“A General’s Public Pressure” – Ackerman

"In a speech in London on Thursday, Gen. Stanley McChrystal publicly intervened in the debate over Afghanistan. Vice President Biden has suggested that we focus on fighting al-Qaeda and refrain from using our troops to prop up the government of President Hamid Karzai. But when this strategic option was raised at his presentation, McChrystal said it was a formula for "Chaos-istan." When asked whether he would support it, he said, "The short answer is: No."

As commanding general in Afghanistan, McChrystal has no business making such public pronouncements. Under law, he doesn't have the right to attend the National Security Council as it decides our strategy. To the contrary, the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 explicitly names the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the National Security Council's exclusive military adviser. If the president wanted McChrystal's advice, he was perfectly free to ask him to accompany Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, when the council held its first meeting on Afghanistan this week.

But Obama did not extend the invitation, even though McChrystal was leaving Kabul and could have gone to Washington easily. Instead, Obama asked the general to report to the council via a brief teleconference." Bruce Ackerman


I will make a prediction.  If McChrystal does not learn to subordinate himself to something other than his vision of what is right and true, he is going to get fired.

MacArthur was a lot smarter man than McChrystal and yet he suffered the ignominy of relief for cause even though he had not "gone public" against national policy.  There should be a lesson in that.

Truman asked George Marshall, then Secretary of State to look at the collection of communications that Truman had received from MacArthur.  Marshall sat up all night in a room at the White House reading these.  In the morning he told Truman that he should have fired MacArthur six months previously.  The issue was a subtle disrespect and thinly veiled defiance that permeated these messages.  MacArthur was fired and returned to the United States to seek the Republican nomination for president in 1952.  He lost that fight to Eisenhower and spent the rest of his long life brooding in the Waldorf Towers.

I judge McChrystal to be a monkish type.  He would have made an admirable Templar or Hospitaller brother.  He does not seem to suffer frm the disease of egocentric obsession so common in both civil and military life.  His boss, Petraeus, is different; he is more the Byzantine general type.  I am told that he has already laid out a plan for his post retirement political life.  Well, why not?  As a retired officer he would have every right to do so.

McChrystal, on the other hand, is more of a problem.  From all I have heard from those who know him, he is a good man, a "good and faithful tiger."  I doubt if he realizes the potential damage that he is beginning to inflict on our constitutional arrangements.

He was not invited to the White House to represent "the other side" in the present deliberations on Afghanistan because there is no "other side."  Admiral Mullen,for good or ill, is the president/commander in chief's military adviser.  McChrystal is merely a subordinate, one of many.

McChrystal was summoned from England to a 25 minute meeting with the president aboard Air Force 1.  He showed up in field uniform?  He owns a set of Greens (Class A uniform).  He wore it in London to the IISS meeting.  The man does not seem to know his place.  pl

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45 Responses to “A General’s Public Pressure” – Ackerman

  1. Sean McBride says:

    Isn’t McChrystal just another neocon op? One of his key advisers is Frederick Kagan. The lead think tank promoting an expansion of the Afghanistan War is the FPI (Foreign Policy Initiative), which some observers havetagged as PNAC 2.0 — the usual neocon suspects.

  2. Farmer Don says:

    “He lost that fight to Eisenhower and spent the rest of his long life brooding in the Waldorf Towers.”
    When he ruled post war Japan he also lived in the penthouse of the tallest building in I think Tokyo.
    Also reminds me of Lord of the Rings, or Howard Hughes in Vegas.
    A craving for the dramatic

  3. JohnH says:

    It’s hard to begrudge a man who wants the resources to do his job. Many of us have been placed in untenable situations by bosses who refuse to provide the minimum required for success.
    If McChrystal feels he’s being set up for failure, he should just quit…or be fired.
    Unfortunately, it seems he’s being egged on by authoritarians in the conservative movement, who would not be at all averse to a military coup.

