Foreign Policy

Obama Missteps on McChrystal

Why firing the general is not likely to help.


In making and tolerating disparaging comments about his civilian superiors in front of a reporter, Gen. Stanley McChrystal failed a test of leadership, judgment, and respect for his role in a democratic government. But most obviously, he failed an IQ test.

Popping off about people in the Obama administration in the presence of a journalist can be characterized by many adjectives. "Smart" is not one of them.

By any reasonable standard, President Obama had ample cause to sack him. But if he thought McChrystal was the right person to lead the U.S. effort in Afghanistan before the latest issue of Rolling Stone came out, he should have stuck with that judgment.

The strategy Obama has embraced, after all, is the one devised by McChrystal. As the president noted in firing him, they were in complete accord on how to prosecute the war.

Gen. David Petraeus, who conceived and oversaw the surge in Iraq, is obviously competent to replace him. But putting him in command in Afghanistan deprives the president of his services as head of Central Command, a more important job.

So he and members of his staff think the people they have to work with and answer to are morons? Guess what: Millions of Americans feel the same way about their bosses and co-workers. (Some soldiers feel the same way about McChrystal.) As a rule, that doesn't keep them from doing their jobs.

I suspect Rahm Emanuel has said worse about Obama when he gets home from a hard day at work. But unless McChrystal or Emanuel is impossibly at odds with the president on his basic policies, such expressions of frustration don't keep them from serving him well.

The bigger problem is that the general let his discontent become public. It is a grave offense in a constitutional republic for generals to undermine their commander-in-chief. Even many conservative critics of Obama agree that McChrystal committed a "firing offense."

But just because he deserved dismissal doesn't mean the president should have given it to him. The embarrassment McChrystal brought on himself was enough to remind everyone that generals serve presidents, not the other way around.

It turns out Obama is not as much like Lincoln as he aspires to be. The 16th president, who had his own war to run, had many opportunities to take umbrage at disrespectful conduct by his highest Army officers. And he repeatedly put the nation's needs first.

Once, when Lincoln paid an evening visit to his top commander, George McClellan, the famously arrogant general came home and went to bed without so much as acknowledging the president. Lincoln shrugged it off, saying he would hold McClellan's horse if it would produce a victory.

Eventually, he replaced the battle-shy McClellan with Joseph Hooker, who had said the country needed a dictator. Lincoln wrote Hooker, "Only those generals who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship." He was not about to let pride or other non-essential concerns get in the way of defeating the enemy.

Obama should have followed that example. He put McChrystal in command because he saw him as the best person to implement the strategy he sees as our best hope in Afghanistan. McChrystal's disdain for Joe Biden doesn't make him any less suitable for the role.

It is tempting for a boss to fire an underling who has been caught in an act of insubordination. But what underling is less likely to commit insubordination than one who has undergone public humiliation for it?

None of this is to excuse the general's abysmal decision to vent so freely. What was said of Napoleon's execution of a prominent duke—"It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder"—applies here.

A general may be forgiven for an insult to civilian rule. But McChrystal did far worse: He let down the men and women whose lives are on the line in Afghanistan. He allowed himself to create a major distraction from the task at hand, doing a favor to the Taliban and al-Qaida. He impeded the prosecution of a war we are not winning.

But firing him is not likely to help. Here's what Obama should have told McChrystal: "General, you screwed up big-time, and your conduct is inexcusable. Here is your punishment: You have the most impossible job in the world, and you will keep doing it."


NEXT: How The Nation Enjoys Sports Victories

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Good morning reason!

  2. Al Gore is in the news again. He must not have made her as hot as he thought.

    1. It’s a wonder she didn’t leave him sooner.

      Oh, and… good morning, Suki!

  3. McChrystal did far worse: He let down the men and women whose lives are on the line in Afghanistan.

    Funny, we don’t think we’ll notice a difference.

