President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of American forces in Afghanistan and tapped as his replacement the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.
ROLLING STONE Magazine, constituted gross insubordination and disrespect for the chain of command, not to mention contempt for civilian authority.
In fact, McChrystal’s statements were so grossly insulting and intentionally inciting that one cannot simply shrug and attribute them to inadvertent slip-ups, in the macho atmosphere of a war zone.
Now, lest there be any mistake over motives, let me first establish one point: no one has been more vocal, across the last dozen years, in support of the United States Officer Corps, than I have been. At senior levels - the generals and admirals - these men and women make up one of the best-educated clades in American life, just after university professors and medical doctors. Their dedication, discipline and courage are well-noted, but seldom remarked-upon is another fact -- that you cannot rise to flag rank in any service without developing a meticulous eye for detail and a facility for carefully studying the traits of both superiors and those under your command.
Hence, given the advanced warning they had, and extended period over which the ROLLING STONE interviews took place, the notion that all of this was just an aberration -- a momentary lapse into snarky, immature and impulsive gossip -- simply beggars the imagination. Indeed, to claim that any of this was inadvertent is manifestly an insult to the general, himself.
Another thing that needs to be made-plain is that McChrystal's antipathy for democrats is not universal among his peers. Indeed, I have long made a strong case that the US Officer Corps should be considered among the top victims of the insanity known as Neoconservatism. That movement’s relentless war against every reservoir of sagacity and expertise - its one consistent program - has extended far beyond Tea Party populism, the War on Science, and the campaign to demolish and disable the US Civil Service (with effects we now see in the Gulf of Mexico). It also featured the most outrageous meddling by politicians in military affairs - for political reasons - that we have seen since the Vietnam War.
The harm done by the neocons to the military, and especially the US Army is well-documented; when Bill Clinton left office, every Army and Marine brigade was deemed by military auditors to be “fully combat ready.” After George Bush was done, the number of “war ready” brigades was precisely zero. And though the conversion of our land forces from supremely potent battlefield dominators to bedraggled counter insurgency swat-teams went uncriticized on the right, it contributed to desperate worry among the top members of the Officer Corps. Well, most of them.
Resentment toward the Bushites finally crescendoed, in 2006, in a fuming, sub-surface rebellion, culminating with Donald Rumsfeld’s replacement, as Defense Secretary, by Robert Gates. When I also saw that Adm. Mike Mullen was to become JCS Chairman, I knew that the neocons’ fanatically incompetent grip on our military had finally been pried loose... but that is another matter, drifting away from the topic at-hand.
Given that I think so highly of the Officer Corps (with allowances for the inevitable excesses of their testosterone-permeated realm), shall I sympathize with General McChrystal, for being fired? Certainly his reputation for competence in managing field operations must have made the President’s decision as difficult as it was for Harry Truman to dismiss Douglass MacArthur, after similar levels of disrespect, during the Korean War. Let there be no mistake, Obama did not want to do this.
But no, this was not (as McChrystal claimed in his public apology) just a lapse. A case of forgivable “stupidity.” I do not believe that a man like McChrystal does anything without serious contemplation of the pros and cons. It took weeks and many separate decisions to bring ROLLING STONE to his inner circle. Why, then, has nobody in the mass media even considered the simplest hypothesis --
-- that McChrystal did it all on purpose?
Am I serious? Well, I do try to see the under-contemplated possibility. And sure, my contrary quest for the alternative hypothesis can lead me down strange paths. Nevertheless, in this case, there is ample precedent and incentive for the man to have done all this with full fore-knowledge and intent.
Consider the Liddy-North Effect, named for convicted criminals G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, whose conspiratorial efforts to undermine lawful government should have ensured perpetual infamy, but who instead went straight from prison to cushy roles as ranting hatchetmen in an oligarchy-subsidized punditry. What these men proved is that, unless you are caught eviscerating small animals or children on video, there is nothing -- no misbehavior -- that will prevent a prominent and macho critic of democrats from getting a paid gig on Fox News or Venom Radio. Indeed, the more choleric, insulting and pyrotechnically disrespectful the behavior, the more likely you will get a plum slot.
