Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal has sparked severe controversy in Washington for a Rolling Stone profile in which McChrystal and his staff denigrate top White House officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the general's diplomatic partners, Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke. Several pundits, citing McChrystal's poor behavior and criticizing his handling of the war in general, are now arguing that President Obama should remove McChrystal from his command. Here's what they're saying.
- About Respecting Chain of Command The Atlantic's James Fallows insists, "It is not about Afghanistan policy -- although, of course it's about that too, with McChrystal as the face and mind of the strategy Obama bought into at the end of last year. It's about civilian control of the military, respect for the chain of command, and the concepts of disrespect and insubordination." Fallows says it's crucial "for the civilian Commander in Chief to act in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and demonstrate that there are consequences for showing open disrespect for the chain of command."
- Destroyed Confidence of White House The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart writes, "When McChrystal enters tomorrow's meeting (if he hangs on that long), he should have his resignation in hand. And the president should accept it. Some might argue that Obama shouldn't do so because there's a war on. But with this journalistic IED, McChrystal has stripped himself of the confidence Obama needs to have in him to trust that the Afghanistan war policy is being carried out faithfully."
- 'He Broke The Law' Central Asia expert Joshua Foust writes, "Basically, either Obama or McChrystal are going down over this. It should be McChrystal - he broke the law. Obama needs to fire him. The issue is a uniformed general mocking the vice president. That is a direct violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ. He should not be allowed to continue to serve after that lapse of judgment/insubordination. Kandahar or no, if McChrystal gets to keep his job after publicly mocking the VP, he has shown he is untouchable."
- 'Stunningly Bad Judgment' National security writer Michael Cohen lists four reasons Obama "HAS to fire" McChrystal: "Insubordination," "Unfathomable stupidity," "arrogance," and "McChrystal's COIN Blinders." He adds, "in the end, this isn't really a close call, McChrystal screwed up big time. He disparaged the civilian leadership; he showed stunningly bad judgment and his slavish adherence to a failing COIN strategy - and the dubious assumptions underpinning it - demonstrates a lack of adaptability that should be deeply concerning. The third one isn't necessarily a fireable offense (although apparently it's why General McKiernan was relieved), but the first one most certainly is."
- No Other Choice Time's Joe Klein sighs, "I suppose he will have to be sacked now. He is not irreplaceable. There are more than a few fine generals in the Army, including Lt. General David Rodriguez, a McChrystal deputy with vast experience in Afghanistan. But it is a terrible setback, a diversion from the business hand at a crucial moment in the conflict. And it is a real tragedy, because Stanley McChrystal is precisely the sort of man who should be leading American troops in battle."