Obama-McChrystal-Petraeus Reactions

Obama-McChrystal-Petraeus Reactions June 23, 2010

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.


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

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