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General Stanley McChrystal managed to allow a reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine of all places to embed himself with his staff.  The General and his staff then managed to utter some locker room level gossipy complaints about the Administration and the National Security Team.  McChrystal is flying back to Washington, D.C. for a Douglas Macarthur moment.

Civilian Control of the military is a vital hallmark of the United States.  Lincoln had his on McGeneral problem, namely General McClellan who he dismissed during the American Civil War for his inept tactics and public carping. 

Afghanistan is a fubar snafu created and maintained by two Administrations, Republican and Democrat.  But whatever the situation, the military leader there must demonstrate undivided repect for the office of the President.  If not, then he should be dismissed.    

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40 thoughts on “Stan Not The Man – A General Discussion

  1. I accept that under the US Constitution, the civilian authority oversees, in all categories, the military. So, by virtue of that Constitution, the military respect their overseers.

    But what if the bearers of the Office of President, Vice-president and other senior civil figures are not worthy of that respect?

  2. Yes- why is it that all of our egomaniacal and quarrelsome generals have Irish or similar names?

    McChrystal has been a fighting general, who leads from the front. He was part of many dangerous nightime raids in Iraq. Where he and his men changed a quagmire from hell to the much better / more stable situation of today.

    He for the most part is exactly the kind of fighting man that our military needs. A smart, relentless fighting man, not a Colin Powell type political general.

    But yes, civilian rule over the military is non negotiable in this country.

    I very much hope that he can stay and continue to try to lead his men through a thankless task, where he has way too little time to implement the strategy.

    – –

    If the civilian leadership is unworthy of respect in the eyes of a general, he retains the ability to resign his command and to oppose the president as a civilian. Or he can keep his opinion to himself.

    Obama is probably not respected by the military very much, just as Clinton was not liked or respected at all. But the people in their infinite wisdom elected those guys as Commanders in Chief. And that’s the end of the discussion. The people are allowed to make unwise decisions.

    – –
    As has been noted, Obama has sided with McChrystal in the debates over Afghanistan. Obama gave McChrystal many more troops and he also signed off on the drone strategy. The General is believed to have voted for Obama.

    This magazine article is a hard to understand " own goal " on the part of McChrystal and his staff.

  3. Obama is probably not respected by the military very much, just as Clinton was not liked or respected at all.

    You are surely not implying that "Awol" Dubya Bush was respected?

  4. He was respected a lot more than Clinton was.

    Clinton as a college age jerk once said that he " loathed " the military.

    Military men were very aware of that quote – and the attitudes behind it.

  5. "A smart, relentless fighting man, not a Colin Powell type political general. "

    Phantom, Colin Powell was a very smart General. The Powell Doctrine is celebrated as the ‘complete’ war strategy, and notwithstanding the fool the Bush administration made out of Colin Powell by sending him to tell lies to the UN, Powell was a brillaint strategist.

    Its a pity Bush etc didn’t adhere more to the doctrine- especially the part about not going into a war until you had mapped your path out of it.

    BTW Mc Chrystal should have been fired for his role in the Pat Tillman cover-up- a shameful episode in US military history.

  6. I agree that the Tillman episode was a dishonorable chapter in Army history – and that McChrystal was very much part of that.

  7. It’s hard to disagree with McC and his aides’ assessments. These guys are obviously not political animals, but thank God they are ones defending freedom and not the Wimps in the White House.

    No matter what Obama does this episode will have negative impact on his standing.

    My favourite summary so far of McC:

    Gen. Stanley McChrystal is a hero—a selfless, fearless and inspiring soldier. He is also something of a military genius. In Iraq, as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003-2008, he created an extraordinary military operation.

    His command center—a vast open hall resembling the floor of a trading exchange—put long-haired civilian geeks next to wiry commandos, and together they uncovered, analyzed, pooled and acted on information that enabled soldiers to launch successful operations at a moment’s notice. They did so in ways that only a few years ago would have required weeks of preparation and rehearsal. He is one of the fathers of victory in Iraq, because his organization dismantled the leadership of al Qaeda there. Few Americans know, or will know, how well he has served this country—and as a shrewd, humane commander, not merely a lethal one. WSJ

  8. McChrystal was just fired. I agree with Pinky that he should have been axed over orchestrating the Tillman cover up rather than given a promotion.

    Now, if they’d just dump COIN and either fight like Ghengis Khan to win or get the hell out.

  9. Before this all happened, Obama gave a definite pullout date for Afghanistan, effectively surrendering.

    McChrystal’s interview was a Hail Mary Pass by a General – a general who actually would like to win the war, btw. McChrystal obviously didn’t agree with Obama’s "surrender by defining the pullout date. " And, he obviously knew that he would be attracting a lot of negative, controversial attention. I’m sure he realized that if he were fired, so be it. By going to a far left magazine and criticizing Obama, he threw down his gauntlet.

    Now Obama is in between a rock and a hard place — he has to actually rationalize his decisions and defend his decisions. He can’t run far and he can’t hide. The question is now out there: "does Obama suck as a Commander in Chief?"

