Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inside baseball

(postscript 6/24, 8:30am - the powers that be are obviously in agreement - that was a fast response.)

So the Rolling Stone article on General McChrystal is the talk of the expat community here - and the wonks in D.C. as well. Yes, an aide calls Vice President Biden "Bite me". Yes, McChrystal ignores Ambassador Holbrooke's emails.

The inner circle is "shocked and dismayed" at the portrayal, while some say these comments "put the whole war in jeopardy." Possible "fire McChrystal" scenarios are floating about, while the finger-pointing game has already expanded to include "it would be a travesty if we fired McChrystal and kept Eikenberry." (Small Wars Journal does its usual fantastically thorough round-up of the press and punditry.)

Around the office? Well, McChrystal is respected, so there's some concern as to what this means. I think Foreign Policy has summed that angle up with its usual skill.

And still, understanding how critical it is that the military commanders actually respects the civilian leadership, and knowing that unity of effort is foundational to successful implementation, I feel like all this outcry is even more counterproductive than the initial scandalous remarks (even acknowledging that they're clearly in violation of the Uniform Code). Long speculation and "fate in limbo" headlines compound the damage exponentially. Quite frankly, I can envision resolutions that end in McChrystal's resignations and others that return him to Kabul, but all I'm really hoping for is that the decision comes quickly. This is the kind of inside baseball that destroys real efforts in the service of personal grudges.


MadMattDog said...

Vilas sent me this:

I think he should be fired. It is vital that Obama be perceived by the military as commander in chief and it is unacceptable for his commander in Afghanistan to publicly question the his leadership or preparation.

kep said...

I agree, except that it seems in some way unfair to pin everything to McChrystal when it seems the damning bits are scattered among a variety of aides and other subordinates - who should have known better and should know the discipline well - but perhaps none of whom could have made much of a splash individually, and almost none of which came from the general himself (the Holbrooke email theatrics are all on him). I'm still torn, essentially, about everything but the fact that this media storm is a disaster and deeply counterproductive to, well, everything that matters here.