    1. I couldn’t get past the information that a human being named Rexford Tugwell once walked this earth.

      1. I betcha somewhere in the deep dark recesses of the south there is a Rexford Tugwell the 3rd

          1. What do the New Christy Minstrels have to do with all this?

            1. or that other folk group that only performs once a month

              The New Christy Menstruals

              1. The New Minty Crystals?

    2. It is difficult, and perhaps unwise, to suppress this thought: McChrystal’s disrespectful flippancies, and the chorus of equally disdainful comments from the unpleasant subordinates he has chosen to have around him, emanate from the toxic conditions that result when the military’s can-do culture collides with a cannot-be-done assignment. In this toxicity, Afghanistan is Vietnam redux.

      Ouch. Afghanistan was supposed to be the Soviet’s Vietnam, not our own.

      1. Touche’!

      2. oh please, it isn’t even close to our Vietnam. That’s so historically wrong on so many levels… we had over 500k troops in Vietnam who were fighting a foreign army, supplied with the most modern weaponry the Soviets could supply. 50k plus US troops died in 9 years and who knows how many Vietnamese. there is no comparison between the two wars at any level that make sense other than the media wants to compare EVERY war to Vietnam.

        1. There is no comparison between the two wars at any level…

          Except that we’ll stay until we leave and then the bad guys will take over because the US armed forces can’t change Mullah Omar into Vaclav Havel.

  4. If I make disparaging comments about my XO and they get back to him, I am subject to discipline under UCMJ. As the president said today, the fact that this applies equally to privates and generals is crucial to a functional military.

    Mr. Chapman, you seem to be disappointed at the lack of a grand gesture by the president today, but he certainly made one. This was the moment for Barack Obama not to be emptily magnanimous (he has a Ph.D. in that), but to demonstrate that he doesn’t take shit, and he stepped up.

    1. My quasi-fantasy is that Gen. McChrystal’s frustration is a reflection of the futility of the job at hand. The Government refuses to learn this lesson, thereby throwing more cash down the Afghan Money Pit.

      1. Difficulty does not equal futility. The express purpose of having a military is to kick the crap out of people who attack us, and there is strong historical precedent for its employment in stability operations. The Taliban and Afghanistan fit these criteria.

        If there is frustration in the ranks, it is with the perception of half-measures and pussyfooting around. If all the boots on the ground don’t have at least a vague idea of the methods and benchmarks of COIN, that’s a failure of Gen. McChrystal to perform accountability. There’s reason to hope Gen. Petraeus has the credibility to get both done.

        The Taliban can be defeated, and basic security and subsistence can be achieved in Afghanistan. We have a moral obligation to ourselves to accomplish the former, and to the Afghans to do the latter.

        1. I don’t believe in COIN, which is a fancy word for multi-decade, multi-trillion-dollar nation-building commitments. And we have no moral obligations to the Afghan people; the military has a moral obligation to the people of the United States to keep them safe.

          basic security and subsistence can be achieved in Afghanistan.

          Uh, that’s not the standard; that’s blatant goalpost moving. The progenitor of COIN and nation-building is the Bush Doctrine, which basically reads the failed states produce terrorism, and therefore we must eliminate failed states and reform them into successful states. Basic security and subsistence is a low bar and explicitly not the standard when it comes to the technique you love so much.

          1. I recently attended JRTC at Fort Polk and I can assure you that whatever is being said publicly, building a competent Afghan security apparatus and getting the people their daily bread is what we are training to do.

            1. building a competent Afghan security apparatus and getting the people their daily bread is what we are training to do.

              I don’t doubt that for a second. Not do I believe that it is remotely possible given the reality of the nation of Afghanistan. Daily bread is their responsibility, not ours.

            2. well…JRTC. I am thoroughly abashed.

              Of course, what we are doing now is not the point at all. The original point of all this was as follows:

              1. Unstable, failed or dangerous states, like Afghanistan under the Taliban, are especially vulnerable to the lure of money, notoreity and ideology of dangerous radical Islamist terrorist (i.e. Al Qaeda).

              2. In order to prevent safe havens for those who will commit terrorism, we must reform failed states into stable, successful ones (democracies) like ours or other nations in the West.

              3. COIN is the best strategy for this.

              Providing “substinence and stability” is, quite frankly, something a secular strongman is totally capable of. If you want a piece of cynical realpolitik, we need a Saddam-like character in Afghanistan who realizes that the only thing between him and a noose is us, provided he squashes terrorism in his country.

