Tuesday, June 22, 2010

General McChrystal's MacArthur Moment!

McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged.  The Boss was pretty disappointed." -- An excerpt from "The Runaway General" a Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings, which has become the top item of the Washington news cycle and may bring about the dismissal of  General Stanley McChrystal.

There's an old adage in the military that loose lips sink ships, no one may now know that better than four star US Army  General Stanley McChrystal, top commander of the Afghan War and perhaps, the soon to be dressed down former top commander of the Afghan War.

McChrystal has been summoned back to Washington, scheduled to meet the President early on Wednesday morning, this after a fire-storm of controversy stemming from a Rolling Stone magazine article, which has the General giving the  impression of a lack of respect of the chain of command, in particular towards the Commander in Chief.

While the Rolling Stone article never seems to quote the General himself, the background and talking points of his numerous aides reflects the view that the General has of the Administration's top officials, including the President, and with the single exception of  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it's not a particularly flattering view of leadership, nor it would seem is it a particularly flattering exhibition of leadership from the General himself.

The idea that the General's aides were so quick to offer such incendiary on the record commentaries to a Rolling Stone reporter suggests that the code of military behaviour may be in need of a review from the Pentagon, as it would seem that there is a disconnect from the concept of civilian oversight on the military, especially during a time of war.

Washington is abuzz with speculation as to what fate will befall the General upon his one on one session with President Obama, the over under however suggests that by day's end he won't be making any return plans to the Afghan theatre.

The Rolling Stone article can be found on the magazine's website, providing remarkable access to a senior military leaders inner most thoughts and observations, an amazing snapshot of America's involvement in Afghanistan and one of interest to Canadians, who have a vested interest in all events from Afghanistan.

The General was overseeing a NATO battle plan, the direction of which has had a major impact on the fate of Canada's contribution to that mission, one which has seen this country's military suffer more than its share of tragedy in the pursuit of those plans.

Through history, there have been these watershed moments in a military campaign where the military and political agendas are no longer in consort.

There are two particularly famous dressing downs in the last century, the Second World War reprimands for  General George  Patton, who spoke out a few times to often and found himself sidelined at key points of that war, while Korea brought perhaps the most famous of showdowns  between Commander in Chief and his Generals with the removal of Douglas MacArthur from his command by President Harry Truman.

It's from that past template that President Obama will find his own place in the history of the political - military dynamic, the General having put the President in a rather unfortunate spot from which will require much contemplation by the President on what is the best course of action for the task of Afghanistan, to accept an apology and turn the page, or for the President to do what many say he must and remove his chosen General.  

Stars and Stripes-- McChrystal forces Obama into a no-win situation
New York Times-- McChrystal’s Fate in Limbo as He Prepares to Meet Obama
New York Times-- General Faces Unease Among His Own Troops, Too
Los Angeles Times-- Gen. McChrystal's job hangs in the balance
The Washington Times-- Obama calls McChrystal on carpet over interview
USA Today-- Fire McChrystal? A new test for Obama
Fox News-- Officials: Gen. McChrystal Prepared to Resign
MSNBC-- Can Obama afford to fire McChrystal?
CNN-- Obama 'angry' after reading McChrystal's remarks 
Globe and Mail-- Volcanic Obama set to erupt on McChrystal
National Post-- McChrystal future in doubt after Rolling Stone comments
Toronto Star-- U.S. Gen. McChrystal could face court-martial

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