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22 June 2010


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Ol' Stanley McChrystal
Was hot as a pistol,
Dissin' & jivin' The Boss.
If this were the old days,
Before all the FOX haze,
His ass would be thrown for a loss.

Sean Paul Kelley

Col. Lang, I read the article in Rolling Stone--it's been posted at Politico--and I can't really see where McChrystal was being insubordinate. Was he being a jacka**? Sure. I may be wrong. And I know very little of the UCMJ, and so I'm curious if you might point out what I missed? And if he indeed was insubordinate?


Colonel, you understand the past better than others and so you have the ability to see what may be in the future; that is a rare gift and the society needs people like you (I am not a sycophant though... :)


Could it be he has a hidden agenda with this sort of gaff? Certainly someone who has had stars on his shoulders for this long, couldn't be that monumentally stupid without some sort of plan behind it.



Are you too pissed to even write a complete post? :)

The Twisted Genius

I see McCrystal has been summoned to the White House.


His chain of command should address this before it reaches the President. If there is any honor, discipline and love for our country left in our general officers; relief of command, immediate resignation and/or courts martial should be announced before McChrystal sets foot in the White House. To leave this matter only for the President to resolve is cowardice.

FB Ali

McChrystal is either crazy or crazy like a fox: he may be trying to get himself fired. Realizing that it's 'cover your behind' time in Afghanistan, he believes that this is the best way to do it.

And, Pat, re your comment on the other thread: Yes, in spite of all that, I'd be glad to help!


Either McChrystal resigns, Obama fires him or Obama can be guaranteed to be a one term failure as President. Not only will this embolden President Obama's political opponents who see him as weak, it will undermine the lawful civilian authority over the military. God knows what foreigners will think.


That was succinct. LOL

Now we find out whether Obama has a backbone, or wet spaghetti noodles.

I'm not betting on the former. But I'll be extremely pleased to be proven wrong.

Mad Dogs

Here’s a link over at the Washington Note to the McChrystal Rolling Stone article and if that’s not up, here’s one at Time.


You certainly called it. No question he has to go, but it's really unfortunately it had to come to this.

Sean Paul Kelley

I stand corrected. Thank you Col. Lang.


Is it possible McChrystal & Petraeus are on the same meds, but have different reactions?


Anything less than being fired indicates a terminal weakness on the behalf of the Commander-in-Chief. This kind of activity cannot be laughed off or apologized for in order to retain his position.

He'd make a ton of money as a retired 3-star (since he has not served honorably as a 4-star). That's on top of his very generous pension (on the order of 85% of basic pay).

We'll know soon enough.




I was dumbstruck by the blatant disrespect shown by McChrystal et al. and agree with 100% on the implications as expressed here:


On the other hand, I frankly wonder whether McChrystal and his anonymous "aides" are not looking for reassignment anyway, especially after I saw David Kilcullen literally talking out of the side of his mouth here:


Am I naive to hate the ad hominem? Well, sometimes it's unavoidable, I guess...

William R. Cumming

Well the flag ranks do have their personal beliefs and interesting when they share them! Is it stupid yes! Insubordinate--The VP last I heard is not in the Chain of Command from the Commander in Chief.

What is becoming more and more obvious is that the decorations and awards for EGO and HUBRIS seem to come with Flag Rank. Can we count those in last two decades that stood up for what they believed to be the truth as opposed to saying "I can do, sir" when they know they cannot. Paraphrasing the Admiral in the Bridges of Toko Ri by James Michner the question --Where do we get such men--can definitely be answered by looking at the careers of most of the flag ranks. But hey warfare is an extension of diplomacy and politics by other means so perhaps this is only what can be expected.

Adam L. Silverman


Here's the actual Rolling Stone link:http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/119236


Never dealt much with flags on the military side of the fence. At State, yes, and I presume they ain't THAT different, just less resourced.
The Romans had it right -- keep a slave at the side of the triumphant one, constantly whispering "This too shall pass." Instead, our deities du jour are surrounded by sycophants and ass kissers whose only issue is "tongue or no tongue?"
I fear this administration will never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Patrick Lang


You know better than that. This a very specific violation on Article 88 of the UCMJ. pl


You are 100% correct Col. This a crucial moment and test. However, I don't there is a chance in hell Obama will stand up to this. Sadly. Do you note Kerry (John) is already cautioning all to avoid "overreacting" on this?



Right off the top, 3 need to be given their pink slips by the President -- OSD Gates, Petraeus , McChrystal.

Things are looking like Obama may voluntarily be a 1 term President.


McCrystal must be forced to fall on his own sword--made to resign. The only other alternative is a transfer to a place with no telephones.

Firing will only turn him into a cult hero and the odds are pretty high that this crazy electorate would elect him President.


Col Lang,

it seems to me the Stan knew exactly where this would end up: either (a) Obama doesn't have the balls to fire him, thus allowing him to do what he wants with the war; or (b) he gets canned and thus hit the rubber chicken circuit blaming the civilans for why his great Khandahar offensive and COIN plans failed. "If only I had been allowed to do what I wanted..." will be the well worn refrain.

As they say, silence speaks louder than words and notice how Stan's bosses, Petreus and the Joint Chiefs have been awfully silent about this. My guess is that they secretly support Stan but in typical fashion, don't want their heads to be chopped off too. As long as they are around, they will continually look to undermine any shift in strategy (like what you have recommended numerous times in your blog) that reduces our footprint in Afganistan.

