Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Of lefty rock'n'roll magazines, insubordination and Iraq vs. Afghanistan...

... and this un-godly mess.

As an aside, surely officers in Afghanistan should know that the purpose of Rolling Stone magazine is not to emphasize either their competency or their insight. And as a general rule, anytime a liberal journalist wishes to empathize with a frustrated officer, it is usually to exaggerate the officer’s unhappiness and use it for his own political purposes, which rarely if ever are those of the military. If an officer cannot figure out Rolling Stone, how can he understand the Taliban?

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d) Obama is in a terrible dilemma. If he doesn't fire McChrystal after a second indiscretion, he perhaps looks weak. If he does, it endangers the current effort in Afghanistan and looks like he's silencing an officer for having legitimate worries.

This was our first reaction after digesting this dust-up this morning.

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That’s one part of the problem. Another part is that Obama failed to sanction those who went to the media to fight out the dispute. Neither Biden nor Gates got a dressing-down like McChrystal will get, even though both owe some loyalty to the man in the Oval Office. Biden would have remained a daffy, gaffe-prone backbencher in the Senate had it not been for Obama’s inexplicable decision to choose Biden as a running mate.

Eikenberry is an even more direct example. His memo ripping Hamid Karzai nearly drove the NATO-backed government in Kabul into the arms of the Taliban, and would have if Karzai thought they’d let him live long enough to enjoy his revenge. His insubordination on Karzai exposed the disarray within the White House on Afghanistan. His antipathy towards McChrystal has also been well known for months. Yet Obama allowed Eikenberry to remain in place despite nearly costing the US its position in Afghanistan, and Eikenberry is still in place to this day.

Under those circumstances, it’s not much wonder that McChrystal opted to fight the disputes through the media, too. That doesn’t excuse the disrespect, nor should McChrystal go unreprimanded for this incident and the obvious disrespect for the chain of command that he either tolerates or encourages, as seen in the article. Whether or not McChrystal should get cashiered is a secondary issue to Diehl’s point, however. Had Obama shown more command and demanded more discipline from his national-security and diplomatic team, McChrystal may never have opted to follow suit.

Obama needs to get more engaged and start kicking some ass where it counts. He can start with McChrystal, but until he starts acting like an actual Commander in Chief with his own team, McChrystal isn’t the real problem.

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While those events were unfolding, Col. Sean MacFarland arrived in Ramadi as commander of the U.S. 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. His four Army and Marine battalion commanders built small outposts throughout the city, from which troops patrolled every block. When al Qaeda in Iraq challenged this intrusion, the Americans fought back with overwhelming firepower. Unlike other American commanders at the time, who sought to minimize their losses, Col. MacFarland did not relent when American casualties mounted. "My measure of effectiveness would not be low friendly casualties," he told Mr. Michaels. "My measure of success would be defeating the enemy."

Mr. Michaels explains that Col. MacFarland's military operations helped to convince Sattar that the Americans—then at a low point in their effort to reshape Iraq—would persist and prevail in Anbar Province. So did Col. MacFarland's personal diplomacy. "Instead of telling [the Iraqis] that we would leave soon and they must assume responsibility for their own security," Col. MacFarland recalled, "we told them that we would stay as long as necessary to defeat the terrorists."

With a timetable set for withdrawal merely a year off, this would not appear to be our strategy in Afghanistan.


Harrison said...

The General has put himself - and Obama - in a tight spot. I think he'll stay on... Obama needs him too much.

Road Dawg said...

I have a hard time believing the General is that un-media-savy. This may be his time to have a $h1+ or get off the pot moment with the president. The president cannot afford a resigned general making the Sunday morning talk show rounds and lowering his poll numbers.