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Thursday, June 24, 2010

General McCrystal

I have avoided commenting on this imbroglio because I have strong views, but I also felt I wanted to see how President Obama handled this situation rather than stir the waters even more.

Frankly, from seeing the headlines and without reading any of the stories it seemed to me that General Stanely McCrystal had to go.  He is not the first and he won't be the last, assuming this Republic lasts another 200 years.

The late H Normal Campbell, who I first met in 1960, got into hot water over his remarks about the then President on May 24 1993 as part of an awards program at a US Air Force unit on a Dutch base in the Netherlands.  As a Washington Post article at the time noted, "Military law prohibits contemptuous comments by officers about their civil leaders."  It was the end of the General's career in the Air Force.

That is not to say his firing wasn't unfortunate.  The war in Afghanistan is important business, but General McCrystal is not the ultimate authority, President Obama is.  While I think Secretary of Defense Donal Rumsfeld was a little childish in telling the military chain of command, back around 2002, that they should stop using the term Commander-in-Chief, in a way he is correct, in that in the US System, the Constitution calls out that the President is the Commander-in-Chief.

And what about General Petraeus?  He did the job in Iraq and got promoted to the Command of US Central Command out of it.  Now he is taking a positional demotion (but not a rank demotion) and will be working for the new Commander of US Central Command, the person who replaces him.  I assume he gives up the nice house on MacDill AFB, (on Staff Drive) and he and his wife will have to move into new quarters, while his successor moves into his house.

That said, I expect he will do as good a job as can be done.  Here is the view of Analyst Tom Ricks, published in The Washington Post.  It seems like a good assessment.

For those who say this was a move to get him out of the way in 2012, I think that General Petraeus has been plain about not wishing to run.

Here is a comment on Freelance Correspondent Michael Yon's view on the situation.  I tend to trust Mr Yon.  Also please note that he is supported by us, his readers, and not by some newspaper or magazine or other manifestation of the MSM.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The use of the term, I believe, we picked up from the British during WWII.  They used it liberally.  We adopted it, along with Supreme Allied Commander.


ncrossland said...

Don't cry for Dr. Dave. He is the American Caesar reincarnate. Since Doug, there has not been an Army general officer who has been more cold and calculating.....the consumate political animal. Dr. Dave invests purpose in everything he does and is the quintessential superhuman military genious. From his first moments as a plebe at Hudson High to today, he has always positioned himself well...and this is not an exception.

The highway of history is littered with the cast aside bodies of military men who held honor and integrity above political convenience. LeMay, Abrams,
Abizaid, McDonald, Dugan, Fogleman, just to name a few. Even Mosely was let go because he swam against the tide.

I worked once for a general officer who told me in no uncertain terms that he had no use for me (or anyone else) who stood next to him and whispered in his ear how right he was and how good he was. He said, "Hell, I know that already, why else would I do what I am doing?" He told me that I would be of use to him only if I told him what he was doing wrong. He knew of course that his authority was absolute and that whether or not I agreed with it, an order is an order. But, behind closed doors, we shared some very blunt discussions......and sometimes I got to be the eagle....briefly....and sometimes I was the statue.....frequently). My favorite bailout line was, "Well, I'm just saying......."

Most military leaders today only want to hear how wonderful they are.....and that is because they work for narcissists who will counter nothing less than total adulation. That is why McChrystal is now free to become independently wealthy and enjoy a well-deserved life of gentlemanly leisure.

Dr. Dave......well.....hide and watch. Don't listen to what he what he does.

Craig H said...

I refrained from comment out of respect for never having served... (Though, I have to say--"Commander In Chief" and "not the Commander In Chief" are concepts pretty clear even to civilians).

My pique is with those who have jumped upon this McChrystal brouhaha to suggest it's somehow an example of presidential shortcoming. (As if someone noble had had the vision to "speak his mind", and the misfortune to work for a coward and be punished for it).

If you're pro-military, (as I like to believe I am), I cannot see how you can condone insubordinate remarks, or applaud anything short of there to be a consequence for same.

The issue is not whether McChrystal is right or wrong in his opinions--it is that he is clearly wrong to express them to anyone other than his superior officer--military or civilian. I'd be fired if I mouthed off to the press any shortcomings in my CEO or his policies, and I have no objection that a general enjoys the same responsibility for discretion.

ncrossland said...

I wonder if the folks under Ken Lay decided to shut their cake holes because...well...the boss IS the boss. We have many, many neat little axioms to excuse/justify our political correctness/convenience. One of "Cooperate, graduate."

I find it quite interesting too that the "public" is all atwitter in sympathetic commentary that poor Barry had to fire this brash, undisciplined General because he spoke out against THE ONE.....well...actually...HE didn't...his subordinates did....but...never let a good photo op pass.....

Now...."back in the day" of was open season and nobody frankly cared. How many general's revolts happened???? The ones we know of???

BTW...a GO never REALLY for General Umptyump who goes on national TV (for a nice little stipend) to flay the current guy in the wheelhouse is in fact committing about the same offense as the youngin' still wearing the uniform. Nobody wants to prosecute it because it looks..."too thin skinned" and "too repressive" go after the "low hanging fruit".....

How interesting.