The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.
The death of a warrior - physically or politically, is always a sad event, particularly when he has served so honorably for so many years.
However, GEN McChrystal's increasing challenge of the political estate, measured or unmeasured, has reached a level that can no longer be
countenanced. He got a warning in Copenhagen last October from the highest member in the chain of command, yet he has been unable or unwilling to
contain his ego and self assurance. We simply cannot imbue young officers with the principle of civil control over the military on the one hand,
yet, have it violated so publicly and repeatedly by such a senior military commander on the other. The Rolling Stone article (link below) is the
latest representation of the violation and is the talk of Washington and NATO capitals today. We saw the problem brewing with his challenge of
Eikenberry's position last summer; then watched it continue with his close and undercutting relationship with Karzai for the past few months and the
increasingly combative relationships with Eikenberry, Holbrooke and VP Biden.
The representations in the RS article, if accurate, show a leader whose ego is out of control and whose closest staff advisors are unable (or
unwilling) to provide grounding. Some will say McChrystal's situation is the reason why those from the special operations track, trained to
improvise in unstructured environments, don't adjust well to the more structured and political hierarchy of the Army, in which consensus building and
political relationships become important factors. Others will say it is an occasional illness that has appeared throughout history resulting from
the allure of power that is synonymous with generalship. Regardless, GEN McChrystal has served the nation too long and too honorably for anyone to
feel anything but sadness.
The course of events of the past few months in AfPak have made it increasingly clear to the Administration that it would have been better siding with
the majority opinion of the foreign policy community last fall instead of the military command structure when deciding whether to embrace the
McChrystal nation building strategy versus an exit strategy. Now the US is mired more deeply in the conflict and we find a major objective of the
government we are supporting is to prevent us from finding any exit ramp. One would have thought that realization would have diluted the bravado of
the nation building supporters rather than fueled it.
Beyond the situation in which the US is mired and the ability to wrestle any intermediate stability in Afghanistan, I am concerned for the hard won
stature in which the public now holds the military as an institution and for their support for soldiers who serve. This will also weaken the
President and, as we have discussed before on ATS, it is also never good for the nation, domestically or internationally, when the president losses
the support of the American people. If he had any support to begin with that is.
I anticipate GEN McChrystal will be relieved very shortly. Painful as that will be, dealing with the AfPak mess will be far more painful in a world
that increasingly challenges America's influence, resolve and capabilty. Below I have linked the original RS article and reaction articles from
around the world so as to show the kind of impact this sort of thing has on our legitimacy and our efforts world wide.
The Runaway General
Rolling Stone, 22Jun10, by Michael Hastings
Obama Has to Fire McChrystal
TheAtlantic, 22Jun10, by James Fallows
Two Reactions on Civil-Military Relations
The Atlantic, 22Jun10, by James Fallows
US general summoned to Washington
Gen McChrystal made 'enormous mistake': WH
Dawn.com (Pakistan newspaper), 23Jun10
White House Calls McChrystal Comments "Enormous Mistake"
ChinaOnline.com, 23Jun10, by Jiang Aitao
Top U.S. General Under Fire
WSJ, 22Jan10, By MATTHEW ROSENBERG in Kabul and PETER SPIEGEL
General McChrystal: What will Obama do with 'the runaway general'?
Christian Science Monitor, 22Jun10, by Peter Grier
The Night Beat: What the Heck Was McChrystal Thinking?
The Atlantic, 21Jun10, by Marc Ambinder
The Shame of Stanley McChrystal
The Atlantic, 22Jun10, by Jeffrey Goldberg
As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.