Obama-McChrystal-Petraeus Reactions

On NPR this afternoon, I heard a report that some military folk on the ground at Kandahar believed McChrystal would get off with a tongue-lashing for the Rolling Stone piece, particularly since it was his underlings who made the most controversial comments.

I tend to think more along the lines of Victor Davis Hanson:

I think conservatives are making a big mistake citing all sorts of legitimate reasons for McChrystal to have expressed frustration. I agree with almost all of them, but they are not the issue, which remains judgment, the chain of command, civilian/military relations, and the very wisdom of palling around Paris with a loose-cannon reporter.

I don’t think Obama had much of a choice, but to fire McChrystal. While some are calling him “thin-skinned” for doing so, and the president is notoriously touchy, the truth is a CIC has to make it clear that some lines don’t get crossed, and for once Obama did that. The president will simply have to live with those correctly noting that he reacted faster and more decisively to the Rolling Stone article than he did to the BP problem in the gulf, and that he appears to have read the article, but not the Arizona immigration law. And the irony of his replacing his own hand-picked general with a man he all-but called a liar two years ago, well…there are lots of ironies we all have to live with, in this presidency. The press won’t mention it, so most won’t even realize it.

Over at Vodkapundit, Stephen Green notes that Moveon.org (the busiest of bees, and more obedient than professed nuns) has already taken down its principled “General Be-Tray-Us” ad. Eastasia, indeed. Glenn Reynolds, who has a good round-up writes:

Have you noticed how these people are always airbrushing? It’s kind of an admission that their stuff won’t sell if they tell the truth. . . .


Hanson, again:

It is one of ironies of our present warped climate that Petraeus will face far less criticism from the media and politicians than during 2007–8 (there will be no more “General Betray Us” ads or “suspension of disbelief” ridicule), because his success this time will reflect well on Obama rather than George Bush. It is a further irony that Obama is surging with Petraeus despite not long ago declaring that such a strategy and such a commander were failures in Iraq. And it is an even further irony that he is now rightly calling for “common purpose” when — again not long ago, at a critical juncture in Iraq —Obama himself, for partisan purposes on the campaign trail, had no interest in the common purpose of military success in Iraq.

As I said, ironies abound with this president.

Peter Wehner writes:

This infighting needs to come to an end. General Petraeus needs a lot of things in order to succeed — but what he needs most of all is the full support and commitment of the commander in chief. Petraeus, despite his remarkable record of achievement, cannot succeed without it.

Richard Cohen at Washington Post goes all-in on defeatism:

Troops are being asked to risk their lives so the Obama administration can go through the motions. It will fight until it no longer feels it has to, and then it will bring the troops home. If American interests were truly at stake, it would wage unrestrained war — kill the enemy and anyone that gets between us and the enemy. But we don’t do it, not because we can’t do – we’re pretty good at killing — but because we know it won’t get us anywhere. McChrystal is right. Every civilian death produces a family of enemies — six degrees of enmity.

Nowhere in the Rolling Stone piece does McChrystal challenge Obama on his policy or his strategy. Nowhere is he insubordinate. He is, everyone says, a marvelous military man (although, given his role in the cover-up of the friendly fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former NFL star, he is a bit of a liar, as well). But he has an impossible task: a war that cannot be won. If he doesn’t know it, then Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks sure does.

So far, my very favorite comment on the whole situation has come from Anchoress reader EJ Hill, who wagged, here:

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one general may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

Bookworm is not having any:

Obama first seeded the lemons, starting with his long-ago refusal to take either General McChrystal or the Afghanistan war serious. He harvested the lemons when he elected to let his ego lead in what could have been a down-played, and therefore negligible, situation. And he managed to create lemonade by replace McChrystal with only the best general out there. Let’s hope the best general chews up Afghanistan, rather than vice versa.

Jim Geraghty says that Obama’s 2012 campaign may end up being all about war. That’s certainly one way to focus attention away from our domestic travails, and perhaps get the independent voters back on board. But thatwould be the ultimate irony, given that the president doesn’t like to use the word “victory.”

Tunku Varadarajan on the other hand says this whole drama was Obama’s way of taking Petraeus out of the 2012 race. I suppose that would make all of this about not letting a crisis go to waste?

Bizzy Blog: Thinks Petraeus got a deal. I’m not sure I agree. Deal or no, someone has to step up and serve, and be the selfless warrior.

David Goldman:

[Petraeus] will dig himself into a hole in Afghanistan. When the enterprises collapses, Obama will say in effect, “What are you complaining about? I sent your guy in, and he screwed up!” Obama is a disaster at foreign policy and economics, but he’s still the spinmaster.

Jonah Goldberg says Obama has made the best of a bad situation.

So, resigned thumbs up for the move, in general, but I think President Obama should, before he moves on, thank General McChrystal for this distraction from his deplorable non-leadership on the BP issue, where one cannot help but begin to wonder: is the Obama government determined to let the Gulf die?

