specifically forbids comments such as his. One of the first lessons recruits are taught is that they have given up some of their Constitutional rights by enlisting, key among which is freedom of speech. The debate about whether this is a good idea can be held another time. (I happen to think it is, on several levels.) Given the facts as they exist, McChrystal was out of line; the only relevant question is what to do with him?

He can't stay where he is. No Commander-in-Chief can have a subordinate commander in the field treat him with such open disrespect; I'm sure McChrystal wouldn't stand for it from one of his men. You can't transfer him, for the same reason.

So, McChrystal has to go. How to do it? There should be no need for Obama to fire him; McChrystal's service to the country has earned him the right to resign, which he should have done the minute the story broke, thus allowing the offended party (Obama) the opportunity to either accept it (as he has done), or to make a magnanimous (but misguided) gesture and allow him to stay. Letting it linger for a few days did nothing to enhance McChrystal's reputation.

As for Republicans who argue he can't be replaced at this juncture: grow up. The military is based on the idea that anyone might have to be replaced on a moment's notice. If McChrystal had died in the middle of giving an order, his second-in-command would be expected to step up and finish it. It's true everywhere, but nowhere more so than in the military: no one is indispensable.

It's a shame, though. No one gets to be a four star just because he's a master schmoozer; McChrystal had to be good, especially to make that rank with some of the blemishes he has on his record. So we lost a good warrior today, but we can't say we lost a good soldier, or he wouldn't have been in that situation to begin with.


Charlieopera said...

Obama did the right thing and in a much more magnanimous way than I would have. The Republicans have nothing to say about anything after allowing big oil’s designated pin cushion (Joe Barton) remain in their party, never mind keep his position. That is beyond a disgrace and I’m sure the DNC will do their best to remind voters in November (rightly so).

There was a faction of the left that took issue with Petraeus (remember "Betray us"?) back when he worked for Bush, but some of that singing came from the same weak chorus that cannot yet acknowledge how little Obama has done for them. The bottom line is what was behind McCrystal’s commentary about the strategy (his personal issues aside). If our people are fighting with one hand behind their backs (and that wouldn’t be the first time), then the war policy is as flawed as a foreign policy that was once mocked to no end (under Bush) but is now somehow neglected of the attention it fully deserves (and that NY Times columnist Bob Herbert reminds us weekly but nobody in the White House is reading that one). This war is stupid. Both wars were stupid. They are way more costly in blood and bad will than what they were supposed to have accomplished (if that was EVER clearly defined--lord knows the Bush White House seem to redefine it every other week).

Obama did the right thing in letting McCrystal go. Now it’s time to let his Afghanistan campaign promise go. He won’t though ... he has to string this bullshit out at least until it’s close enough to the 2012 Presidential elections to fulfill his pledge to get us out of there. So far most of his gambles have not paid off well (if at all). He’s been too reliant on brain power that hasn’t delivered. He’s wasted valuable political capital he may lose for good in November. He’s fumbled the ball with BP over and over (being way too trusting of people who could care less about anything other than profit) and every day we learn how another piece of the $20 billion compensation fund is revealed to come at the detriment of the people most affected by BP’s disaster in the Gulf (and I’m not talking about BP shareholders Mr. Barton seems so concerned about). And does anybody really believe BP will corral 90% of the oil gushing from their well by the end of June? Yesterday they managed to corral 0% while 100% spewed unabated for several hours. That was an incredibly bad choice to add to his oval office speech (but BP “assured” him ...).

At some point, through events out of his immediate control (the gusher in the gulf) and through some bad decisions and weak responses, Obama becomes less a presidential leader than Jimmy Carter. Coming on the heels of George Bush, I’m not sure the country can recover from the three-peat (and god help us if it’s a four-peat). The Non-Stipulations of the bailouts are haunting all of us now (well, most of us--the CEO’s of bailed out companies are doing just fine). Obama agreed to give them money and they are choosing not to spend it. Where are the jobs? I’m not blaming the stimulus ... I’m blaming the lack of stipulations to handing over all that cash. We need a stimulus, no doubt. On the heels of the bailout fiasco, we need another bailout (we, the people).

But truth be told, it won’t be any better if what the Republicans have lined up thus far take his place. It’ll just be more of the same old, same old ... much the way change we can believe in hasn’t look so different from what came before it.

Excuse the rambling. There’s a fly fucking with me tonight (buzzing me every two seconds) and I’m just too slow to nail its ass.

Dana King said...

Funny about campaign promises, especially those that pertain to wars. The only promises presidents seem to be able to keep for a certainty are those that get young men and women killed. Everything else is negotiable.

Charlieopera said...

I do think Obama means (or meant) well, but I'm convinced that our system (owned by big business) precludes these guys from being human beings. I don't for a second believe Obama believes in the sanctity of heterosexual marriages ONLY ... or that the war in Afghanistan is a good policy. Unfortunately, I think for people (with the best of intentions or not) to seek (never mind gain) that office (probably any elected office), the game is too rigged against them to do "the right thing".

It is stunning how long these wars have gone on and with no more gain than Vietnam brought us. Things are so bad here, however, the war has taken a back seat ... and the republicans should just clam up about all of it; they're for the war but against the deficit (huh?); they're pissed at the oil spill but apologizing to BP (huh?); they're for jobs but against extending unemployment benefits while nobody is hiring (huh?).

I'll be long dead but sooner or later there will be a revolution in this country. It can't go on forever.