  4. Well McCh. may believe he has the backing of enough of the US foreign policy establishment that he is not concerned.
    His year with the imperial grand lodge of US foreign policy, the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, may have induced some delusions of more than grandeur.
    Noting that the resident Council of Foreign Relations “expert” on Afghanistan is among the pro-escalation types with grandiose strategic ideas, McCh. may feel he has some support in the councils of The Council.
    Meanwhile, Max Boot, the Russian Neo-Con, pens this article for the Wall Street Journal (naturally) which is of course carried at the Council on Foreign Relations website:
    “If his experiment succeeds, future commanders can build on the precedent to provide the kind of cultural and linguistic skills that we will need to win the long war against Islamic extremists.”..
    For Boot: “Mr. Boot is a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is currently writing a history of guerrilla warfare”:

  5. Paul says:

    McChristal’s disdain for Obama is obvious: just look at McChrystal’s posture in the photo. On top of that he shows up for a meeting with the Commander in Chief in his jungle bunny garb. Perhaps Obama is not sensitive enough to this kind of thing.

  6. Law Schools teach law primarily by the case method and Socratic Eluskus [sic]! The latter being questioning before adoption of a position. In many ways this training reinforces passive-agressiveness. This is the President’s background and real professional training. Bottom line is analyze and analyze some more but then make a decision. From what I have heard about his pick-up basketball play those who have no “fear” of consequences with the President may end up getting bitten harder than they thought possible. It is interesting so far, however, that is surface calm and restraint, which brought him to the Presidency may indicate intense self-control and maybe something else. Still too early to tell for sure but it will be interesting to find out what the President really believes requires intestinal fortitude of over his opposition which appears to be growing. Personally I think he is poorly advised so some purging after the 1st year looks like could be useful signalling technique to shape up or ship out so to speak. No real administration or personal contacts with the President so all the above just IMO!

  7. Harper says:

    The IISS speech really does seem to be totally over the top, as well as his appearance on Sixty Minutes last Sunday, where he made a similar pitch for a major troop buildup. The level of tolerance for this behavior was, I guess, telegraphed, when the McChrystal report was leaked to Bob Woodward and posted on the Washington Post website, in what seems a pretty blatant effort to impose a decision upon the President. Is there even an investigation into the leak?
    The day after the McChrystal report was leaked, Fred and Kimberly Kagan delivered their “private” proposal for a 45,000 troop buildup in 2010, backed by the American Enterprise Institute. No mention was made of the fact that the Kagans were on the McChrystal team that drafted the report, in the first place. Was the Kagan plan part of the same coordinated leak scheme as the delivery of the McChrystal report to Woodward? Isn’t this reminiscent of the AEI “surge” plan in Iraq, which was a counter to the Iraq Study Group? Same players, same modus operandi, same intent.
    Fortunately, I understand that there is skepticism among to the national security principals around the President over the McChrystal report and recommendations. As I understand it, Biden is the most outspoken voice, challenging many of the underlying assumptions and assertions of “fact” in the McChrystal report; but Gen. Jones, along with Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, are also skeptical (contrary to today’s newspaper leaks) about any troop buildup, so long as there is no clearly articulated strategy, mission and exit plan. And the lack of credibility of Karzai, who will likely be ratified as President, adds to the mess. And the so-called Afghan Army is actually a revival–in new uniforms–of the Northern Alliance, which waged civil war versus the Taliban/Pashtun tribes. 70 percent of the officers are Tajiks, and the desertion rate among the Pashtun soldiers runs between 45-60 percent.
    One factor that is left out of the equation too often, is the issue of “sticker shock.” With an estimated $23 trillion already sunk or pledged for the bailout of the banks, with unemployment skyrocketing as never before, and with a commercial real estate blowout far worse than the housing bubble blowout, on the immediate horizon, can we afford another multi-trillion dollar war with no clear strategic purpose? I know there are alternative proposals, other than a total pullout or a total escalation, that need to be considered. With the apparent positive developments in the talks in Geneva with Iran, there are possibilities of regional security cooperation, to contain the Taliban problem, without a 400-600,000 strong coin program.

  8. N. M. Salamon says:

    Either the people who promoted/advancing Gen McChrystal never heard of the Peter Principle, or Gen Mc\Chrystal is being set up by his immediate boss, Gen. Petreus, for taking the dive as the sacrificial atonement [for the admitted impopssibility of winning in Afganistan sans 500 000 troops, which is not in the cards]. Gen Petreus is protectiong his flank, for failure is under his watch. The only pertinent question is what the pay off would be from the neocon backers of General Petreus!
    Harper is right, the populus and the politicians [sans neo-cons] know thzt there is no war possible oif OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT IS 10%, whereas the unofficial unemplyment rate is past 17% today.
    The rest is posturing.

