Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 23, 2010

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO NOW.... President Obama spoke briefly in the Cabinet Room late yesterday afternoon, and was asked one question by a reporter: "Mr. President, are you going to fire Mr. McChrystal?"

"Gen. McChrystal is on his way here and I am going to meet with him," the president said. "Secretary Gates will be meeting with him, as well. I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment, but I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions."

And with that, the guessing game about what happens next continued.

For every reasonable prediction forecasting McChrystal's professional survival, there's an equally reasonable prediction forecasting the opposite. As of this morning, though, most of the signals seem to point to the general's departure.

America's top military commander in Afghanistan is unlikely to survive the fallout from remarks he made about colleagues in a magazine profile to be published Friday, according to a Pentagon source who has ongoing contacts with the general.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal will likely resign Wednesday, the source said.

By all accounts, the president's paramount concern is with the larger mission in Afghanistan, and if Obama concludes that he still has confidence in McChrystal's ability to do the job, the general will be in a position to keep his command. The key question, then, is whether McChrystal's locker-room-style derision has undermined not only his reputation, but also the larger war effort.

The general seems to believe he has.

During his round of phone calls to top officials of the Obama administration whom he and his team disparaged to a Rolling Stone reporter, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, "I've compromised the mission," a senior administration source tells ABC News.

Whether he did so irrevocably is at the top of the agenda in his Oval Office meeting with President Obama this morning.... "He'll have to have some pretty good answers to some tough questions," a senior White House official tells ABC News.

Jake Tapper added, "But if McChrystal by his own admission has compromised the mission, where does that leave him?"

It's a good question.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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People talk shit all the time in every work environment. What else is new? The only mistake , getting caught. The most important thing is the punditry can speculate an bloviate on the situation filling countless hours of TEEVEE time and Faux nooze can find another talking point to criticize Obama no matter what he does.

Posted by: Johnr on June 23, 2010 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Why does McChrystal hate the troops so?

Posted by: stevio on June 23, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

He has to or he will look weak. And it won't be good for the soldiers' morale in Afghanistan if a general can say any damn thing he wants to while a GI gets crushed for expressing an opinion.

Posted by: J on June 23, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

What's the mission again?

He's used to covert-ops, and is probably responsible for the war going south, due to hatred from those who have been his targets.

This guy epitomizes why our war-mongering is a joke. A very expensive joke.

What's been compromised is the US will to fight two endless wars on top of the oil war in the GOM.

No change in command in Afghanistan will do squat to help us "win."

Why can't we admit defeat and slink home?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on June 23, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

I keep hearing the media compare this to the firing of MacArthur, lets be clear about this MacArthur led his troops to many victories.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 23, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Poor judgment is not a desirable quality in an officer. Just because the job (precisely what is the mission?) is impossible, McChrystal has no right to blame others for his tardiness in recognizing how screwed he is. He deserves no sympathy. He wanted the job; now it appears that he doesn't like it so much. He remains unscathed; many soldiers and civilians cannot say the same.

His behavior--inviting the media to document his dedication and his discontent--reveals that he is more concerned with short-term and personal advantage than with long-term success, which might not owe much to his efforts. And his behavior is aped and amplified by his courtiers. If he were a competent commander, none of this misbehavior would have occurred and there would be nothing embarrassing to document. If any of his aides let something disruptive pass his lips, a general who was fully in command would take an instant to discipline the jerk rather than fly to Washington to plead for his career and for a failing strategy.

What case can McChrystal make today? He and a crew of decidedly ungentlemanly officers are undisciplined, contemptuous of their superiors and of their adversaries, serial failures with every offensive, yet somehow still the people we should entrust with the lives of our troops and the futures of nations?

Posted by: Boolaboola on June 23, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

If the situation in Afghanistan is so perilous, that the departure of ONE individual (albeit a high-ranking one) will jeopardize the mission....maybe it's time to reconsider what the hell we're doing there in the first place.

Fire that clown. Immediately.

Posted by: Simon on June 23, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

People talk about this as being Truman/McArthur but it is closer to Grant/Custer. From what I have read McCrystal should be asked to resign. We don't need him or any of the other cowboys on "Team America" leading so much as a squad.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 23, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

I gather that is was his 'team', and not the General himself who made most of the disparaging remarks.

What he failed to do, was leash his Dogs of War.

