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Obama Fires General McChrystal But Does Not Change His Flawed Afghan Strategy

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Posted on June 24 2010 2:00 pm

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President Obama got rid of his top Afghanistan war commander, General Stanley McChrystal, following the publication of an article in Rolling Stone magazine containing insulting comments by the general and his aides about the president, the vice president, U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan and members of President Obama’s national security team.

There is no question that General McChrystal showed incredibly poor judgment in allowing a left-wing writer for Rolling Stone to follow him around for an extended period of time while venting his frustrations with the Obama administration. But there is a message underlying the critical comments that Obama seems to have ignored.

While the insults would not seem to me to rise to a fireable offense, I defer to the military experts who believe that Obama had no choice but to relieve the general from his command.

For example, Fox News military analyst Lt. Col. David Hunt argued on the “O’Reilly Factor” a couple of nights ago that McChrystal broke one of the military’s cardinal rules:

If anyone in McChrystal’s chain of command said anything close to this, he’d be fired. You can not do this in the chain of command – there is never a time you can say anything like this about your military boss, and certainly not your civilian leadership. McChrystal is a good man but he made a big mistake.

Maybe some good will come out of this episode since the architect of our victory in Iraq, General David Petraeus, will be taking McChrystal’s place. Recall the irony, however, that one of Obama’s biggest supporters during the presidential campaign, MoveOn.org, had taken out a half page ad when Patraeus was testifying before Congress on his Iraq war strategy.  The ad contained a picture of General Patraeus under this headline:

General Petraeus or Betray Us?

Has Obama learned anything from McChrystal’s grousing, other than to take Rolling Stone more seriously?  From his public comments on the matter, it does not appear so. President Obama seemed to dismiss out of hand the message of frustration underlying General McChrystal’s critical comments.

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