  10. I like McChrystal mostly – except for the Tilman matter, which is hard to forget

    But he did a very reckless thing allowing the Rolling Stone into his camp. He’ll spend the rest of his life regretting that.

    He led the turnaround in Iraq, in the furnace of battle, when many thought the war was lost. No one can ever take that away from him. I wish him well and honor him for his battlefield leadership from the front.

  11. I don’t believe it was reckless, Phantom. The man is a disciplined soldier and officer. There is nothing particularly reckless about him. I believe it was intentional.

    He puts his life on the line for his country – surely he would put his career on the line as well if he thought it necessary?

    He’s schooling Obama, because, yes…Obama is that bad. Obama is a slow learner, and as Commander in Chief he needs some schooling.

  12. He’s a special ops guy at heart. Furiously disciplined in battle, yes, maybe a bit reckless when off duty. I used to vaguely know some SEALs who were like that.

    I’m not sure that the President had much of a choice here.

  13. McCrystal’s statements about Obama are probably not wrong, and he seems to be a good general.

    However you can’t trash your boss in Rolling Stone and expect not to be fired.

  14. At least the Afghan campaign is in the good hands of Gen. Petraeus

    Our Euro buddies will not be aware of mahons’ reference to Stan the Man Musial, power hitting St Louis Cardinals player from the forties and fifties. I believe mahons attended Stan’s first game.

  15. Patty –

    Yes, reading the background it seems an intentional faux pas is plausible, one where the General ends up out of it or with his position strengthened. If not, it would be an extraordinary chain of bad decisions and errors of judgement for a Rolling Stone to have such access and be privy to such loose lips.

    What I find interesting is that it’s Rolling Stone which was the vehicle. Why not the NYT say, or another major MSM publication, or a journalist from a major network? Minded as I am, I’m not convinced they wouldn’t have buried such a scoop.

  16. Their guard would have been up more had it been a NY Times reporter there. Their antenna may have not been activated with a RS guy there.

  17. Yes, interesting Pete. I think the other MSM pubs. would have buried the story. Coincidence that Rolling Stone was allowed access? I don’t think so.

    I don’t think McChrystal is undisciplined or oblivious to politics and journalists. I think he’s quite astute, and extremely disciplined — so I think the story was planted. By him. But we’ll never know…that’s the sign of a good maneuver.

    Phantom: I think the NYT’s guard would have been up! They would have suspected a story plant and might not have been a good vehicle.

  18. The NYT will surprise you. They have their prejudices, but they went after Clinton pretty good, and they recently published highly embarrassing info about the Democratic candidate for Senate in CT.

  19. Phantom: the New York Times under Pinch Salzberg is predictably agenda-driven and far-left. I mean, come on, gee whiz — so they went after some Dem. candidate in CT? So what! That doesn’t mean the NYT’s does objective investigative journalism.

    They are a far left newspaper carrying the water for the Progressive Democrat. Regardless of circulation drop. They are going to need a federal bailout soon, and I believe the Obama Admin. will give them one and call it "Fairness in News" or something.

  20. Patty all newspapers and all news outlets are agenda driven. Every paper. There is no unbiased newspaper or news program in the world. They all have there editorial line. Also, and I may be wrong but I sincerly doubt it, the New York Times is probably not far left. It is on the left of American politics (so its probably centre-right). Read the Morning Star and then see if you can call the New York Times a far-left newspaper and keep a straight face while doing so.

  21. The NY Times is centrist / Democratic Party friendly / left leaning

    They’re not even close to being far left. The miniscule far left in this country hates the NY Times

    There are no large circulation far left papers in the US I believe. There is no market for such papers here.

  22. See that is the difficulty with the whole Left/Right thing. The left wing of the Democrat Party (the lunatic extremist Democrats) aren’t actually that Left Wing. I firmly believe (thanks in part to McCarthy and the whole "theres a Communist under your child’s bed" bit) that there is no left wing in America. The Republicans are a combination of conservatives, liberals and christian democrats, while the Democrats are a combination of liberals and conservatives.

  23. It was the reality of 20th Century Cuba, Russia, the captive nations of Eastern Europe, and China that permanently discredited the idea of the hard left in America. They were all tyrannies that did not produce enough bread.

    We have a lot of immigrants from those places. They in particular cannot be bullshitted about how great hard left solutions are.

    Marx is the God that has failed. It is amazing that hard left views have any followers today.

    Seamus even the word " liberal " has different meanings in the two regions. Here, it is a conservative curse word which does not help explain much

  24. Seamus: " I firmly believe (thanks in part to McCarthy and the whole "theres a Communist under your child’s bed" bit) that there is no left wing in America. "

    and you also seem to believe from the Dearborn, Michigan thread, that women in radical islam choose to wear burkas just as Catholic nuns, exercising their free will, choose to wear religious habits. If ignorance is bliss than you are a very happy boy indeed.