Hence, it is with no lack of grudging respect that I predict this fellow will slip comfortably into whatever retirement engagement he has lined up, and we will see his face and hear his voice for the next 20 years, reading whatever talking points are put in front of him, whining - like Ollie North - about his Martyrdom at the hands of cursed liberals.
Hey, you gotta hand it to a tactician, who -- upon approaching inevitable retirement -- maps out the perfect campaign to optimize his results, forcing the hand of his boss, creating a situation where the president has no option at all, but to fire a “fighting general” and send him on his strategically planned way.
Ah, but respect or no, I’ll be glad to see him replaced by someone more typical of the Officer Corps. By a professional. One who is also a citizen soldier.
=== OTHER POLITICAL ITEMS ===
The 20 world leaders at an economic summit in Toronto next weekend will find themselves in a country that has avoided a banking crisis where others have floundered, and whose economy grew at a 6.1 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year. The housing market is hot and three-quarters of the 400,000 jobs lost during the recession have been recovered. Care to learn how it happened?
This riff about the history of the US energy crisis is both hilarious and informative and demonstrates why it is NOT silly, but indeed heartening that a majority of American young people get a large portion of their news from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart! They aren’t fools.
J.M. Bernstein of the NY Times offers the following: “ More than their political ideas, it is the anger of Tea Party members that is already reshaping our political landscape. As Jeff Zeleny reported last Monday in The Times, the vast majority of House Democrats are now avoiding holding town-hall-style forums — just as you might sidestep an enraged, jilted lover on a subway platform — out of fear of confronting the incubus of Tea Party rage that routed last summer’s meetings. This fear-driven avoidance is, Zeleny stated, bringing the time-honored tradition of the political meeting to the brink of extinction.”
Bernstein goes on: “My hypothesis is that what all the events precipitating the Tea Party movement share is that they demonstrated, emphatically and unconditionally, the depths of the absolute dependence of us all on government action, and in so doing they undermined the deeply held fiction of individual autonomy and self-sufficiency that are intrinsic parts of Americans’ collective self-understanding.“
Offered up from the left: “The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.”
(Note, I often snarl “a plague on both your houses!” toward BOTH the right and left. Sure, one side in particular is the worst threat to liberty and enlightenment, right now. But I remember when it was the other. I support these “coffee” alternatives. But always with a wary eye.
=== The Power of Denial ===
Hey, I’m a parent. I know first hand how natural it is, when confronted with unpleasant facts, to try to deny them away simply with “No, I didn’t!” Heck it is probably humanity’s greatest talent. But adults, especially in our civilization, are supposed to outgrow it.
Alas, you can’t beat doubt as a corporate strategy – especially if your product is life-threatening when used as directed”. New Scientist’s latest issue focuses on the Age of Denial. In particular how corporations manufacture doubt through PR campaigns, ads, slogans, hiring scientists & phony grass roots groups….all extensively used by tobacco, coal, chemical, fossil fuel industries.
Finally, a reminder:who wants culture war? Who promotes it, as the best way to divide and weaken America? Seriously. When talking to your favorite “ostrich”, mention that Fox is up around 10% owned by a consortium of Saudi princes. The truth. Ask them why that should be. And why their paranoia only works in one direction.
“Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal held meetings this week with Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch to discuss investments, including Rotana Media, according to a statement from the prince's office Saturday. The meetings, which took place in New York on Jan. 14, "touched upon future potential alliance with News Corp., the statement said about a deal that would see News Corp. buy 10% of the existing shares in the company could be completed this month.”
Actually, it goes both ways. Rupert Murdoch is buying 10% of Prince Talal’s media group... and Talal and his peers already own upwards toward 10% of Murdoch’s News Corp, parent of Fox News. Ah, but smoking gun or no, there’s no effort to even hide any of this, because the populist culture warrior dittoheads will think what they are told to think. And of course, it’s the liberals who are the traitors.
Okay. Reminder time. Cyclically, regularly (and always) keep checking on the Fox News Boycott. You have a right to make your purchasing judgments based on many criteria. Including a list of those who advertise with Glenn Beck.