The fallout from the Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal, the Allied commander in Afghanistan, likely will bolster the public perception of Barack Obama as weak and ineffectual. Coming in the wake of criticism of his handling of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, this may greatly damage the President.
The introduction to the Rolling Stone article reads, “Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”
The article is called “The Runaway General.”
McChrystal has been recalled to Washington by his commander-in-chief and is likely to receive a public dressing down. He reportedly has offered his resignation as theater commander to President Obama, who has the choice of accepting or rejecting it after meeting face to face.
New York Tmes reporter Dexter Filkins reported today, “An angry President Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan to Washington on Tuesday after a magazine article portrayed the general and his staff as openly contemptuous of some senior members of the Obama administration.”
The senior media adviser to the general already has resigned, according to Reuters.
General McChrstal has issued a public apology. His mea culpa and an act of contrition before his commander-in-chief might save the 55 year-old military commander’s career.
The Rolling Stone Profile
The Rolling Stone profile is rather remarkable for General McChrystal and his aides do not cover up their contempt for President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of the Obama administration. The only Obama Administration member who gets a pass is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom McChrystal is grateful to for her unstinting support of his mission.
In addition to insulting the Vice President (who considers himself an expert on foreign affairs but who opposed the general’s request for more troops), McChrystal and his aides insult the President’s personal envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, long-time diplomat Richard Holbrooke, and Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry,, a former three-star general. They also insult former Marine General James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, calling him a “clown” who is stick in 1985, fighting the Cold War.
Even more remarkably, McChrystal denigrates his commander-in-chief, Barack Obama. Obama is portrayed as out of touch, intimidated by the top Pentagon brass. The commander-in-chief of the armed forces is portrayed by aides as more interested in a photo opportunity than having an in-depth dialogue with McChrystal when Obama summoned the general to the White House to assume the Afghan command. The impression is that McChrystal and his staff thinks Obama is a weakling.
An aide tells Michael Hastings, the author of the article, about the meeting between the two men: “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his [expletive] war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
Will McChrystal Be Fired?
A Washington Post readers’ poll on its Web site asking the question on whether General Stanley McChrystal should be fired overwhelmingly found that he should. Out of 2,078 votes cast as of noon on June 22nd, 72% of respondents said Obama should sack the general while 24% were opposed. Four percent were unsure.
James P. Pinkerton, in a piece on Fox News’ Web site, believes that General McChrystal will not be fired.Citing the cases of the sacking of Major General George McClellan by President Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War and of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur by Harry S Truman during the Korean War, Pinkerton claims that Obama will not fire McChrystal for political reasons. Obama does not want to see the general wind up on the 20102 Republican Presidential ticket.
Both McClellan and MacArthur had political ambitions. “Little Mac” actually won the 1864 Democratic Presidential nomination and faced off against his former Commander-in-Chief in November. Lincoln, bolstered by General William Temcumseh Sherman’s conquest of Atlanta and Georgia, won.
“Dugout Doug” MacArthur had designs on the 1952 Republican Presidential nomination, but another General of the Army, Dwight David Eisenhower, snagged the GOP nod. Ike went on to serve two terms as one of the most popular Presidents in U.S. history.
Aside from General MacArthur’s public defiance of President Truman (who vetoed MacArthur’s desire to use atomic weapons and attack Communist China), there has been nothing quite like this since the early ’60s. Major General Edwin Walker, commander of the 24th Infantry Division in West Germany, was fond of indoctrinating his troops with anti-communist literature from the John Birch Society.
Walker also called Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson — all Democrats — as “pinkos.”
In 1961, Walker was relieved of his command by President John F. Kennedy and reassigned to a training operation in Hawaii while his actions were investigated. Walker resigned from the military (forfeiting his pension by doing so) and became a figure in right-wing and racist political circles. Ironically, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man held by the Warren Commission to be the sole assassin of the man who relieved Walker from his command, had earlier tried to assassinate the controversial general.
General George S. Brown, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, made anti-Semitic remarks to the press, claiming that Israel had become a burden to the U.S. military. The Air Force general said that Israel had too much political influence in Congress and over the media due to the clout of Jewish bankers. He was reprimanded by President Ford but allowed to serve out his term.
Interestingly, James Jones — the “clown” according to McChrystal’s aides — had to apologize for an “inappropriate” joke he made about a Jewish trader and the Taliban earlier this year.
Fox News, Why Obama Won’t Fire McChrystal
Library of Congress, Lincoln Fires McClellan
New York Times, Excerpts From Rolling Stone’s McChrystal Profile; McChrystal Is Summoned to Washington Over Remarks
Reuters, Top aide to General McChrystal resigns
The Telegraph, General James Jones and the Jewish joke: what was he thinking?
Time Magazine, Stan McChrystal: The New U.S. Commander in Afghanistan
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1897542,00.html#ixzz0rdtGLUAH
U.S. News & World Report, Truman Firing of MacArthur Hurt Approval Rating but Saved War With Red China
Washington Post, Obama has free rein to act on McChrystal, but system is still complex