It is typical of the spin era that the first serious “crisis” in relations between General McChrystal and President Obama occurs over a few disobliging words the General and his team spoke about the President and his team. The endless rounds of deaths and dangerous patrols, the delays in finding political settlements on the ground and the ubiquitous ability of the “insurgents” to reappear are not apparently worthy reasons to recall the General for talks, but a magazine article is.
I have always doubted the General’s judgement, as I have feared he is too optimistic. I of course understand his need to be optimstic to rally the troops and keep up belief in the mission. Now many will wonder why he felt the need to open up his operation to such press investigation, and having done so why he allowed such careless talk. Good military performance requires levels of discipline not needed on civvy street.
Now we will see the mettle of the President. Is ill judged gossip in a magazine reason to remove the Commander he told us all to believe in? Will he show wisdom, and use this opportuntiy to review with his General how long this mission is going to take, what winning would look like, and how many more Coalition deaths are likely as a result? Wouldn’t that be a more important conversation than an interview about the words of a magazine journalist?