I unfortunately don't think there will be enough of a purge that will aloow us to hang Karzai out to dry, cut some deals with whatever groups we can to stop the Taliband, and get out before we lose another decade and a few thousand more American lives.


Unlike our beloved Constitution, Article 88 could not be more specific.


"McChrystal is either crazy or crazy like a fox: he may be trying to get himself fired. "

this fits.

First thought: was the reporter so intoxicatingly attractive they abandoned all sense and discretion in an attempt to ingratiate? Second thought: something more than a tad over the top about this - particularly as it was not followed with any of the usual weaseling about being taken out of context.

This seems more like calculation than lapse.


TTG echos my first thought. The chain-of-command should resolve this. McChrystal should NEVER make it to the White House. My real question is why the CIC needs to summon him? Does CENTCOM not have the authority to act (if necessary with directive from higher up)? What aggravates this is that we are legally at war.

Russ Wagenfeld

Firing him might facilitate an exit strategy and serve as a wake-up call for others...

J Morris

Prediction: Obama keeps McC. Then leaks story that he wanted to fire him, but Biden persuaded him not to.


Fifth question: objective?

Demagogically more can be done with the label "maverick" than with "quitter" or "failure."

"Mad" Mike Adams

I remember back on 03 October 2009 when the Prophet Col.Pat made a prediction:

"I will make a prediction. If McChrystal does not learn to subordinate himself to something other than his vision of what is right and true, he is going to get fired."


"McChrystal was summoned from England to a 25 minute meeting with the president aboard Air Force 1. He showed up in field uniform? He owns a set of Greens (Class A uniform). He wore it in London to the IISS meeting. The man does not seem to know his place. pl"

From: "A General's Public Pressure" - Ackerman

I would prefer Obama fire the entire chain of command and transfer all the Courtney Massingills(sic) to the Alaskan Front. However, like PirateLaddie I don't think Obama has the huevos to take the opportunity.


I'm very intrigued by FB Ali's suggestion up-thread that McChrystal is looking to get fired. If so, I wouldn't be surprised if Obama finds a way to keep him in place. Put McChrystal in an awkward photo-op where he apologizes in some humiliating way. Where Obama says something like "The Afghan mission is too important for pettiness" and then...back to duty.

If I understand this correctly, the Afghanistan War is now a matter of assigning blame, rather than pursuing victory. Obama plans on assigning the blame to McChrystal and he wont be wiggling out of it.

Let's face it, if he was going to be fired, why call him to the White House? Why not do it on the spot? IIRC, that's exactly what happened to admiral Fallon, and I don't think he insulted the President or VP.


Yeah, we have to be careful. If this stupid , obscenely bloated empire suddenly collapses it could result in the kind of human disasters that took place in Europe after WW1.

Meanwhile, the BHO administration declares war against an uppity remnant of the historic American nation in AZ.


Should the Staffers face Article 88 too?

As the discussion here the past weeks were on the failure of Marjah,that the overall strategy was not going to work, and Stanley was going to take the fall, may this be his way of jumping off? Especially if Richard Bruce and his political cult was offering a nice nomination to contest 2012.


"Admiral Byng comes to mind. pl"

Didn't Byng get shot at dawn? "Quelquefois, il faut tirer des amiraux pour encourager les autres". A mite drastic, though, surely.


Amazing. Makes me think other episodes such as Gen.Singlaub and Carter.

And episode in the early Clinton era:

"Maj Gen Harold N. Campbell

Article 88 of the UCMJ reads as follows: “Any officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, Vice President, Congress, Secretary of Defense, or a Secretary of a Department, a Governor or a legislature of any State, Territory, or other possession of the United States . . . shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”23

As speaker at the 32d Fighter Group’s maintainers-of-the-year awards banquet on 24 May 1993 near Soesterberg Air Base in the Netherlands, General Campbell referred to President Bill Clinton as “draft-dodging,” “pot-smoking,” and “womanizing,” which were, of course, contemptuous words in anybody’s lexicon. Campbell’s remarks were apparently intended as a humorous preface to his prepared remarks, but some of the attendees thought they were anything but funny and reported them up the chain.24

President Clinton told reporters he was not offended personally by the remarks, but that “for a general officer to say that about the Commander in Chief . . . is a very bad thing.”25 However, the White House was not anxious to see the public court-martial of a distinguished combat veteran on such charges—General Campbell’s war record included one thousand combat flying hours in Vietnam plus award of the Silver Star and five Distinguished Flying Crosses. Offered nonjudicial punishment under UCMJ Article 15 in lieu of a court-martial, General Campbell decided to accept it, receiving a permanent written reprimand and a fine equivalent to a month’s pay. Though told to put in his retirement papers, he retained his major general’s rank"

Many other historical examples of A.F. (Army Air Force) and officers speaking out and the limitations and conflicts here:

The Speech Rights
of Air Professionals
Col Lloyd J. Matthews, USA, Retired

As for Stan.... How could you not relieve him... and would that not be CENTCOM Petraeus job? Eikenberry was right.

Bobby Murray

[..]"Throughout my long service life in the Department of Defense, first as an army officer and then as a member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, there was a phrase in common usage: "I will fall on my sword over that." It meant that the speaker had reached a point of internal commitment with regard to something that his superiors wanted him to do and that he intended to refuse even though this would be career suicide. The speaker preferred career death to the loss of personal honor.