  9. J says:

    It’s all about ‘brazenness’ of the far-right crowd/Neocons that have burrowed themselves into the Pentagon over the past 8 years. It is ‘them’ that are the cheerleaders of disarray for anything other than ‘their agenda’ which is to keep U.S. in an AFPAK quagmire.

  10. ritamary says:

    McChrystal was always the wrong person for this job. McChrystal was involved in the cover up of NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman’s death in a case of friendly fire. Why were early reports of Tillman’s death covered up, why were his clothes and field journal burned and destroyed? Why did McChrystal approve Tillman’s posthumous Silver Star, a medal given for combat? What was McChrystal’s involvement with abuse and torture of prisoners at Camp Nama?
    Obama gave McChrystal a promotion with these questions unanswered. Was Obama oblivious to McChrystal’s record or is Obama’s judgment just so poor? Not one better person was available to take total control of US operations in Afghanistan?

  11. Fred says:

    It’s a bad idea to grow a wishbone where one needs a spine. I’m beginning to wonder which one Obama has given the passing events of the continued Wall Street welfare, national health care and now the resurgence of the neocons.
    Hopefully someone will put a copy of the Constitution in McChrystal’s morning briefing papers. If his conduct continues Obama should fire him. Let the neo-cons howl. They haven’t won a war since they invaded Grenada. They are damn good at impeaching presidents. Lets see if they really want President Biden.
    The points made about current US economic conditions are well made; however, none of the neocon elite are affected due to their personal wealth or sinecures inside the conservative think tanks or other such organizations.

  12. Brian Hart says:

    The one thing McChrystal could do to help the war effort and the one thing he is good at per Iraq is assassination. Kill OBL and Omar. Just do it.
    With the posturing for troop levels he won’t get because American can’t give them without a draft or taxes. Add to this the silence of Petraeus who is setting up Obama to lose Afghanistan while Petraeus poses as the victor of Iraq..?
    Why doesn’t McChrystal get to the dirty business at hand of killing OBL or Omar with his special task forces? Do it. Just do it McChrystal.

  13. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Photograph says all, which is too much.
    If McCrystal is monkish, then some abbot of the venerable George Marshall order needs to yank McCrystal aside and tell him in no uncertain terms that the state is getting ready to excommunicate him for committing grave errors if he doesn’t change his ways.
    In civilian language, it is sometimes referred to as a “come to Jesus meeting” — a phrase I never quite understood. Perhaps I am too patriarchal, but a more apropos phrase, at least to me, is that if McCrystal acts, not to mention dresses, like that again in front of the POTUS, a constitutional and civilian YHWH will smote thee while the world laughs.
    Petraeus as the Byzantine boss. I don‘t know as it is beyond me. But I have an increasing respect and admiration for the Greek Orthodox Church, ’specially with its take on the original sin business, among other things. I don’t know how they would defrock Petraeus but defrock they will and certainly can do. Can’t help but believe they would do so partly in honor of Our Lady of the Sign — an icon that says all but points to much more too.

  14. par4 says:

    Treason and sedition are in the air.

  15. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    The character and kind of conflict that we assume exists between President Obama and Gen. McChrystal truly makes me sympathetic to Henry’s problems with Becket. The parallels are compelling. Becket’s legalistic and virtually unbending reliance on orthodoxy to cope with the problems of governance after Henry made him Chancellor must have given Henry fits. Becket also believed that his power base as Archbishop of Canterbury gave him the latitude to ignore Henry’s wishes. Moreover, Becket was intimately connected through his family with the merchants of London and is believed by many to have been more loyal to his mercantile interests than he was to the King who made him Chancellor.
    Should Obama end up defrocking McChrystal one can only hope that the parallel does not require Obama to do public penance at the Pentagon.

  16. fasteddiez says:

    Perhaps a George Marshall oportunity is at hand.
    Promote B.Gen McMaster to 4 star (His Qualifications….most importantly, he wrote “Dereliction of Duty.”) Then, give him the Af/Pak portfolio. Platoons of Army Generals will have to retire.
    For a Coup de grace, shitcan Petraeus and replace him with someone like Mattis or Cartwright.

