Blogs » Politcs Plus » General McCrystal summoned to White House


I was not completely shocked to hear a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine telling Joe Scarborough that General McCrystal would be coming to the White House to explain his disparaging remarks about the commander in chief, the defense secretary, the National Security Adviser, Richard Holbrooke, and vice president Biden. This has been brewing for quite some time, especially since we're losing in Afghanistan. I understand all those positions carry a great deal of responsibilities and ego but the general understands the civilians at the pentagon carries out the wishes of the commander in chief. The chain of command is stressed from day one. The civilians dictate the policies of war. General McCrystal remarks came from a trusted aide, who has resigned. It is surprising that the general would give an interview to an antiwar magazine, Rollingstone. The article describes a military cabal, whose daily criticism of the civilians in charge of the war was allowed to be printed in an article. One instance of this came as General McCrystal reluctantly received an e-mail from Richard Holbrooke, he looked at it, put it back in his pocket, and a member of his staff told him to be careful and not let any of it run down his leg. The article describes McChrystal as being "disappointed" by a meeting with Obama and said the president seemed "uncomfortable and intimidated" by military brass. (The full story is Rolling Stone story, by freelance writer Michael Hastings, is posted here as a PDF. It comes out Friday.)This is after McCrystal admitted that he voted for Obama.

This was not surprising because I read a story in the May 24 edition of Newsweek written by Jonathan Alter, titled “Secrets from inside the Obama war room" where he describes Obama reminding his briefer that this was not 2001 anymore. He reminded the participants that we have been in Afghanistan for eight years, and doing more the same wasn't going to cut it. The White House was angry because the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen and Centcom commander, General Petraeus had made themselves available to the press, to tout their long term commitment to Afghanistan and Iraq. The icing on the cake, was when McCrystal crossed the president, in a question and answer session in London, by saying he could not fight a war where drone aircraft would be the focus on defeating Al Qaeda. Those remarks prompted a meeting with the president on Air Force One in Copenhagen where the president told him how unhappy he was but did not have to remind him how close he came to insubordination.

In October of 2009 the president summoned Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, to the oval office, where the president told them that he was "exceedingly unhappy" with the pentagon's conduct. He said that the leaks and the advance positioning were" disrespectful of the process." He immediately told them that he wanted to know" here and now" if the Pentagon would be on board with any presidential decision and faithfully implement it. A longtime official in the room said that Lyndon Johnson had never talked to one General Westmoreland that way, George H.W .Bush to General Schwarzkopf and Presidents Carter, Kennedy and Clinton had all been played by the Pentagon but never fought back as directly as Obama did. President Obama was sending a message: Don't toy with me. Just because he was young, new, a Democrat and never been in uniform did not mean he was gonna get backed into a corner. After the meeting, Mullen described himself as “chagrined." Mullen always felt strongly about the importance of civilian control of the military, in fact, he made a speech reminding all military personnel to stay out of politics. After the meeting, Mullen and Gates pledged support and promised that conduct would change.

President Obama held a final meeting on November 29, 2009 with Gates, Mullen, Cartwright, Petraeus and Jim Jones. Obama asked Petraeus,"David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months." Petraeus said" Sir, I'm confident we can train and hand over the Afghan National army in that time-frame." In a conference call to General McChrystal, Obama gave him an order" Do not occupy what you cannot transfer." The president did not want our army to dig wells, pass out seeds or any other indication of a long stay. Joe Biden has been quoted as saying" In July of 2011 you're going to see a lot of people moving out. Bet on it"

Power and control is what this is all about because they has never been a general that thought he could not win a war, needed more troops, equipment, time and money. No general wants a defeat in his evaluation jacket. Gen McCrystal is a proud warrior who has served his nation well, but I think his bluntness will cause him to be fired for insubordination. Sure, we need a general of this caliber to lead our troops in Afghanistan but the president cannot let this insubordination slide, what will his administration, Pentagon and staffs think if the president allows any subordinate to not follow protocol of the chain of command.

Of course the right wing talking heads will take the side of General McCrystal (many have not served, and don't know the importance of the chain of command) nor will they go back and read what the generals committed to. Politics will take its usual role, but I think the ruling republicans will take a “wait and see” approach, but I have been wrong many times, when it comes to the GOP...It seems I was wrong on the wing nuts because Rush and Beck are calling McCrystal stupid, saying he should be fired.I'm still holding out, because because it's early ,and we have yet to hear from the mama grizzlies ,Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin's Facebook page.

Everyone knows that we have always extended deadlines and the military does not like time lines but this time they committed to one, and this president will make them stick to it. The American people are tired of this war and they don't see a winning proposition, especially since most of the Afghan war warriors are illiterate and temporary since many leave on their first furlough. That army cannot possibly keep the Taliban from taking over if we were to leave in July of 2011 because who wants to fight for a corrupt government.

I may be wrong, things might change since McCrystal has been up all night apologizing to the ones he criticized and he just might convince the president to extend the deadline.According to Chuck Todd(NBC news correspondent)Admiral Mullen & Defense Secretary Gates have advised the president of their feelings saying that the president is obviously angered but will sit down with McCrystal before making his decision...He stressed that the decision has not been made.The precarious situation in Afghanistan may have some influence in keeping McChrystal but I'm pretty sure the general's staff have to be reassigned or made to resign.