              1. I don’t understand how what we’re doing now isn’t the point. Developing civil institutions in Afghanistan to the point where they can meet the basic needs of the populace is a cornerstone of COIN as practiced by Gen. McChrystal.

                1. I know that, but originally you said “security and substinence”, which as a standard, is a far cry from “developing civil institutions”.

                  Regardless, “developing civil institutions” is nation-building, and I, unlike you, do not believe we have a moral obligation to nation-build, nor do I believe it works.

                  1. Hey TAO-
                    check the ‘other site’ if you can.

              2. As a former practitioner of real-world (non-tranining exercise) COIN, I must agree. The COIN doctrine represents a complete failure to understand the cultural forces at work with Islamic fundamentalism. COIN worked in Iraq because we were dealing with a largely secular population who had spent the majority of their lives under Baathist government, which was only nominally Muslim. Iraq was a tribal insurgency, not religious warfare. Sunni and Shii’a in Iraq were more tribal identities than religious identities. Muslims in Iraq are not particularly devout, thus all the cigarette smoking and eating of bacon during Ramadan.
                The Taliban are Wahabi Muslims- totally different animal, and politics is not particularly relevant to their cause. The country is far more geographically diverse, lacking of infrastructure of which Iraq has plenty (albeit in terrible disrepair). Islamic Sharia Law regimes are not compatible with democracy, and they shouldn’t necessarily be. Both countries have populations that have never experienced democracy in any form, are not educated and barely literate, and are culturally predisposed to following dictators. There are no Americans inside the Afghanis, struggling to get out.

                If the point is only to “meet basic needs,” go find the strongest war lord with the biggest clan,and hand him the keys to the castle, in the understanding that he is bought and paid for by the U.S., and any shennanigans will result in his bloody replacement.

                And then get the fuck out of Afghanistan.

            3. recently attended JRTC at Fort Polk and I can assure you that whatever is being said publicly, building a competent Afghan security apparatus and getting the people their daily bread is what we are training to do

              I recently (as in last week) concluded a one year tour in Kabul. Yes, we are training to do what you say, (NTM-A is the main effort and all that) but it begs the question as to whether we can actually *do* it.

        2. “The Taliban can be defeated”

          This is true, however the American public wouldn’t put up with the draconian measures it would take to accomplish this. Currently, we are wasting time, lives, & resources on a impossible task. There is no way WE can reshape Afghan society into a stable representative democracy. Our government knows this & is lying to the American & Afghan people.

      2. Agree with you, TAO, which is why I think Obama assigned Petraeus to the job. My fear is that the Afghan situation is a total shit sandwich, with no way to “win”, and so why not hand it over to a general with alleged political ambitions? Sort of related to making Hilary Secretary of State.

    2. Of course he stepped up. Up is the only direction he could go. Which makes his choice less impressive.

  5. Read self-indulgent vulgarities and get your breakfast off to a roaring start.

    1. Wow, that is the most disgusting thing I’ve read in a while, including SugarFree’s posts. Why the hell would anyone eat their placenta.

      1. Woo-hoo! Competing with SugarFree is like the Hippie Olympics. Doesn’t matter who wins ’cause we’re all losers.

        1. Hey!

  6. What a puerile article:
    1) The General’s policies have been a disaster for the people living in Afghanistan.

    2) There are tens of general officers, equally bloodthirsty, in the wings ready to step in and take over.

    3) The firing of a general isn’t undermining the war effort or emboldening an enemy; the fact that the U.S. army has to pay them off to avoid getting its supply lines severed is doing the job just fine.

    Keeping the general around benefits no one. The guy was & is a major tool, and the world would be a better place if he ruptured his aorta and dropped down dead.

    I’m actually stunned to read a defense of the guy & a plea to keep him killing people on behalf of an unpopular islamic govt – focusing on a need to enhance the imperial majesty of the presidency & U.S. army – on the website of this magazine.

    What’s next, a defense of Che?