  25. Yes, interesting Pete. I think the other MSM pubs. would have buried the story.

    LOL! What a paranoid world you guys live in. The NYT would have given anything for a scoop like that. Just think of the circulation boost.

    Predictably, Rightworld is attacking Obama for sacking MacArthur McChrystal. Of course, if he had not sacked him they would have condemned him as a wimp. As usual, Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

  26. Peter

    Your last two sentences are spot on.

    As is the observation that this would have been a story the Times wishes it had published.

  27. Phantom –

    We know the nature of Goldman Sachs. We know it’s a vastly corrupt organisation which manipulates governments, markets and clients. We know it has a long and infamous history of creating bubbles and crashing markets to suit its own ends, yet while Rolling Stone has published a long piece on this the MSM has consistently looked away.

    It does somewhat suggest there are truths which these government mouthpieces will not reveal.

  28. Not untrue at all.

    99% of what RS publishes is trash [ if you’re an artist they like, they seem to give every album a rave review ] but once in awhile, they aspire to journalism and nail something or someone.

  29. Wasn’t it the National Enquirer that broke the John Edward’s sordid-affair-and-baby-out-of-wedlock story long before anyone in the MSM would touch it? The MSM didn’t want to hurt Edward’s 2008 Presidential bid. INvestigative journalism by the MSM is dead.

  30. In this article General Stanley McChrystal, to me, comes across as a Peter Pan frat boy bully. No matter how old he gets he will never grow up

  31. In this article General Stanley McChrystal, to me, comes across as a Peter Pan frat boy bully. No matter how old he gets he will never grow up

  32. Sean

    True, but he was a strong fighting general and leader of men. He was a success at the most important responsibility that he was given.

    I doubt that he was the only general to pound down some beers in a bar or to speak with disrespect about political leaders.

    Obama almost had to get rid of him. But we’ve lost a general with a record of success under adverse conditions.

    Generals with his fight do not grow on trees. We’ve lost an important asset .

  33. Patty – Investigative Journalism is not dead, and it has exposed much of the baloney you recite (which is why you hate it).

    Phantom – a record of temporary success at best. We’ve got plenty more where he came from, and some of them might actually be of value.

  34. Patty

    When you speak of " mainstream media ", I think that you are largely speaking of the NY Times, which you probably read as often as Sarah Palin does.

    How did you reach the conclusion that they no longer do investigative journalism? Please show your work.

  35. No, I speak of CNN, CSNBC, my local stations, The LA Times, etc.

    "Please show your work" I can’t prove a negative, Phantom.

    But the fact that it took a so-called tabloid (The National Enquirer) to break the John Edwards story – and then months after the story broke for any of the other MSM outlets to show any interested. Despite the fact that this 2008 Presidential candidate campaigned on his virtuous strong family values while he cheated on his wife (while she had cancer) and had a love-child with his mistress and then arranged for his campaign manager to claim the child as his own,- this despicable behavior of Edwards (the hypocrisy!) largely ignored by the MSM – speaks volumes, don’t you think?

  36. Why the gratuitous Palin slam, anyway? what’s next ? calling Rush Limbaugh "fat?" or me "simple?"

    When are you going to learn not to personalize political discussions?

  37. I think that the NY Times does a lot of investigative work, on local, national and international things. And it does not fall down any ideological line. I’d cite examples, but you’d blow it off.

    CNN sucks. It has no ratings. The US version does not cover international news at all, just as Fox does not cover international news at all.

    The problem with big media is not that it is biased, but that it doesn’t cover the news much at all in this country. Some of it is due to severe economic problems caused by the rise of the internet etc etc. but some of it is that some of us ( wink wink ) only see life as Dems vs Reps cops’n’robbers so they’re content with Fox or MSNBC hog slop

  38. Almost 11, time to quit work – crazy activity these days

    But as respects the " investigative journalism is dead " -that’s a comment that could only be made by someone who doesn’t read the paper. Skimming headlines on the web does not count as reading the paper.

    From todays NY Times, a story with a damaging criticism of the presumptive Democrat candidate for Governor for gross hypocrisy over special interest contributions.

    Good journalists afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. The NY Times does that often enough.

  39. I finally read that article in Rolling Stone and I’m bloody furious.

    The author says really early on something like ‘to maintain the fiction that we have allies….

    I would remind RS Mag that over 300 of our troops have been killed in Afghanistan and we have spent BILLIONS of our resources on that place. If we are doing that and still fall below RS mag’s radar as an ally …well words fail me. Printable one’s at least.

    As regards McChrystal. Well I don’t think you should give a stuff what his opinions are.

    The only criteria is ‘Is he doing the job well?’ Yes? Then good enough.

    This is WAR we are talking about. Patton wasn’t diplomatic but he had the right stuff too.

    To mess around with unnecessary command changes does nothing but hamper your side and render aid and comfort the enemy. Your President is obviously a small man, not really suited to be President. Who’s your idiot President going to install after Pitraeus then Westmoreland?

    Keep McChrystal ask Obarmy Nitwit to resign.

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