  17. Jon T. says:

    How does Mr. Obama play hoops (for W. Cumming)
    My guess is straight up, hard nosed, full bore and full of humor and perseverance both.
    Body language in all the photos I’ve seen between these two is tense with The General appearing to want to establish dominance and The President saying “Listen, I can be a tough guy too. I’d rather talk it through though and hear you, and others, on this and then we’ll come up with a plan.”
    N’est ce pas?

  18. WILL says:

    The Byzantines done themselves in far more than the Seljuk Turks. When Romanos IV Diogenes lost to and was captured by Alp Arslan at the battle of Manzikert in 1071 he was set free and given generous terms. It was his fellow Byzantine relatives that blinded him, reneged on the treaty, and wound up losing the Anatolian heartland. That was the beginning of the end of the Eastern Roman Empire. Thus when the term Byzantine is used pejoratively it refers to such deviousness and not to the Orthodox Church.
    A question about employment. When all the reservists and National Guardsman come back, can the economy absorb them? Right, I know by law their employers are supposed to have kept their jobs open. How long has these GWOT been going on? Since 9.11.2001?

  19. Bobo says:

    I would hope all would give McChrystal a little more time or rope to see if he can find/agree on a middle ground as that is the political direction we are heading with our Afghanistan strategy. I look at his meeting with Obama as a moment of absolution of his past sins setting a clear path forward.
    To me the man is a soldier of the finest kind not adroit at the political gamesmanship he has been trying to play and actually may have been duped in a minor way.
    His assessment did not say much as to his CT intent and most likely was redacted. Hopefully he can enhance this aspect, which seems to be his forte, in his battle plan for Afghanistan

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Clifford Kiracofe
    I think you are conferring too much prominence on CFR. Its hay days were 1940 and 1950s.
    CFR seems now to be a hodge-podge of people with a variety of ideological agendas; with few being analytically capable of approaching reality with dispassion. Just look at that fellow, Max Boot.

  21. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    As I recall, when the increased commitment of forces to Afghanistan and McChrystal’s appointment to command the operation was announced by President Obama last spring, he used language that tightly delimited the mission’s scope. But when McChrystal arrived in Kabul, he’d hardly been on the ground long enough for his boots to get dusty before he was talking to the press about a nation building project far beyond what the commander in chief had said. It sure looks like the general went over there to play the role of the camel’s nose under the edge of the tent.
    Regarding General Petraeus’ political future, if any, I am reminded of his wife’s comment quoted in a biographical piece I read about him a while back. It was to the effect that “Well, if he decides to run he’ll be doing it with a new wife.” Of course, many a political wife has said something similar but then resigned herself to the inevitable.

  22. Richard Armstrong says:

    The photo of McChrystal meeting with his Commander-In-Chief wearing his Class 3 uniform instead of his dress greens really shocked me.
    I guess things have really changed in the Army since my discharge.
    When one is having a formal meeting with their Commander-In-Chief I think it is the epitome of arrongance not to wear one’s dress greens.
    I’ll bet my bottom dollar that when he speaks to Congress (and he will) that he wears his greens and all of his fruit salad on his chest.

  23. matter says:

    McC should be fired. Immediately. Is it going to be Obama? Or is it going to continue to be Obambi?
    What a giant disappointment so far.

  24. “In a speech in London on Thursday, Gen. Stanley McChrystal publicly intervened in the debate over Afghanistan….”
    So was this authorized by the White House? Did NSC clear and authorize this? Was this run through the Department of State for clearance?
    Or can imperials pimps from the Pentagon just prance around the world in uniform giving provocative speeches which bear directly on our foreign relations?
    Stanley The Pimp (apologies to Frank):
    Frank Zappa:Willie the pimp lyrics
    “I’m a little pimp with my hair gassed back
    Pair a khacki pants with my shoes shined black…”

  25. arbogast says:

    Here’s the lead paragraph in the story in today’s Times about the deaths of 8 Americans in Afghanistan in a single action:
    “Insurgents besieged two American outposts in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, American and Afghan officials said, killing eight Americans and two Afghan policemen in a bold daylight strike that was the deadliest for American soldiers in more than a year.”
    Do you know what “Insurgents” means? It means we don’t know who the [rhymes with truck] killed our soldiers.
    We’re fighting “insurgents”? C’mon. We’re sending young men and women to be killed by “insurgents”?
    This is insanity.