    1. Tarran, were you born an ignorant asshole, or did yuo take lessons fron Obama?

  7. I agree with the author that if Obama had decided that McChrystal was the right man to lead the efforts in Afghanistan, then the General’s comments should not change that opinion, regardless of how inappropriate they may have been. I also agree with the author’s opinion that the comments should not have been made public, but only in as much as the audience to which they were made. If the comments had been made in a more formal setting, such as a 60 Minutes interview, and with more professional conviction than quasi-slander, they would have been better received by all. I also firmly believe that in any structured hierarchy of men, be it civilian or military, a leader’s responsibility to the men beneath him is much greater than the responsibility to those above him. If the General felt like he and his men were put in an impossible position, those feelings should have been presented to the President. If no action was taken to correct the grievance, then the feelings should have been made public to force action.

    1. You are wrong. If a General feels he cannot carry out the orders given by his commander-in-chief then his/her obligation is to keep quiet and step down.

      As a senior leader, General McChrystal’s responsibility is divided between his troops and his civilian leadership — t’was always thus and ever shall be for the higher ranks. A decision made to serve the interests of one side often hurts the other.

      But one of the General’s most important responsibilities that benefits BOTH sides is to never interfere with the relationship between them. A good military leader is a conduit; (s)he doesn’t blame an order that gets soldiers killed on someone else, because by accepting the order (s)he has agreed with it — that’s the way it works. If a General cannot carry out an order in good conscience then the only way to preserve good order and discipline in the ranks is to keep quiet and step aside.

      Every soldier knows this.

      It is not just faith and trust in President Obama that General McChrystal has trampled. Ex-CENTCOM Commander General Patraeus, McChrystal’s former direct reporting official, is now taking over in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s orders may have ultimately come from President Obama, but they went through CENTCOM first, which means General Patraeus must have accepted them since he has not resigned. Patraeus’s first job when he gets in theater will now have to be explaining to the combat troops why McChrystal was wrong, and he and President Obama are right.

      Do you think this chore will be difficult or easy? Do you think soldiers already stressed in combat conditions need this kind of distraction? Do you think this will help the soldiers getting shot at, or hurt them?

      1. I read every word McChrystal and his associates said. Quite frankly, some people are acting like he was ready to lead a military coup on our own government.

  8. On the bright side for McChrystal, he should easily be able to pick up an analyst job at Fox. Had he dissed the previous administration, he would have been forced to take a post-resignation gig at CNN, CBS News, ABC News, NBC News or [shudder] MSNBC.

    1. He is no Pat Buchanan, that is for sure.

    2. He is actually a big liberal. He banned Fox News from his headquarters. I doubt he has much desire to work for them.

      1. He had voted for Obama, and had had his expectations crushed.

  9. Why no linkie to the Rolling Stone article?

    It is a tedious read and the author pops a major chubbie just being in the presence of all of that military testosterone, but it does a good job of explaining how inextricably linked Obama is to McChrystal and his Afghanistan policy. It also helps understand to read what McChrystal did and did not say. And it really makes you wonder what the guy was thinking in agreeing to meet with the reporter.

    1. What did the general actually get quoted in there directly that should get him fired?

      1. There is a good deal of innuendo about how little he thinks of President Obama, Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke but little of it substantive. Other than that the only direct quote is one presented out of context that makes very little sense:

        “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”

        I would guess that Obama’s camp feels threatened by the cult of personality surrounding McChrystal. The fact that the general admits to voting for Obama should be a clear indication of his poor judgment.

    2. I got as far as this:

      He [McChrystal] prefers Bud Light Lime

      Egad! Obama was right to fire his ass.

      1. And his favorite movie is Taladaga Nights… a funny movie to be sure, but what does it say about one of the most powerful men in the world that his favorite movie of all time is Taladaga Nights!?!?!?!

  10. My only problem is this:

    If I thought for one second that Obama fired the general because he believed that the breaches of protocol in question threatened order in the ranks, I would support it. If I thought for one second that Obama fired the general for any reason related to military efficiency or the war effort, I’d support it.

    But I don’t think those things for one second.

    I think Obama fired McChrystal purely because his political advisors told him he had to do so to “look strong”.