Don’t miss PJTV’s Trifecta, on that very subject. I can’t help but add that I’ve been making noise about those supertankers for weeks. But I guess we can’t use them if they’re foreign and the president refuses to temporarily rescind the Jones Act.

More:
Blackfive: Is McChrystal wagging the dog?
American Digest: For 663 Billion, we get Two Generals
Historian Betsy Newmark thinks of Lincoln
Ed Driscoll: A valuable round-up
neo-neocon: on the RS piece
Powerline: Obama Changes His Tune
Radio Patriot: MacArther Parked
Greyhawk: Last Man Standing
Maggie’s Farm: Now maybe Afghanistan has a chance?
Pub Secrets
McChrystal Tragedy
Did George W. Bush Just Win?
Obama Lost
More

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    the truth is a CIC has to make it clear that some lines don’t get crossed

    If there was a line, it was already crossed. The question was what to do about it. And in this situation, Obama merely reinforced and confirmed whatever bad things were implied against him.

    Does anyone think Obama is stronger today than he was yesterday? Do you have more respect for Obama today? Is anyone going to say that the substance of what was said about the Administration is wrong?

    By making such a BIG F******* DEAL about this, to quote our classy Vice President, and by looking to kick McChrystal’s ass, to quote our classy Commander in Chief, Obama has succeeded only in shining a huge spotlight on his own shortcomings. There may be plenty of people going along with the crowd and saying that McChrystal was wrong, but practically everyone concedes privately that he was exactly right — it is amateur hour at the Obama White House.

    If the RS article undermines trust in the Commander in Chief, it is only because people believe what was said to be true.

    People said all sorts of crap about George Bush, but it never undermined his trust with the troops because everyone (including those who said such things) knew that it was all bull****. Now, a handful of people say some things about the people around Obama and not Obama himself and, yes, it does undermine trust in Obama because we all know it is 100 percent true.

    Maybe there was no good outcome for Obama here, maybe there was no way to win, maybe it was a lose-lose proposition all the way around, he looks bad if he keeps McChrystal, he looks bad if he gets rid of him, but McChrystal’s only sin, and the sin of his staff, was to actually speak the truth out loud.

    [Michael Yon, who has better sources than either of us, said months ago that McChrystal was in over his head. Perhaps this was the only way he could get out. I mean, it's pretty peculiar that a life-long military guy would give such access to a RS reporter. admin]

  • Bill

    If the Rolling Stone article is true, McCrystal was a loose cannon who had to go.

    I think we should quickly leave Iraq and Afghanistan. We could stay 100 years and solve nothing. At the same time, we should increase our intelligence operations and capability to strike overseas.

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  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Michael Yon, who has better sources than either of us, said months ago

    Forgive me if I give absolutely zero weight to what a reporter has to say about a commanding general’s qualifications. Beyond being a military reporter, just exactly what are Yon’s qualifications to be making such judgments??

    And even if it were so — how does that impact one way or the other how Obama looks?

    Are people going to start respecting Obama now? Respect is something that is earned, it cannot be demanded, it cannot be commanded. “Kicking somebody’s ass” is no way for someone who does not engender respect to gain it.

  • Ymarsakar

    Let’s not get the wrong impression now. It’s not irony, but evil, that abounds with this President.

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  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Let me be clear, if I wasn’t before –

    McChrystal is irrelevant. Whether he stays, whether he goes . . . irrelevant.

    What is relevant is this country and the war effort under this Administration and this President.

    Before the RS story came out, Obama was weak, petulent, thuggish, incompetent, a hinderance to the war, unbecoming of the office, and personally undeserving of respect. Firing McChrystal has done nothing to change that.

  • Ymarsakar

    where one cannot help but begin to wonder: is the Obama government determined to let the Gulf die?

    McChrystal was punished for going against Obama. And so will all those conservativse and gun owners around the Gulf.

    Let’s not get the wrong impression here due to idealism.

  • DeLynn

    but they are not the issue, which remains judgment, the chain of command, civilian/military relations, and the very wisdom of palling around Paris with a loose-cannon reporter.

    This makes so much sense. Great blog post, Anchoress.

  • bt

    As the World War II saying goes, “Loose lips sink ships.” The Rolling Stone “interview” didn’t strike me so much as an interview but more as an eavesdropping. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

  • Joe Odegaard

    Big changes are needed in the country & before big changes you usually have a weak president, so in a way this is all hopeful.

  • Beth

    This article comes out just in time to chart a course away from the admin’s losing strategy, doesn’t it? Hmm.

  • Mimsy

    I agree with Bender on this:
    ~Before the RS story came out, Obama was weak, petulant, thuggish, incompetent, a hindrance to the war, unbecoming of the office, and personally undeserving of respect. Firing McChrystal has done nothing to change that.~

    As usual, Emperor Drama Obama has let loose a production in the Circus Maximus intended to distract the public from real issues.