This phrase is no longer widely in use." [..]

Opening paragraph and beginning of 2nd paragraph from "Drinking the Kool Aid"
by W. Patrick Lang, Mid East Policy Journal, summer 2004




Now that I've seen the depth of your concern as expressed in the commentary that you added after the initial post, I am all the more confident with my previous contribution as it concerns General McCrystal (though I am wondering whether you would include some of his aides in that demarche...).

On the other hand, I want to be clear that I personally believe that the harm done is just as great, if not greater, for those serving under the General in Afghanistan as for the fundamental matter that you discuss - civilian control of the military. On that point, I am quite confident that President Obama will take that matter in hand directly (unlike his predecessor...).

Regarding David Kilcullen, however, I have had some reservations because I must admit that in the past I have found him to be quite lucid if still all too willing to comply with the relatively grandiose and integrated vision that Petraeus and others cast for COIN. Rather than ask the obvious questions about Kilcullen as an individual, a more general inquiry, however banal, came to mind after I read your post on "The Gizab Good Guys and the Greenies": would you agree that "winning hearts and minds" in the disaggregated sense that you envision is ephemeral - and perhaps futile - if some form of unifying political vision is absent but that the presence of a central objective and/or authority is not enough in and of itself?

I apologize if that second point is a bit off topic, but I kept coming back to it each time that Robert Gibbs returned to a fundamental truth during his daily press briefing: in the end, this is not about General McCrystal or even about President Obama... but rather it is about a difficult mission in a far off land that was never going to be easy but that certainly has not been helped by these distractions...


A few observations;
This is not the first time McChrystal has been summoned 'front and center' to explain his actions to Obama. You'd think he'd learn.
Lot of talkradio flapdoodle that most of the comments were from staff. Of course, staff invariably reflect the views of the boss.
And last, Rolling Stone? Good grief. Why not Mother Jones?

Cloned Poster

A good General fighting an unfuckable winnable war/coin.
He should be fired, but let's look at the long-term picture, he's just expressing views that are understood by anyone who understands Afghanistan is a basket-case idea.

Patrick Lang


I don't think he is looking to be fired. He is a typical egomaniac and thought Obama could be intimidated. we w ill see if he was right.

Yes. Everyone quoted in the interview should be subject to Article 88.


All human experience is ephemeral. If we were willing to stay in Afghanistan for a hundred years and spend a trillion dollars there, then I would be interested in having a 'political vision" for the place. pl


Bright and early this morning when I read about this I was 150% that Stan the Man had to go ala McArthur. On further reflection, I want his bratty, sassy staff members gone, too.

I'm sure Obama has the spine to take him out and has a responsibility to do it so the military knows who is in charge.


Admiral Byng was tried for cowardice in the face of the enemy.

If he'd slagged off the crown, it would have been tries as treason.

Brian Hart

There were a number of gold star families that were against his nomination because he lied about Pat Tillman and got away with it.

This isn't the first time McChrystal dissed the President in public either.

That he seems willing to snark at most everybody he has to work with in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US civilian government demonstrates to me a great weakness in character as a leader.

He has to go.

Frankly its also time for Sec. Gates to go. I respect Gates immensely and appreciate the work he did to clean up Rumsfeld's mess and put some integrity and common sense back into that position.

But the reality is that McChrystal should not have been put in this position and when problems unfolded last fall the Sec of Def or Petraeus should have hauled him in.

Now President Obama will have to do it.

Ten Americans died in Afghanistan in the last few days. I would not want to be one of those families, that got a knock at the door yesterday and who turns on the TV today to witness McChrystal's insubordination.


Many interesting happenings in Afghanistan.

Do we know what went on politically in Russia in the run up to their decision to get out of Dodge/Kabul?

It's just a number of issues seem to be coming to the fore at this time.

Do these matters portend a grand unraveling?

*General Petreaus has his fainting moment in front of Congress.

*The NY Times runs the piece on the reported gold mines and lithium bonanza in Afghanistan.

*Reports that the business formerly known as Blackwater just landed a 100 plus million contract.

*Reports that the head of Xe/Blackwater may be moving to Dubai.

Now this McClusterfuck.

Interesting times.

William R. Cumming

Well I was not familiar with the exact wording of ARTICLE 88 but looks somewhat amended after time I served when the company grade officers were practically in open rebellion agains the President and his lackeys in the ARMY of 68-70! But hey let's see PL if your are correct and been a while unless I am wrong to see a flag rank court martialed. Of course "contemptuous" is a very poor word to have chosen for employment in the UCMJ IMO! Also where is the Chain of Command on this one? How about court martialing all who knew about it and remained silent?

Nancy K

General McChrystal is an embarrassment. President Obama needs to put him in his place and let him know who was elected President of the US and who is the CIC. If Obama is unable to do this, I agree with others that he is a 1 term President.
Perhams McCrystal feels he is the man for the job.


Karzai and his brother think McChrystal is the greatest thing since sliced cheese, maybe McChrystal can become CINC of the Afghan Army.

Adam L. Silverman

Greg B: I would recommend this paper by Dr. Grau:

It should provide some of the answers, or at least lead you to new questions, regarding your question about what went on with Russia's pull out of Afghanistan.