    Since I completely believe that Obama made this decision as a personal political calculation and not out of military necessity, I can’t respect it any more than I can respect any of the rest of the 24/7 whoring, posturing and bullshitting that goes on.

    1. +1. If McCrystal is the right guy for the job, thinking James Jones is a clown and Joe Biden a buffoon (not exactly unique positions) doesn’t change that.

      I would also note that the same people who in 2007 were saying that Petreus was a liar and political hack for telling Congress that the Iraq surge was working are now proclaiming his choice to command Afghanistan as “brilliant”.

    2. how many actions do you suppose politicians take that are *not* the result of personal political calculations?

  11. Jesus. I didn’t realize McCrystal’s staff is a who’s who of ass kicking. I’m amazed they didn’t just snatch Biden up and give him a swirly.

    1. “Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?”

  12. Strewth! Me bloody country’s being run by a sheila!…..-plan.html

  13. At least Rolling Stone got what it doubtless wanted: a renewed presidential commitment to victory in Afghanistan under a new, more forceful combat leader.

    “Once when I was reporting, Lyndon Johnson’s top guy gave me the word they were looking for a successor to J. Edgar Hoover. I wrote it and the day it appeared Johnson called a press conference and appointed Hoover head of the FBI for life… And when he was done, he turned to his top guy and the President said, “Call Ben Bradlee and tell him fuck you.” I took a lot of static for that–everyone said, “You did it, Bradlee, you screwed up–you stuck us with Hoover forever.”” ?All the President’s Men

  14. “What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.” He was not about to let pride or other non-essential concerns get in the way of defeating the enemy.

    Obama should have followed that example.

    And… you lost me.

    1. Except that Hooker, and his subordinate, Howard, made military history by their incompetence at the debacle of Chancellorsville.

    2. Lincoln didn’t give a shit that McClellen and Hooker were insolent asses that committed petty insults. He just wanted a general who could win. He didn’t fire McCellen because he was a jerk with a Napoleon complex. He fired him because he was a loser.

      1. I take this as a criticism of Lincoln as commander-in-chief. He kept fumbling around for three years until he found Grant and brought him East in 1864.

        1. I don’t. You never know how a general is going to do in battle until you put them there. On paper, Pope, McClellen, Hooker, Burnside, and Hallack were all much better than Grant or Sherman. Grant was a life time fuck up. Mcclellan was one of the greatest cadets in the history of West Point and had a stellar peace time army career. Indeed, it was Mcclellan who trained and built the Army of the Potomac. There is no way that Lincoln or anyone could have known in 1862 that Grant was the right man for the job.

          1. Well, we could go on this all day and not prove anything. Suffice it to say that Jeff Davis faced the same problem, but only had to worry about defensive warfare.

            1. True. And Davis made his share of mistakes to. Braxton Bragg was a disaster. There is a great story about the siege of Atlanta. Davis sends Hood down to check out the situation. Hood talks to Joe Johnston the commander and tells him that Davis thought there could be some opportunities to take the offensive. To which Johnston responded, “Davis also thought he could make Braxton Bragg a soldier”. Ouch.

  15. But just because he deserved dismissal doesn’t mean the president should have given it to him. The embarrassment McChrystal brought on himself was enough to remind everyone that generals serve presidents, not the other way around.

    Sorry Steve but your wrong. As per the UCMJ, that little thing that McCrystal and the rest of the military has to abide by:
    ? 888. Art. 88. Contempt toward officials
    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.

    So even if Obama hadn’t taken his resignation, McCrystal would have been sacked by the Army for the public comments he made.

    1. Yes – and the UCMJ also calls for the punishment of heterosexual oral sex. What’s your point here? You need to give your top guys some latitude in order for them to have space to operate. That’s true across all large and important organizations.

      1. Largely that McCrystal should have known better in the first place, and been very careful about what he said when the reporter was even in the same building that he was, and instructed his staff to do the same. He put himself in a bad position, and while I have no doubt that the reporter was gunning for McCrystal to say anything compromising, McCrystal really should have known better.

