(You can view the beginning of this conflict here.)
Fifty-five year-old four star general (commander and strategist in Afghanistan) Stanley McChrystal walked into the spotlight this week with remarks recorded and published by Rolling Stone magazine (please note that the article is explicit.) The article quoted McChrystal disrespecting colleagues and superiors in Afghanistan such as Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Kabul ambassador Karl Eikenberry. Some of his aids were also recorded demeaning National Security Advisor James Jones, Senator John Kerry, Senator John McCain and President Obama himself.
The uproar in D.C. desk jobs lead McChrystal to say in a public apology, “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”
Colonel Oliver North points out that McChrystal’s staff let him down by allowing Michael Hastings (of Rolling Stone) to “hang around” for a few weeks with a recorder. And that everyone involved in the “embedding” of Hastings with McChrystal should be fired for a gross lack of judgment. North also notes that very few lines of text were attributed directly to the general himself. It is also important to understand that many of these recorded comments took place during the tensions between Obama and McChrystal late last year.
Yesterday, General Stanley McChrystal resigned as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. And General David Petraeus was appointed to take that position but has yet to be approved by the Senate. But this isn’t the first time a General was fired, resigned or forced to resign.
General George McClellan served as chief of the Union Army (under Abraham Lincoln) and was relieved for statements in a letter to his wife that President Lincoln was an “idiot” who was “nothing more than a well meaning baboon.” General Douglass MacArthur (commander of forces in Korea) was fired by President Harry Truman in 1951 for threatening to expand the war into China (while the U.S. was seeking peace.)
The past examples were about authorities disagreeing over strategy or intent, but this time it’s different. Many troops are worried with the new rules of engagement (ROE’s) cutting back on night operations, raids and air strikes. The new ROE’s were making troops more vulnerable. The latest controversy of President vs. Pentagon Brass is not the same as the older disagreements. Col. Oliver North explains,
This president has been shown to be indecisive, detached, disengaged, ambivalent and uncertain in everything from the economy, to securing our borders to the oil spill in the gulf to the war itself. He has been unable or unwilling to name our radical Islamist enemies. He is the only commander in chief to ever announce a deadline for withdrawing troops while committing more [A]mericans to combat.
McChrystal was relieved because a thin skinned president couldn’t take criticism in ‘the press.’ The intemperate, published remarks made by General McChrystal and his staff provided an opportunity for Mr. Obama to show his left-wing base that he is ‘in charge.'” Colonel Oliver North with Fox News, June 23, 2010
Bottom line: If General McChrystal cannot work with his commander (Obama) because the President is persistent in his failure to recognize the enemy and continues to make McChrystal’s army more vulnerable, then perhaps it is best that McChrystal resigned.