Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal Must Go--Soon

The news from Afghanistan keeps getting worse. Just when the facts on the ground are starting to sound really discouraging, Obama finds himself confronted by outright insubordination at the top of the chain of command:

“The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan is being called to the White House for a face-to-face meeting with President Obama after issuing an apology Tuesday for an interview in which he described the president as unprepared for their first meeting.

“In the article in this week's issue of Rolling Stone, Gen. Stanley McChrystal also said he felt betrayed and blind-sided by his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

“McChrystal's comments are reverberating through Washington and the Pentagon after the magazine depicted him as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration.

“It characterized him as unable to convince some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the nation's longest-running war and dejected that the president didn't know about his commendable military record.

“In Kabul on Tuesday, McChrystal issued a statement saying: "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened."
Firing McChrystal at this stage will surely be a political disaster and, for all I know, might be a tactical one as well. But I can’t see that Obama has much of a choice. He not only needs to uphold his authority as Commander-in-Chief, but he needs the occasion to reassert or reconfigure his Afghanistan policy. 

McChrystal has wandered off the reservation before, so the administration should already have contingency plans for his replacement.  How swiftly and decisively Obama acts will say a lot about his executive capacities.

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