Adam L. Silverman

Lysander: ADM Fallon's situation is one of those "its the same, but different". It seemed pretty clear that ADM Fallon was doing what COL Lang described in his MEPJ piece as "falling on his sword". The interview he gave, and the criticisms he leveled, were really focused on the Bush Administration's positions towards Iran. Unless he eventually comes out, or one of his senior aides does, and explains why he did what he did, it will always be up for speculation, but from the interview, to follow up interviews about what he said, to his retirement he pretty clearly stymied the pursuit of military movement regarding Iran.

Phil Giraldi

The real problem is that senior officers are now obsessed with plotting their own careers rather than actually achieving something. It is true both at DOD and at the CIA, where I once rested my head. I love the awards and other accolades the system showers on the senior ranks. I watched Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back over Memorial day. At the end, he was shown in his dress uniform with all his decorations (he was the most decorated soldier in WW2). He had a couple of rows. Petraeus and company have row after row after row of decorations which probably include a medal for something like handling power point presentations really well.


Three Australian special forces died last weekend in Afghanistan, and Two Australian infantrymen and a sniffer dog died the week before.

..In a war theater run by this collection of assclowns and REMFS?

"The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority."

McChrystal must go, but first he can write letters of apology to Eikenberry, Holbrook, the French Government and Vice President Biden.

If Obama is merciful, McChrystal can tender his resignation in person and be allowed to make a public apology at a Whitehouse Press Conference.


Too late. McChrystal has resigned.


America wants its leaders to "get tough".

McChrystal, lacking the opportunity to get tough on the enemy, gets tough on the President. The President must now get tough on him.

It's all a distraction. A distraction that will undoubtedly end, as planned, with the opening of the third front in Iran, as Obama gets tough on the Iranians.

All the while, the housing market, so called, continues to collapse, unemployment continues to rise, and the rich get richer.

I wonder how long this can last?


i wonder if this is true:

General Stanley McChrystal submits resignation


it says it's a Reuters link -- but Reuters own website doesn't have it posted yet


from CNN blog:

[Updated at 4:41 p.m.] Gen. Stanley McChrystal has submitted his resignation, Time magazine's Joe Klein told CNN, citing an unnamed source. CNN is working to confirm Klein's information.



Report: Gen. McChrystal has submitted resignation; White House denies

.... "So we could have a situation in which the resignation is there, and it's up to Obama to take it or not."


Can he be busted down in rank and then fired?

I'd have to say that the very fact of giving this interview to Rolling Stone guaranteed that it would go in front of an audience that mainly supports the Democrats, and would certainly generate indignant "did you see this?" letters to the White House. This seems to argue in favor of the 'trying to get fired' scenario. I'd give him his wish, very publicly.



NO. You may NOT resign. You're fired for cause.



CNN just told us (4:41 PM update) ..


"Gen. Stanley McChrystal has submitted his resignation, Time magazine's Joe Klein told CNN, citing an unnamed source. CNN is working to confirm Klein's information."

Not yet confirmed, but tentatively, it looks like I was indeed wrong. :)


"back to duty"?
I have no military background, but I'm sure I get it about this mess; seems drop-dead easy.
Even if CIC decided against CM or cashiering these guys, it seems to me that there is no way that they should be allowed to continue duty in AfPak.
I think that should apply in a corporate environment as well.
Yikes, what a cohesional nightmare.
President Obama has done several things in his term that have caused me to think less of him in step-wise fashion; if he doesn't s___can these guys fortwith, whatever I think of him afterward, it ain't likely to be much. (Unless I hear some explanation that I can't imagine.)


Tillman’s mom weighs in:



I agree with those above whose primary concern is avoiding the COIN swamp in Afghanistan. (I do admit to having no good read on how disruptive the lack of discipline is). I personally fear that giving the COINistas the smokescreen of a McChrystal’s firing would be a political blunder. It would be too easy for them to blame all Afghanistan failures on command disruption, lack of political will, etc. The firing would become an excuse for extending the deadlines which they are currently failing to meet.

I hope that President Obama will see his duty first and foremost as being a political leader. Commander in Chief is only one of his duties. He should, like Lincoln, be willing (not happy) to take what he must in terms of crap from his generals, in order to keep his eye on the country’s long run interests.


My view is that McChrystal should of been dealt with by Petraeus already. By not dealing with this Petraus, having allowed this situation to rise to the Presidential level,needs to fall on his sword also, if he is healthy enough.

Now why have Casey, Mullen or Gates not also grabbed this wise ass SOB by the neck and tossed him out on his rear end. He has already had his three chances. This guy may be the greatest soldier on earth but he is tone deaf and his actions are not those of a good leader.

If anything comes out of this hopefuly our soldiers on the ground will get the military support they need in times of action.

Norman Rogers

Being allowed to resign is a privilege he pissed away while riding on a bus from Paris to Berlin while drinking with his staff and a reporter.

This is the man who took away current release films from the REMFs in Afghanistan and tried to instill some austerity by taking away Burger King.

Yes, there is a God, and she has a delightful sense of humor, doesn't she?

B. D. Warbucks


Looks like Stan and his boys fell in love with their plan.

Always a bad sign.

Talk about "The Man Who Would Be King" . . . . Stan reminds me of the Sean Connery character Daniel Dravot.

But since this IS America, Stan will probably recover to host several action/adventure television shows on History/Discovery channels and have a line of men's outerwear he endorses and models. Of course he will be on the talking head circuit, as well as all over Fox. Oh . . . and lots of military-industrial complex members will want him on their board for the coolness factor.