  26. “I think you are conferring too much prominence on CFR. Its hay days were 1940 and 1950s.”
    I take it you are not familiar with the US political landscape and the foreign policy process.

  27. Michael says:

    It is his duty as a human being to speak his mind when he feels it is called for and suffer the consequences as did MacArthur.
    We demand 18 year olds sacrifice their lives to these causes, the least a general can do is sacrifice his career (I doubt his pension is at risk)

  28. robt willmann says:

    Although I am not familiar with governmental policies about public statements made by a secretary of state, a general, or others, the question raised by Clifford Kiracofe about whether Gen. McChrystal’s public statements about a policy were authorized is critically important.
    Given as how people in bureaucracies like their turf and like to exercise administrative authority, I would assume that such protocols exist that certain types of statements have to be approved by someone else.
    As has been noted, the photograph with the original post above showing McChrystal (I assume) on Air Force One wearing his work boots and camo clothing is indeed shocking.
    Moreover, as some have commented above, McChrystal’s body language is assertive: leaning slightly forward and staring intently at President Obama, in close proximity to him. Obama is looking down as he talks.
    During the presidential campaign last year, Obama had a tendency of letting any criticism of him in the media make him respond to it, usually with some type of apology or explanation. I was concerned about that, as he was making it easy for others to get him to backtrack or take time to respond.
    I think that Obama had this meeting with McChrystal in response to the ridiculous media criticism that he had talked to the general only once (I think McChrystal said on TV on “60 Minutes”).
    And back to Mr. Kiracofe’s point: who cleared McChrystal to appear on the 60 Minutes program in the first place; a program which is edited so a certain slant and point of view is easy to create?

  29. Mad Mike says:

    The civilian “Bloggers” are noticing also.
    Who Are ‘The Deciders’?
    By David Sirota

  30. Dan M says:

    MChrystal seems a fool to me and Obama will not be cornered on this. Crucial to McChrystal’s strategy is an Afghan government that stops preying on its people and can extend its influence in places like Nuristan (the post up above). What are the odds of such a government “emerging” in the next decade. Zero. So why is he marching down this road?

  31. J says:

    President Obama need to also fire OSD Gates for his intentionally undermining Presidential authority!
    The smartest thing the incoming President could have done upon taking office was to ‘clean out’ any Bush-Cheney ‘holdovers’ like Gates.
    President Obama IMO in addition to firing Gates also needs to have Gates placed under arrest and criminal charges filed against him for his suborning U.S. National Security.

  32. @ fasteddiez and J,
    I like your styles!! I’ve said from early on, Pres Obama needed to hold a massive housecleaning of the 3 & 4-star ranks. They are ALL POLITICAL – all of them chosen & vetted by the last Administration and then confirmed in their rank by prior Senates. Few, if any, are worth the baggage they bring to the respective wars their troops are fighting. Simple deep promotion of some promising, combat-experienced Colonels (who were Lt Cols and Majors back in 2001) would send the appropriate signal to the remainder– namely, its time to take your extremely generous retirements and join the amen chorus with your friends in the military industry. (Which also begs the question, how many of today’s generals & admirals remain beholden to their retired rabbis now representing the likes of MPRI, GD, LM, Boeing, Xe, et al??? Well past time for the long post-uniform “cooling off” period I think.)
    If/When General Stanley gets fired, the C in C should consider those in Gen Stanley’s chain of command (namely General Dave, Secdef Bob and the “chief military advisor” Admiral Mike). Clearly, these officers have either supported Gen Stanley in his public crusade to force the President’s decision, OR, they failed to curtail Gen Stanley’s borderline insubordination as it was their duty to do so. Trust me when I say, none of these gentlemen have had any problem in their pasts in canning subordinates who “get out of line.” They are as accountable.
    As to the hissy-fit sh*tstorm that would follow from the pearl-clutchers like the Kagans? Simply offer to enlist any and all of them into the fight in places like Nuristan.
    Does the C in C have the intestinal fortitude to make a clear decision and lead? Many are watching. Many more are hoping. And many more are losing faith in CHANGE.