  • turfmann

    Saying the Obama was right to fire McCrystal is like claiming that a broken clock was functional just because you happened to consult it at the two times a day it was right.

    Make no mistake that the McCrystal kerfuffle is symptomatic of a much larger problem – The Radical Transformative President.

    If McCrystal was fired because of statements made by him and his subordinates, and that the commander is responsible for those statements – then the same must logically be true of Obama.

    [I don't think anyone is saying that there are not serious problems in the WH. Only that he really had no choice but to make an example of McChrystal. -admin]

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    McChrystal’s first mistake is that he voted for Obama. Did you catch that in the Rolling Stone article? Frankly I never got good vibes out of McChrystal. He seemed like a loose cannon every time I saw him on TV. I read somewhere that a comrade officer said this out burst was completely typical of McChrystal and that he was not surprised. He always has had a low opinion of the civillian ranks and expressed it openly. He may not have realized that Rolling Stone would print it all, but that’s his naivete. His character became his demise. If I had been president I would have relieved him of the command as well. Petraeus seems so much more competant and in control. I’m glad we made the switch. Now I think everything McChrystal said was probably true, but he can’t do what he did.

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  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    And while I support the decision to replace McChrystal with Petraeus, I completely agree with Bender on this:

    “Let me be clear, if I wasn’t before –

    McChrystal is irrelevant. Whether he stays, whether he goes . . . irrelevant.

    What is relevant is this country and the war effort under this Administration and this President.

    Before the RS story came out, Obama was weak, petulent, thuggish, incompetent, a hinderance to the war, unbecoming of the office, and personally undeserving of respect. Firing McChrystal has done nothing to change that.” -Bender

    Well said.

  • Doc

    Jim Treacher helped point out 3 major errors in judgement on the General’s part:

    He talked to Rolling Stone
    He voted for Obama
    He likes Bud Light Lime

    Three strikes and you’re out.

  • Lisa

    I agree with Bender’s points. Though I’d add that McChrystal is relevant in that he did the country a great favor by shining the light on the oil slick called Obama and his quagmire in Afghanistan. Also, McChrystal is politically left which leads me to believe his insubordination was no mistake, in other words he wasn’t duped by some reporter. It’s not a common “mistake” for our military to make.

    Being forced into the only right decision is not leadership. Obama showed no real leadership in this event. Though, this could actually go on record as Obama’s first real, quickly made “decision” since taking office. If only that were the truth…

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  • dick

    What I found interesting on this one is that the leftist commenters on Althouse tried to say that the General Betray Us ad came from the conservatives and not the leftists. The rewriting of History has begun and deleting the ad and then claiming it was the other guy who did it is just the start of the gambit. We must not let them get away with rewriting although they will try over and over again. We have already seen that the leftists will lie and lie and then lie some more.

    [I anyone would be interested in seeing that comment, it starts at 2:50 PM...-admin]

  • newton

    “is the Obama government determined to let the Gulf die?”

    To ask the question is to answer it, my dear Anchoress.

    I’ve said it before: the Gulf states didn’t vote for The One. So, he couldn’t care less if voters in LA, MS, AL and even TX lose their livelihoods.

    Serves them right, in his and his friends’ twisted and evil minds.

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  • Hawsepiper

    I workin the Jones Act trade and it is not impeding the use ofthese ships. The Jones Act regulates the use of American Vessels calling between US ports, not vessels coming in from overseas. Just like cruise ships that take passengers in US ports, these vacuum ships would be able to work out there. They don’t even have to call in to port. they can be tended and serviced by the large off-shore supply fleet in LA ans MS thatnormally service the rigs. Clean up the oil and put people to work!

    The jones Act protects our transportation infrastructure from being over run by foreign competition (think domestic air travel) and retains a pool of professional mariners who manships that provide critical sealift for our armed forces in time of national crises. Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, and every war we fought since 1775 are cases in point.

  • http://jcrue.wordpress.com jcrue

    My suggested headline: Prom Committee Chairman fires Varsity Football Captain

  • Sally June

    “…Moveon.org (the busiest of bees, and more obedient than professed nuns)…”

    Anchoress, you officially made my week with that one!

  • http://newestwear.com Randy Handbag

    Let’s be clear because there seems to be confusion: McChrystal was not fired for his opinions, or for telling the truth. He was fired for publicly insulting and undermining his boss(es). McChrystal was surely capable of airing his opinions and home-truths in private with the relevant parties, and talking so contemptuously in public of his superiors displays monumentally poor judgment. He would not have hesitated to fire any officer beneath him who behaved in the same way, and for good reason.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    That is true Randy.

    It also beside the point. Or, if some insist on it being the point, it is an exceedingly minor and inconsequential point.

    Whether he should have been fired or should have been kept on, the whole matter is already past tense. Obama, on the other hand, is with us for another two-plus years, and THAT is the only relevant point.


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