But I wonder whether his ego and constitution can stand not wearing BDUs? Methinks Stan has not planned for transitioning into the civilian lifestyle, especially in so abrupt a manner. Will a palatial estate in Pinehurst and legions of adoring SOFophants close by keep him sated? Or will he yearn to be part of "The Game" like all the other military celebrity spokesmodels that crowd the airwaves?


McChrystal should be fired - for stupid.
Rolling Stone?
If he can't figure out something this obvious, what kind of general is he?


No question that McChrystal should be fired, but will the American public be able to appreciate why he has to be fired and why the threat of caesarism is so dangerous to the preservation of liberty in this country? MacArthur, as I understand it, was far more dangerous a man after he was fired. Only after Richard Russell made him look like a supercilious megalomaniac did the political threat that he posed dissipate, or so I heard. Will anyone in today's politics be able to success defang our would-be Caesars (both McChrystal and Petreus) should they get funny ideas?


When I heard this story reported this morning, I knew this was the place to view thoughtful commentary.

Col, yes McCrystal must go no question. My questions are these: 1) who/how many is he representing (obviously there are other officers sharing & communicating his POV.)
2) how does this impact Petraus?
3) is this a bigger issue -- begining of a mutiny among officers -- or merely McCrystal acting on ego

John Minnerath

Lack of judgment, stupidity, ulterior motives?
It doesn't matter, General McChrystal violated Article 88 of the UCMJ, an important tenant of our law of civilian control of the military.
He's been pushing it for a long time.
He has to go and it's the Presidents job to do it. His Staff can be dealt with through regular military channels.
It's unfortunate, but, that's the way it is.


Meanwhile in the Red Sea, on the way to the Persian Gulf, the US carrier task force and 1 Israeli submarine - war load unknown - tagging along. I wonder what kind of respect the Navy brass has for the CIC. I think Israel's is zero. Hopefully no Ollie North influenced guys are still around.

Margaret Steinfels

Fire McChrstyal and Co., not only for bad judgement but for incompetence. They've lost a war that they said they could win. It wasn't true when they promised, and it is not true now. Karzai's support is proof positive.


Apparently McChrystal and his aides were taking a bus across Europe at the time, due to the volcano in Iceland, and Rolling Stone got extra time with them as a result, by taking the bus with them. There was a good-sized stock of McChrystal's favorite beer on board….



Thanx, Adam Silverman, for the info re:Fallon. He struck me as more of a gentleman officer than McChrystal, but I don't really know.

Funny thing about Fallon, I recall when he was made CENTCOM chief the buzz was that it was in preparation for an attack on Iran. The logic being it would be a primarily naval war. When he was fired, it was because he opposed the always-in-the-future war with Iran. I would love to know how close the Bush admin was to ordering an attack. My guess is not very.

But then again, speaking of guesses, mine regarding McChrystal returning to duty to be the fall guy seems to have been way off the mark.

David E. Solomon

Colonel Lang,

I completely agree that McChrystal should be fired. The real question (which will hopefully be answered tomorrow) is whether or not President Obama is self confident enough to do just that.

The evidence presented in his first year and a half in office appears to make that an unlikely prospect.
However, we shall see.

I believe that if he doesn't have enough gumption to fire McChrystal we will be safe in assuming that he is really nothing but another middle level corporate hack.

Tomorrow will be his last chance to prove otherwise.

Adam L. Silverman


Apparently one of the new projected themes, for lack of a better term, is that President Obama should take the resignation letter, bank it, dress McChrystal down, and then send him back to Afghanistan to finish the operation he asked for. I've seen this on two different cable networks tonight, and its in a few places on the Net. The Telegraph (link below) claims they're looking for replacements that can get quick Senate confirmation. Because the only thing we really need to fix this whole mess is a Senate confirmation process with a majority caucus that doesn't understand the concept of party loyalty and a minority party that perfected the concept, especially when in opposition!

robt willmann

Even though this mess presents the issue of disrespect by a military officer toward civilian authority, I smell a rat.

The Rolling Stone article, and the mass media's reporting of it, is markedly different from the love fest that was Gen. Stanley McChrystal's appointment and his promotion of an escalation of the Afghanistan war.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is found in Title 10, United States Code, Chapter 47, beginning with section 801. Article 88 is Title 10 U.S.C. section 888, and currently states--

"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

The Secretary of Transportation had been on the list, but was removed in 2002.

I found only one court of appeals opinion from 1945 in the statute's annotations, and there was a law journal article on Article 88 published in 1986 in volume 33, page 1189 of the UCLA Law Review.

Something nasty is going on behind the scenes concerning Afghanistan policy.

One group, revealed today to include television and at least one large newspaper, most likely wants McChrystal out.

A Washington Post article says that Michael Hastings, the author of the Rolling Stone article, is a freelance journalist who has written for the Post, and that the newspaper got the article from Hastings "several hours" before Rolling Stone placed it on the Internet. The Post further says that "Obama was alerted to the article Monday evening when an upset Biden called him and advised him to read it", and, "the article surfaced on the eve of the president's monthly meeting with his top advisors on Afghanistan, which is scheduled to take place Wednesday and includes Biden and many of the other advisers whom McChrystal or his staff mocked."

What a coincidence.


