It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I hold President Obama in very low regard. I believe he is a man completely out of his depth, has shown little leadership, has sponsored fiscal and economic policies that are disastrous for the country, and is an enthusiastic supporter of abortion. It may come as a surprise to some of our readers that I believe one of Obama’s critics should be fired from his job.
General Stanley McChrystal is the head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. He unwisely agreed to be interviewed for a story about him in Rolling Stones. The article may be read here. In the article the General is fairly uncomplimentary about Obama and most of the Obama officials he has encountered:
When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. “I want the American people to understand,” he announced in March 2009. “We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan – then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan – and replaced him with a man he didn’t know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.
Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f—–g war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
As it happens I think McChrystal is largely accurate in regard to his acerbic obseravtions about the Obama administration, and if he were saying them after he resigned or retired, I would be cheering him on. However, civilian control of the military is a key aspect of our system. The President is the civilian commander-in-chief of the military. Disrespect shown to him by a high ranking officer is an inexcusable act of contempt for the concept of civilian control. It is also against regulations:
888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
If McChrystal is not fired it sends the wrong message to every member of the military. McChrystal crossed a line that should never be crossed by the military in a democracy. In his memoirs after retirement McChrystal could condemn Obama as much as he wishes. On active duty he should keep his personal opinions to himself, and he should certainly have more brains than to share negative opinions about his civilian superiors with a member of the media.