Fire Insubordinate McChrystal Now! Civilian Government!

Elected by no one, without the approval of the civilian government, "military officials" are at it again, predicting anonymously because they are "unauthorized" to speak for the president, that Obama will announce another 35,000 troop increase in Afghanistan.  This is even as civilian officials confirm today that "Obama has not made a final decision about the number of troops he would approve."

"Administration officials said Obama has not made a final decision about the number of troops he would approve. Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the president's plans, said they expected the total to be between 32,000 and 35,000."

Continuing to try to paint the president into a corner and infringing on the  president's prerogative to shape his own foreign policy is serious insubordination, and the leak and spin wars now conducted by "military officials" could not be more in the open. This is after the UK Telegraph reported this month:

"Tensions between the White House and the Pentagon over the deployment have already bubbled to the surface. Senior presidential advisers have accused generals of leaking the misinformation that Mr Obama has all but decided to dispatch more than 34,000 additional troops, in a bid to force his decision"

The only thing more unacceptable is the irresponsible reporting engaged in by AP in agreeing to float the "unauthorized" military officials' speculations, in the face of clear rebuttal by the White House, and even under the clearly misleading headline, based on a general's words, "Obama expects support for more Afghanistan troops".  It is hard to imagine the "military officials" are not part of the McChrystal faction, if not McChrystal speaking off the record his very self.  

McChrystal has already implicitly challenged the president in public by saying not granting his troop request "risks failure," which is when Obama should have fired him. At any rate he could be fired for that alone and be made an example of. An underling does not constrict the president's options by hinting at treason ("failure" would mean more terrorist attacks) in public. How they fight it out behind closed doors is another matter.

In the run-up to the president's decision on what he will do in Afghanistan, a Constitutional crisis has reared its head.  Will Obama tolerate this insubordination? Or will he do a Harry Truman?

Truman, when asked what he would do about General Douglas MacArthur's public disagreement with Truman's decision to stop advancement into North Korea at the 38th parallel, answered to reporters "I'm going to fire the son-of-a-bitch." And he did, the very next day.  Truman understood that his decision-making could not be hemmed in by insubordinate generals. MacArthur threatened to, and for a while did, explore a presidential run.  He quickly quit it, finding out that it wasn't so easy to gain support when it relied on give-and-take rather than issuing orders.  

It's not as if it's not important. A major troop escalation could determine a footprint in the country which will harden Afghan perceptions of imperialist ambitions, and turn this into a real shooting war, If you think Afghans have even begun to fight, they haven't. If the administration wants something leaked, that's what "unnamed administration sources" are for.  A general's job is to give his best advice, in private, to his commmander-in-chief, await what he decides, and then follow through with his orders faithfully.  Just do it, Mr. President.  Fire the son-of-a bitch.

Forward this post to White House."Fire McChrystal now!"

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Obama and His Generals, a One-Act

Just indulging in a little fantasy upon the announcement of President Obama rejecting all four of the "options" for Afghanistan given to him by General Stanley McChrystal.  Growing into his commander-in-chief shoes.  We are a fly on the wall in a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Obama (waving papers):"I said options, dammit.  You guys call these options?" (reads through a few pages.) "This looks like various proportions of the same old shit.  Stanley, you mean to tell me this is the best you can do?"(General Stanley McChrystal shifts uncomfortably)

McChrystal:"Sir, I..."

(Cuts him off) Obama:
"I mean look at this, the 'high-risk' option is 15,000 more troops, running to 'medium risk' at 20,000 more, on up to 'lowest risk' at 60,000.  You all know damned well your own counter-insurgency manual says 20 troops  for every 1,000 inhabitants for a successful operation.  Isn't that what it says?  That's 700,000 troops, which we don't have.

General Number 2:
 "Yes, sir, but..."

Obama:"And what about that book has changed between then and now?  Nothing.  So how is 60,000 more troops "low risk?" (casts his eyes about the room.  No answers.)

McChrystal:"Sir, we're going to be risking failure if we don't go in there with more guys.  We don't want that sir."

Obama:"Stan, it was All Quiet on the Western Front there until four years ago.  Then the suicide bombings started, and the car bombs, and the attacks on our boys, and all you guys are doing is running around the countryside with more bang bang and shoot-em-up.  Now every other boy in Afghanistan is working for the Taliban, at least part time. Part-time!  (waves a newspaper report) What the hell is this, Store 24?  It says here no one even likes the Taliban!  What in the hell have you guys been doing over there?"

General Number 3:"You can't believe everything you read, sir."

"I know that, general, but if this is even a little true then we're missing the boat somewhere."

(Obama paces, looking through reports.  His necktie is loose and his sleeves are rolled up.  He lights up a cigarette)

"Any of you guys tell Michelle and I'll kill you.  You can smoke em if you got em." (a couple of other generals light up, the others are not bothered.)

"Now what about this situation, from relative peace to full-blown chaos, does not constitute failure already, Stanley?  Anybody?  And now you come in here with more of the same of what got us to this point."

(taps at pages in his hand as he speaks)

Obama:"Look at this, 20 percent of the same old shit.  50 percent of the same old shit.  100 percent of the same old shit.  But it's still the same old shit!  Now gentlemen. when I say options, I want some options.  Go in there and do some thinking.  Then come back to me.  This guy Eikenberry, he's one of you right?  Went to West Point and everything, right?  Earned his stars, was former commander of US forces there, right?  Now he comes telling me what I've got here is a pig wearing a gold ear ring.  What is it that he knows that you don't know?"

(The president sits at the head of the table, rubs his forehead a minute.  Folds his hands and leans across the table, looking around the room full bore.  The generals hush.)

Obama:"Fellas, I don't want to be signing thousands of more letters to boys' mamas.  I'm the one who has got to look their mamas in the eye, and watch them coming in at Dover.  When their mamas fall to the floor I am the one who must answer to them was this absolutely necessary.  Now get back there and craft me some options.  Everyone back here at 0300 hours tomorrow morning, that's when my bird lands and I'll be taking off again six hours later.    Don't bring me three donkeys, one in a blue dress, one in white one, and one in a red.  When I say options I mean options."

(President stands.  Officers snap to attention.)

Obama:"One more thing.  I catch one of you guys leaking to the papers about how I've already made up my mind when I haven't, I'll fire his ass.  Understood?"


"Dismissed."(Generals turn to leave.  One officer remains standing, a junior grade attache just back from combat, now assigned to Washington.)

Obama:"Yes, son?"

Soldier, turns directly to Obama:"Sir.  Thank you sir."(salutes.  The president, looking a little puzzled, returns the salute.  Soldier looks down quickly, turns smartly on his heel and exits the room.)

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McChrystal's 40,000 Troop Hoax

It's a time-honored Washington tradition. If you want to bully the government into doing something unpopular and the public into accepting it, manufacture a false emergency. Iraq war? If you don't approve it, mushroom cloud. Banker or IMF bailout? If you don't approve it, financial collapse. Social security privatization? If you don't approve it, the system will go "bankrupt."Our brand is crisis, as James Carville might say.

General McChrystal says that if President Obama does not approve 40,000 more U.S. troops for Afghanistan, and approve them right away, "our mission" - whatever that is - will likely "fail" - whatever that is.

But even if President Obama were to approve General McChrystal's request, the 40,000 troops wouldn't arrive in time to significantly affect the 12-month window McChrystal says will be decisive. So McChrystal's request isn't about what's happening in Afghanistan right now. It's about how many troops the U.S. will have in Afghanistan a year from now and beyond.

There is no emergency requiring a quick decision by President Obama.

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