  33. robt willman, all,
    As we speak this story was filed late this afternoon by the Washington Post:
    “National Security Adviser Chides McChrystal
    By Scott Wilson
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, October 4, 2009; 4:03 PM
    “President Obama’s National Security Adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review now underway, saying that “it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command.” …
    When I was in federal service, on the civilian side, when dealing with highly sensitive policy issues and associated information you were extremely careful to follow proper procedures, rules, and federal law.
    One would be looking for guidance from one’s superior(s) and one would take into account the interests of his/her “principal” up the line. Rules and procedures, for example, would relate to public contact, press contact, reporting contacts, authorization for public or press contact, authorization for travel, particularly foreign travel, and the like.
    Every embassy in Washington and every foreign ministry on this planet are concerned about US foreign policy as well as the foreign policies of other major powers such as the Russians, Chinese, and so on. As Col. Lang points out, justice is not always a consideration on the front burner…it’s very hard ball out there and our national interests are at stake.
    To get ourselves extricated honorably from the mess Bush placed our republic in unnecessarily is going to take some sophisticated effort on the part of the federal government….mainly diplomatic effort as nothing will be possible and effective without a regional approach and UN involvement. This then falls into the realm of the Department of State, NOT the Pentagon, to take the lead on with guidance from our President.
    The Secretary of Defense needs to take this into consideration as he manages his department and the problems and issues posed by Petreaus and McCh. among others high flyers.
    If I were advising Senator Kerry, I would suggest the senator call some VERY searching and dramatic hearings for the Foreign Relations Committee per Afghanistan and South Asia. If necessary, witnesses can be put under oath.
    Really serious hearings could cool down some of the Republican hotheads and put McCh. and his imperial pimp friends in their in their places. Such hearings could also help the President in his infinitely heavy burden of leading our country and defending it. He is our President and we live in a dangerous world so I for one do not want to see him fail in his duty.

  34. charlottemom says:

    Of course McC is out of line and totally over the top in challenging Obama. He knows what he’s doing and the drama seems quite purposeful. This is a deliberate and dangerous attempt to create an atmosphere of brinksmanship re greater mideast. Obama is forced to chose a path (better than continually kicking the can down the road?).
    Will Obama side with McC and bow to neocon policy or will he remove McC (or McC resign) and go against the Petraeus, McC military axis. What does the larger military community think of McC – hero or insubordinate?
    Whatever the policy choice, Petraeus will benefit as either course has its minefields. Petraeus reputation intact as a mythical military genius. McC is a pawn in this chessmatch. NYT writes of his presidential aspirations for 2012 (gee, ya think?).
    Quite frankly, for better or worse, we will know the direction of US mideast policy and cease this terrible holding pattern we’re in. Is this policy certitude worth the danger to our constitutional institutions? We’re going to find out.

  35. PS says:

    Seems like General Dave isn’t too happy, either, about being left out of the conversation: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/world/05military.html?ref=world.
    Elizabeth Bumiller gets the “exclusive” on how poor Petraeus doesn’t get to dominate the NSC discussions or go biking with the President anymore.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Clifford Kiracofe:
    I do not believe that CFR is as influential as it used to be.
    Please supply evidence to the contrary.

  37. praxis says:

    With all due respect, McCrystal’s and McArthur’s situations are not comparable. McArthur defied an ORDER, McCrystal is trying to influence a FUTURE order.
    That being said, the ease with which he injects himself in a policy debate he MADE public, by leaking his assessment to Woodward is worrisome to me, on at least two levels:
    – In terms of civil-military relations, it may be construed as a direct challenge to civilian authority. And although I believe it is fine for him to voice his honest opinion in private, he should certainly not appear to be undermining civilian authority.
    – In terms of counter-propaganda, his strategy (presumably to obtain some 40,000 additional troops) is very risky. By telegraphing his intention way ahead of any decision in that regard, he handed over an easy line of persuasion to the Taliban who can recruit more on the basis of “see, more Westerners are coming.” He also provides them with added incentive to attack us.
    How many of our kids will be dead as a result??