(The Post article is the 7:05 p.m., 22 June 2010 version)

When McChrystal was first appointed for this job, the usual neocon suspects and mass media seemed pleased, and he sailed through the confirmation hearing without any of the detail of his West Point history or his alleged tolerance of abusive interrogations and complicity in the false explanation of Pat Tillman's death being trumpeted in Congress or the media.

When McChrystal agreed with the escalation of the Afghanistan war as desired by Robert Kagan and others, "his" report was leaked to the press and the "60 Minutes" CBS television program did a shameless puff piece on McChrystal which also promoted the war's escalation, in the obvious effort to bulldoze president Obama into adopting that policy.

The media's massaging of parts of McChrystal's anatomy duplicated that done to Gen. David Petraeus, who got a flattering cover story in Newsweek magazine.

But something has now gone sour. The theme of the Rolling Stone article is that McChrystal is an uppity character who has been so since his days at West Point. Provacative, tantalizing quotes are selected, mostly said by others, directed at certain people -- vice president Biden, Richard Holbrooke, Senators McCain and Kerry, retired Generals Jim Jones and Karl Eikenberry, and the French.

Immediately, television and the Washington Post crank up the volume and the game is on.

One interpretation is that the media is again trying to steamroll president Obama by thinking he does not have the guts to fire McChrystal, and if he does not do so this time, he will never be able to and the crazy Afghan COIN program will go on.

On the other hand, this sudden media attack looks like what was done to Howard Dean after he won Iowa in the Democratic primary in the 2004 presidential race.

If the Washington Post and television media did not want to zap McChrystal, the Rolling Stone article would have been ignored or explained away.

This looks like a mass media hit on McChrystal.


Is the policy going to change from COIN and to do so will require pushing McChrystal out?

Or is he viewed as no longer reliable on the party line by some and they want him gone?

Or has he diminished the role of people like the despicable Richard Holbrooke, the "special" envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Holbrooke helped initiate the aggressive war against Yugoslavia/Serbia during Bill Clinton's administration by using the old ploy of making Serbia an offer it had to refuse. And do not forget his positions at two Wall Street money broker firms -- vice chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston and managing director of the now defunct Lehman Brothers -- and at the taxpayer bailout queen American International Group (AIG), where he was on the board of directors from 2001 to mid-2008. You know, when AIG got into those garbage securities and other junk paper. It was "unclear" whether the issue of the sleazy "retention" bonuses paid to AIG people ever went before the board of directors on which Poor Richard sat.


McChrystal did rip his pants with his comment about Biden, even in its context of joking about post-speech questions. The Rolling Stone article claims that McChrystal wants to listen to opinions, so I will give him one.

"General, you need to get out of that command while the getting is good. Tell president Obama politely that this incident has created an unnecessary distraction and embarrassment for him, you again apologize for it, and believe that it would be best for all concerned that you be transferred out of the position of commander in Afghanistan. You will assist a new commander with any orientation to the area, and wish to continue your life of service in the U.S. military. General McChrystal, you were quoted in the article that you would die for the guys on your team and they would die for you. I believe that. But you need to understand one thing clearly. Those policy people outside like Robert Kagan, Richard Holbrooke, and assorted neocons: they will not die for you, and they will not die for this country. Those media people who smiled at you and rubbed your back and whispered sweet things in your ear: they left in the middle of the night and you just woke up in a cold bed. If the president wants you to stay, respectfully decline, and say that you are a soldier, you have erred, and you want to make the transition in a way that puts the president in the best light with the public. This is a vicious political game, General, and people over whom you have no authority hold all the cards. This is now about your survival. Discretion is the better part of valor."


Oh, Lord, oh Lord.

This from the NY Times:

"All of this is a huge distraction at a time when no one involved in the Afghan war can afford to be distracted.

Instead of answering questions about his media strategy, General McChrystal should be explaining what went wrong with his first major offensive in Marja and how he plans to do better in Kandahar. Instead of General McChrystal having to apologize to Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Eikenberry, they all should be working a lot harder to come up with a plan for managing relations with Afghanistan’s deeply flawed president, Hamid Karzai. "

Come again? Huh?

Our national interest has been perverted into keeping American shleppers in the Middle East to protect Israel and borrowing trillions of taxpayer dollars to protect financial frauds at home.

Patrick Lang


SM has no rights invested in the job. he serves at the president's discretion. pl

clifford kiracofe

"he serves at the president's discretion"

This is the bottom line and I hope our Commander in Chief makes this quite clear as Truman did.

We are at war and the last thing we need is for our President's authority to be undermined through insubordination.

Personally, I would like to see the President be himself. I voted for him because I wanted a change, a real change. I thought his approach to Iran was good, his approach to the Iraq war was good, his Cairo speech was good and his expressed desire for a serious peace process was good.

Somehown, he has gotten boxed in by advisors who are doing him and the country a grave disservice. Stan the Man and Petraeus being two examples.

Orzag seems to be out and Rahm seems to be leaving. This is all to the good. The country needs more of a shake up in the White House and Administration.

We need to get back to the Obama we all hoped he would be. Himself. Terminating McChrystal would be a good step forward to reclaim and refurbish this Presidency.

We are in two wars and we need some serious leadership out of this Administration to get us, and our troops, through and home.

Having voted for President Obama, I am going to continue to support him, although criticize where I think needed. In 2012, I will weigh the situation and will vote for him again if confronted by the Petraeus-Palin ticket.