-Oh, and then there was Pat Tillman. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 23, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

This will end with McChrystal being turned into the next right-wing savior of the month. The Op Ed pages will be filled with columns titled "McChrystal for President in 2012?" Bill Kristol will simperingly talk him up on Fox and RedState will jilt Palin just to stand in the shadow of his manliness. It will all be quite sickening, but it will be over in a month.
And where did McChrystal get that name? Did he steal it from some 80s hair band?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on June 23, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

I suppose this represents the downside of having an all-Republican officer corps?

Posted by: bob h on June 23, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he was trying to get himself fired? Wanted to get out from under the Afghan mess, and this was a good way to do it.

Posted by: Speed on June 23, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Just curious...Pretty much everything a 4 star general does in the military has significant potential consequences in terms of life and the overall security of the US. If the President has lost confidence in his ability to be a leader as a result of all this, and if McChrystal truly believes he has compromised the mission of the war, as he has stated, then shouldn't he resign from the Army entirely and not just from his current post as head of the armed forces in Afghanistan? In what capacity could he function well without the confidence of the President, those serving under him and with his own poor opinion of himself?

Posted by: Steve on June 23, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. President, this is your wake-up call. The best way to solve the McChrystal situation and get him out of command while saving face for everyone concerned is to DECLARE VICTORY AND GET OUT of Afghanistan! Yes, you were right that in 2001, the invasion of Aghanistan was justified, and it looked for awhile as though the results for the Afghan people would be worth it, since we got the Taliban out of power. But Bush blew it, and seven years later it's too late for a do-over. Admit that you're not omnipotent, as you said in reference to the oil spill, and end the war. NOW!

Posted by: T-Rex on June 23, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

If he goes it will be trouble; If he stays it will be double.

Posted by: John Henry on June 23, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

After sleeping on it overnight, having gone back and forth about the "should he stay or should he go" all day yesterday, this is what I think. Take his letter of resignation and put it in your desk drawer (a la KO's Special Comment last night). Send McChrystal back to Afghanistan on the world's shortest leash, but remove everyone of those cowboys surrounding him, tell him he's going to finish the mission and start sending troops home a year from now. If any of the cowboys have 20 or more years in service, allow them to retire or face a Court Martial. Those with less than 20 years can resign or face a Court Martial. On 7/1/11 pull out McChrystal's letter and accept it.

Posted by: Michigoose on June 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

McChrystal and his staff just showed up at the WH and his staff is not in proper uniform. Obama should send them back out to return in proper uniform.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 23, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

This is the second time for McCrystal, so fire the guy and move on. No place in (what is supposed to be) a civilian-controlled military for going rogue.

Posted by: beep52 on June 23, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I suggest that McChrystal loose a star and be transferred to a command in the arctic to be in charge of polar bears and seals.

Either that of have him replace Gen. Halftrack and command Camp Swampy.

Just to keep him away from Fox News. If Obama fires McChrystal today, by Friday he will be there in front of the cameras.

Posted by: wbn on June 23, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

He should go, and his strategy (the huge escalation) should go with him. This is the excuse Obama can use to change tactics, get out, and save his presidency. Sticking with McChrystal, and sticking with his plan, means endless war.

Posted by: Joe Buck on June 23, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

If the General is "doing a good job" then Obama should just ask McChrystal for a public apology and let him stay. If the General isn't, then drop him anyway.

Posted by: Neil B 23 on June 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Joe Buck, above.

-Lose the battle, but win the war.

We are in Afghanistan for many reasons, and none of them are worth the lives of Americans.

Posted by: DAY on June 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's got to let him know...

Should he cool it or should he blow?

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on June 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Speed. I think McChrystal wants out. The policy that he urged the president to take is proving untenable and he wants out from under before it proves a failure. These kinds of things don't become public by accident. It really is a stunning display of unprofessionalism and disrespect.

Posted by: Meady on June 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't McChrystal face a courtmartial for insubordination?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 23, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

When the wheels come off, changing the driver doesn't help.

Time for Obama to fire the current "strategy", and bring the troops home NOW.

Posted by: Ohioan on June 23, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

My step-father served in the military for a few years before and during all of WWII. The officers that made big mistakes and errors in judgement during the war that included losing the lives of many good soldiers, were removed from their command and sent to DC to push pencils. Maybe they need another pencil-pusher.
Now you know why the pentagon has expanded so much. ;)

Posted by: Schtick on June 23, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK
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