  38. Patrick Lang says:

    W/R I think that that Macarthur and McChrystal are in the same hurt box. They both sought or have sought to limit the freedom of decision of their commanding officer to only that which they favor(ed).
    McChrystal is seeking to confine Obama to a position in which he must accept McChrystal’s desires.
    MacArthur, who was a great general, sought the same thing. pl

  39. spanielboy says:

    Using analogies of days gone by, GEN McChrystal would be seen as someone setting himself up to be the duke of the lands he holds. The possible problem is to whether he is self-sufficient in holding the power, especially if resources coming from the homeland start to dry-up.
    For some reason, I really do not have any respect for either of the Kagan brothers or Kimberly Kagan. The reason is that the Kagans are, for a lack of better terms as, either cheerleaders or town criers. In my book, they lack “umph”. They can be the errant preacher proclaiming the raising of a crusading army to punish the heathens, but they lack the ability to be Urban II to actually pull it altogether.
    Even with the power of the AEI whom they represent, their message does not get projected very far. Unless, there is such a man like GEN. Keane (Ret) on the scene. Is Keane associated with McChrystal as he was with Patreus? Or is there another individual lending his knowledge, experience, and influence to change the policy in Afghanistan as Keane had done for Iraq?
    What is really surprising to me is how AEI is associated with McChrystal and his staff. For some reason I had thought Center for a New American Security would have displaced the AEI, especially when someone like Nagl is associated with them. Nagl has floated some ideas over the years about Afghanistan and how the counterinsurgency could be refined to make it better on the ground.

  40. Andy says:

    I think it remains to be seen whether Gen. McChrystal’s comments represent a one-time case of poor judgment or the beginning of a pattern of insubordination. If it becomes the latter, then I think he surely deserves to join the list of fired Generals. For now, though, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  41. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    We know the end game is near when they wheel out retired general Jack Keane. Keane was arguing on the News Hour for COIN and more troops in Afghanistan with Andrew Bacevich arguing for a better rationale, civilian controlled decision-making, fewer troops and counter terrorism.
    Keane had been Cheney’s surrogate and was used by him effectively to support the Petreaus’ surge in Iraq much to the dismay of Gen. George Casey then the Iraq CG. Casey was relieved and ended up as the Army Chief of Staff with Petraeus becoming CentCom CINC.
    I don’t think that Keane will have that much impact on how this administration decides what they want to do in Afghanistan especially after the statement made over the weekend by Gen Jones and today by SecDef Gates but it will be interesting to follow McChrystal’s career path for the next several years.
    For me, Petraeus continues to be a kind of wild card. IMO he’s got the MacArthur bug if anyone does.

  42. Mark Stuart says:

    Is it total fantasy on my part to think that maybe the sight of Mc C dressed in his field uniform might have some serious psychological effect on someone who was abandoned by his father and for whom male authority figures have been totally lacking?

  43. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    re ms’ comment.
    The short answer is “Yes.” It is fantasy for ‘ms’ to think that.
    At a practical level, Obama had a serious male authority figure in the form of his maternal grandfather.
    At a more esoteric level it could be argued that Obama’s academic and professional achievements in the study of law came about due his need to gain mastery over the rules that govern society. And, that in this context, ‘law’ became a personal, social model for governing his behavior that went way beyond what an ordinary father might teach him.
    For both reasons, McChrystal, regardless of the uniform he wore, would offer Obama little if any threat.

  44. Mark Stuart says:

    From what i gather, President Obama was abandoned by his father at age 2. He remained in the US till he was 6 (the psychologically formative years). And then moved with his mother and step father to Indonesia.
    I’m not sure how present his Grandfather was in his life. Nor how critical a role he may have played as a Father figure, as a male figure during these formative years, considering that his mother was already seeing his Stepfather-to-be.
    But assuming he played a major role during those years, i am not convinced that just one male/Father figure is enough during a man’s psychologically formative years to lead to emotional balance. Particularly if most of the presence surrounding him is feminine.
    Also, anyone who has had the misfortune to be abandoned by his/her biological parents, would tell you that no matter how much love they might have received from their adoptive parents, or close relatives, it is never the same.
    Furthermore, never did i imply in my comment that Mc C. demeanor or attire could be experienced as a “threat” by the President. But simply as an emotionally charged element to take into consideration when appraising their working relationship.
    Also, could any academic and professional achievements in the study and mastery of law substitute a father in governing one’s emotional behavior? It probably could as the President might arguably exemplify. But is the emotional and psychological downside of such a substitution negligible as you might suggest? I’m not really convinced. And i don’t think this is esoteric either.

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