But Stan the Man needs to go now.



I saw Andrew Bacevich on Boston television last night, and I was surprised to see him support the proposition that McChrystal should be dressed down and then sent back to Afghanistan until December 2010 when the first full assessment of The Plan is scheduled... and that he should then be fired "if" the results are unsatisfactory... and that "if" increasingly seems like a "when", especially given the suggestion that McChrystal & Co. were already considering how to ask for more troops in 2011 rather than prepare for a drawdown, however modest...

I've been thinking about this all day and night and have come to the conclusion that this was no accident - that the General and his coterie have realized that they had their backs against a wall that they had constructed themselves hastily and that was falling on top of them...

Three relatively unrelated questions come to mind:

1) They would never admit that this strategy and/or its execution has been fundamentally flawed, would they? Is there any precedence for this in the history of the United States military?

2) How good can a strategy predicated on the contribution of a single individual be? This goes for Karzai as well as for McChrystal, imho... especially when you consider that Karzai has had eight years to get his act together!

3) If fired, how long will it take for those who called for his removal to turn the rock over and place the failure of the strategy on the President's shoulders alone rather than also on those who were central to its formulation? I am 100% confident that Obama will, and should, accept the responsibility for having signed off on the policy, but that does not mean that he formulated it alone...


an aspect to this that i'm curious about, is if mcchrystal & aides were this uninhibited with comments to a rolling stone reporter, just what were they saying to the courtiers of the major newspapers/magazines (and why no revelations from those reporters). not to mention what types of discussions they are having among themselves. this is very dangerous territory.

Patrick Lang


Bacevich has a right to his opinion. I respect his views.

I think he is mistaken. The constitutional implications of keeping McChrystal are overwhelming. Obama will effectively lose control of the military if he does not relieve him. People can become very "deaf."

There is nothing special about this general. there are many others waiting in the wings.

Promote McMaster and put him in command. pl


A precision, if I may...

"3) If fired, how long will it take for those who called for his removal to turn the rock over and place the failure of the strategy on the President's shoulders alone rather than also on those who were central to its formulation?"

... Because I am referring to Murdoch's Media (Fox News, WSJ, etc.) and in the GOP. In n, this will be a good indicator of their seriousness.

I do not, however, expect it in your forum.


Obama is "himself"
Take a look at:
Gulf spill;
Federal budget;
Border (in)security.
This is all the result of an empty suit (who has never managed a lemonade stand) in WAAAYYY over his head....
The voters wanted change; they got it.
How's that "hope and change" bumper sticker working out?


A few observations 24 hours after the Rolling Stone flap first broke: In several interviews, Michael Hastings, the author of the Rolling Stone article made perfectly clear that McChrystal and his team knew perfectly well what they were saying on the record. It was not gaffe. It was premeditated. They knew the article would appear in Rolling Stone. Whether or not they crossed the line of Article 88 of the UCMJ is being debated by people far better informed on the ins and outs of military law than I am. But it is crucial, I believe, to realize that McChrystal did this interview, fully aware of what would likely come out in print.

There are clearly internal disputes within the ranks of the military, over COIN, over how to exit from Afghanistan, etc. and Hastings made those differences clear in his article, as well. But as I hear it from a number of active duty and retired military and intelligence officials, there is an overall sense that the armed forces are going to be sandbagged by Obama, as he moves more and more into the reelection mode. They have noted, from the outset (since the Oct. 2009 AfPak review) that the President supported a limited surge of 30,000 troops, but has stuck to the idea that a drawdown will begin in the Summer of 2011--an obvious political objective tied to reelection strategy. Now, in recent months, the White House message on Afghanistan has shifted. Victory is now defined as defeating the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That is a pretty radical downshift, vis. mission. It is being seen by many in the military as an indication that Obama is looking for a "victory" narrative for his reelection, and has no strategic comprehension of military appreciation of just how tough the situation in on the ground in Afghanistan. It's all about domestic reelection politics. Whether that is a fair assessment or not (I happen to think it's fair), a large grouping of military brass see this and are very unhappy with Obama as Commander-in-Chief. We don't do military coups in America, thank God, so there are various ways that military brass express their dissatisfaction, almost always involving falling on the sword, rather than "drinking the Kool-Aid." McChrystal, the warrior monk, seems to be acting on behalf of a larger attitude among the military, and has thrown down a gauntlet to Obama, personally, which puts the broader issue of Afghan strategy on the table.

Anthony Cordesman, who is a pretty astute analyst and former Marine officer, told NPR on Tuesday that Obama's problem, if he fires McChrystal, is finding another general who is going to want to take the job, and who can do as good or better than McChrystal.

Regardless of what happens today, this is a lose-lose situation for the President. It puts the more fundamental issue of the Afghan situation and Obama's own intentions under a public spotlight, that won't go away after the White House wood-shed session later today.

This Afghan confrontation does not occur in a vacuum. More and more, people are finding serious fault with Obama on a range of issues, the BP oil spill being the most dramatic and serious.

