Tuesday, June 22, 2010

General McChrystal-Insubordinate or Sending a Message?

The recent Rolling Stone article that exposed General McChrystal’s dissatisfaction with the Obama administration has caused quite a ruckus. It still remains to be seen, at the time of this writing, whether the General will be fired or resign due to the indignation of his Commander in Chief. The general consensus appears to be that the General was reckless in his speech and lowered his guard while talking to the Rolling Stone reporter. It appeared to be a foolish move on his part. However, the General is no fool; he most certainly knew his comments would be insubordinate, but also knew they would be published internationally. The question has to be asked: were the comments foolishness or a calculated effort to get his message out to protect his troops in the only way possible?

To understand why this has caused such a kerfuffle, you have to understand military structure. The President is a civilian (and in this particular case, a civilian who has never come near to having military experience), but he is also the Commander in Chief, the ultimate authority to the military. In the military world, the chain of command is everything. Insubordination is a cardinal sin and can wreck a military career quickly. So, General McChrystal had to know full well what his comments meant in the military world, yet he went ahead with them anyway. Why?

Perhaps General McChrystal knew the only way to protect his troops was to get the word out on the incompetence of the Obama administration-and the only way to do so was publicly and perhaps at the cost of his military career and pension. For a man to make such a sacrifice must mean he felt deeply about his cause. Troops are dying in Afghanistan, sometimes because it is a war and deaths occur, and sometimes because of politically correct orders from above. Consider that Obama is worried more about global opinion than he is in waging a successful war, or in protecting the lives of his own countrymen. Witness the ridiculous order given to troops in Afghanistan to not patrol areas where they may encounter hostiles…excuse me, isn’t that what they’re there for? And the politically correct commands not to destroy property, instead forcing troops to risk life and limb to search booby –trapped buildings. These insane orders are killing our troops, and had to be horrifying for a general to put out to his own people.

Perhaps General McChrystal, who actually served out in the field, unlike his Commander in Chief, was no longer willing to remain silent while soldiers died under ridiculous policies. Perhaps he spoke up the only way he could, trapped as he was by the military chain of command. If the White House allowed the Rolling Stone interview (and they had to for him to give it), perhaps he felt obligated to give Americans a good view of what is going on inside the Administration. After all, the only way to expose incompetence is to bring it into bright sunlight, which cannot be done while you are worried about insubordination charges. Perhaps the General took matters into his own hands and risked his job to help decrease the risk to his troops.

This may result in us losing a good General, who by all accounts was doing an excellent job both with the Afghan government, population and his troops. Even NATO, the PC global army, does not wish him gone, recognizing how valuable he is to the effort. It remains to be seen whether the President will consider his wounded pride more valuable than the lives of his troops and the success of the war. It appears that General McChrystal has taken a high stakes gamble-and he is to be commended for putting the lives of his troop above his own personal career. Would that more of our politicians could find the courage to do the same.


  1. Very good analysis. You would have to believe that Rolling Stone also has a degree of professionalism and the journalist - after dropping his jaw to the first criticism - would've chimed, "General, I'm sorry but shouldn't this be off the record, or re-quoted?"

    Unless they have a tendency to send 17 year olds to the frontline to interview generals.

    McChrystal knew what he was doing and it was probably to protect his troops from ineffective policy. What is shameful is that the General is not just criticizing President Obama, but the Office of President and the Constitution. By showing such a degree for the American structure in such a way, you humiliate America as a whole.

  2. Thank you for the comment. I agree that is embarrassing for America as a whole, but I am sure that the General knew what he was doing. Some people will criticize him for this, but sometimes you have to stir up some bad to get a lot more good going. Obama is truly the one humiliating us with his actions.