THURSDAY UPDATE: I have the greatest respect and admiration for General David Petraeus. He is an excellent choice to prosecute and win the war in Afghanistan. His service will be missed at CENTCOM, but the country is blessed to have such an able general willing and able to assume command of the most important war we are fighting at the moment. Godspeed, General.
ORIGINAL POST: U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal is by all accounts an extraordinary commander who played a key role in the allied victory in Iraq. He has a distinguished record of service to our country for which he and we should be proud. But agreeing to be interviewed and profiled by Rolling Stone magazine, allowing his staff to participate in those interviews, and his and their collective and repeated acts of insubordination to their civilian leaders and to American allies shows a stunning lack of wisdom and judgment. True, the President’s approach in Afghanistan has been seriously flawed, especially the hard and fast “cut and run” date of July 2011. The President has no military experience and his hand-wringing over truly winning in Afghanistan has been painful to watch. So it is not surprising that McChrystal and his team should be so frustrated with the White House. But this is no excuse. Such flagrant acts of insubordination can never be acceptable. Indeed, they must be dealt with firmly for their own sake and as a message to others that civilians run the military, not the other way around, and generals must show the President and his team respect in public and private. The President, therefore, should immediately accept the resignation of the General and his top staff who were involved in this episode. Losing them will be a terrible blow to an already difficult war, and on the eve of a major offensive planned in Kandahar. But it must be done.
HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Rolling Stone: The Runaway General
- Newsweek: How ‘Rolling Stone’ Got Into McChrystal’s Inner Circle
- General Stanley McChrystal tenders his resignation
- Wall Street Journal column by Eliot Cohen: Why McChrystal Has to Go — It is intolerable for military officers to mock senior political officials, including ambassadors and the vice president.