Patrick Lang


there is no divided responsibility here. Only Obama is responsible. Staff help in making decisions does not carry responsibility with it. The buck stops in the oval office. pl

Al Spafford

"...McChrystal and his team show up...a 45-minute discussion with some 2 dozen soldiers. The atmosphere is tense...He spends 20 minutes talking about COIN, diagraming concepts on a whiteboard...but it's not winning any hearts and minds of the sholdiers..dduring the question and answer the frustration boils over...The session ends with no clapping, and no real resolution. McChrystal may have sold Obama on COIN, but many of his own men aren't buying it..." Rolling Stone. I have not noticed in the subsequent media reporting this part of the article discussed--the REAL insult to our military.



I agree with the basic you lay out, however the military, or more precisely the US Government (and our allies) spent most of a decade, close to $1 trillion and over a thousand (US) lives and to what effect? The 'surge' that worked in Iraq was paying the tribes to fight for us. See the recent comments on the Gizab region. There's no reason it won't work in Afghanistan, too.

Now, because the constitutionally elected representatives of the American people are implementing a change in strategy the military is resentful of sandbagging and downshifts in policy?

"We don't do military coups in America, thank God, so there are various ways that military brass express their dissatisfaction…"

I think Ollie North set the standard for conduct in this realm. He received a presidential pardon. His colleague in Iran Contra - Elliot Abrams- got the same, then a new job with the Bush administration - the same administration that failed to 'win' this war, regardless of how one defines 'victory'. Yes, it's lose-lose for Obama. To damn bad for him. I can only imagine what the military would be saying about VP Palin had the election turned out differently.


Obama has pretty good self-knowledge, knows he's no Eisenhower (or Lincoln or FDR) in dealing w/ military matters. So he did the lawyerly thing - leveraged process & appealed to experts. He forced the stakeholders to establish & execute a consensus - the fruit of our current generation of best & brightest groupthink.

Turns out the group ain't so wise (despite obvious skills at suspension of disbelief & water-carrying). We are witness to a similar approach for deciding McCrystal's future.

Whatever he determines, he protects himself politcally by staying their course. We'll see how that works out for him.

If ever there was a case for shared guilt for a dubious course of action, this is it. We have met the enemy & it is all of us, even if the Pres is first among equals.



Re Obama, commitment to Afghanistan and politics

Maybe I'm naive but I don't see politics as the main driver here. Whatever the Administrations's thoughts and motivations were in 2009, I think it's pretty clear in mid-2010 that we have to reduce our military commitments, and pronto.

The employment and economic situation are just not improving and the deficit is growing bigger.

Things are bad here at home and our actions have to start reflecting that fact. That includes our military actions too. I think the idea of "winning" has faded away for many people, it sure has for me. Now I think the goal is more like let's continue doing what we have to do overseas re terrorism but bring the rest of the people home ASAP.

I'd also make the argument that we need to do less abroad so we can take better care of our armed forces personnel. I'm sure many in the military would dismiss this as weak civilian thinking. but if we're paying the warlords and Taleban $4 million a week in protection money, I think the handwriting's sort of on the wall anyway, isn't it?


McChrystal 'likely' to Resign Wednesday is the rumor

Nancy K

Graywolf, You call President Obama an empty suit. I'm more concerned that the teabaggers are empty heads, but that does not seem to concern you.



I agree about Obama accepting responsibility directly and without qualification and I believe that he will... but it is important, and I think you would agree, that how these decisions were made is central to the matter (and for what it's worth, I would have been very comfortable if you and/or Bacevich and/or Ambassador Freeman had been retained in that process...).

As for a replacement for McChrystal, if such is the decision, I obviously agree that no person should be indispensable if only because there are so many ways the leadership can be derailed by unforeseen forces whether self-inflicted, incidental, or "Majeur".

For what it's worth, I was leaning toward General Mattis but am doubtful that you would agree or that he would be willing... but McMaster could be a great choice, especially if the President is beginning to reconsider COIN on the middling scale currently underway...

We should know, I think, soon enough.



If a strategy is not working, does the US still have the ability and flexibility to change it?

The gentlemen in the military brass have not been stellar performers this past decade. If they don't like what is happening they can resign. Al Spafford's 10:25AM post raises the question whether the enlisted are dissatisfied with them.

This is Barack Obama's moment of truth. We will see what he is made of.

Thank you for the insightful comment.

Patrick Lang


People can't seem to get the words straight.

Military officers do not "resign" unless they want to leave the service without retired pay.

The president can relieve Stan of command but he can not "fire" him from being an officer. That would have to happen in a legal way under UCMJ. That won't happen.

The president can order that he be placed on the retired list immediately if he chooses to so.

Mattis would be my first choice. The Army screwed this pooch. Mcmaster would make a great deputy for him. pl


What is the name of the planet you are living on?
"Just fine" if you're a government bureaucrat with pension, benefits, NO accountability/responsibility and an all day coffee break.
The rest of us aren't "just fine."


Nancy K:
What do "teabaggers" (an ignorant pejorative, BTW) have to do with Obama's underwhelming ineptness?



Where do you think Petraeus fits in here? Seems to me that combined with the Canadian Bernards escapades, that the command in AFG is less than professional as a rule. Doesn't Petraeus have some responsibility here as well?


Promote McMaster and put him in command. pl

Easily the best idea I have seen yet to solve this one.

Promote him right to 4 Stars and give him the writ. Any complainers or otherwise careerist uniformed detractors can be shown the exits. There are many, many combat tested field grade officers learned and ready to take on this challenge and finish the job quickly.



So is this good? Part good??

President Obama has removed Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his command, a White House official tells POLITICO.

Gen. David Petraeus will succeed McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

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