        It also hurt that he didn’t even say anything insightful in the comments that have come under fire, or if Afghanistan was even a winnable war in any sort of perceivable way, maybe he could have kept his job if that were the case. It’s politics, it sucks, and it’s stupid, but at his rank your really only one small fuck-up away from being out of a job. You only get latitude at the top if you can show positive results, otherwise you’re on a very short leash. And at this point, short of Afghanistan suddenly becoming a first-world nation, nobody is going to look like their doing a good job there.

        Also, I knew two people who were charged under the heterosexual oral sex bit, as well as several others who had as conduct unbecoming as their only charge.

        1. Astrid, you do know your name sounds like “Ass-turd” with that spelling.

          1. I blame the Gin.

            1. At 10 AM? You must be British.

            2. It’s the online equivalent of letting you know you have spinach or broccoli in your teeth. Cheers! (And I hope it was Bombay Sapphire!)

              1. There are other brands?

                1. I’m strictly a Tanqueray guy.

    2. How do you get “would have been sacked” from “punished as a court-martial may direct”? One doesn’t necessarily follow from the other.

    3. You are correct in that it can and should be punished, but no where does it say that punishment must be relief from command. People shoot their mouths off about and to their commanders all the time. And not all of them are relieved from command or court martialed. Some of them are just chewed out. Obama could have reprimanded him and left him in command and still upheld the letter and spirit of the law.

      1. Yes, what McCrystal said was nothing new nor was it particularly bad compared to what is probably being said by other troops. But that it’s at least national news makes a very big difference in how things are handled. It also doesn’t help that he’s in charge of a war, that even if won really isn’t going to look like any sort of military victory. And while the article is full of all sorts of negative spin and such, it really didn’t cast McCrystal in a very good light at a time when the military really can’t afford to look that way. The circumstances play a very big role in this as well.

    4. Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President…

      So what were the “contemptuous” words McChystal directed towards Obama or Biden?

      1. I agree. He pretty much told the truth, especially about Biden.

    5. There are Constitutional limitations of Article 88, to some extent recognized in military justice case law. I cannot express an opinion one way or another on the limited facts at hand, but it is doubtful that McCrystal’s own comments, at worst flippant, would support a prosecution. The General acted improperly, and should have been removed, if for nothing else, for not controlling his subordinates. There are First Amendment issues in play here, however, and contempt is a higher standard than “Who’s that?” concerning the Vice-President. Think of something like McClellan calling Lincoln, “The origional Gorilla.”

  16. Can we just call a do over and just start this whole war thing over and not go to war?

  17. http://washingtonindependent.c…..e-too-late

    Thread jack for the worst idea in “foreclosure relief” I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard some bad ones.

    A similar measure is also in the financial regulatory reform bill, currently being completed in conference committee and expected to be finished by July 4. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has requested that the final bill include a House provision providing low-interest loans to the unemployed facing foreclosure. The provision is modeled after Pennsylvania’s Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, or HEMAP, which has successfully helped 43,000 unemployed mortgage-holders. The $3 billion national program would offer unemployed homeowners low-interest loans for up to $50,000, funded from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to help them pay their mortgages for up to two years until they find jobs. Homeowners would make low payments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the spell of joblessness, and then repay the government after finding work.

    The fate of the proposal remained uncertain as of the time of this article’s writing. Frank said that rather than taking the funds out of TARP, he might assess very big banks and hedge funds. “I think it would be a good thing for some of those very highly paid employees to contribute some money to help people losing their homes because in many cases it was their misjudgments that led to that happening,” Frank told reporters on Wednesday.

    I can GUARANTEE you that if the federal government starts handing out TARP funds as loans, the loans won’t be dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    So basically this program will take tax dollars, funnel those tax dollars to lenders using these borrowers as patsy intermediaries, and then stick these borrowers with debts they can’t discharge for life.

    These borrowers would be vastly better off mailing the lender their keys. In non-recourse states, there’s no question they would be better off.

    Basically, they want to take people who now face some humiliation, some credit score damage, and the inconvenience of finding a new place to live – and they want to enserf those people to the government forever, in order to try to use them to prop up housing prices.

    Oh, the other horrific idea in that article? “Freedom to rent”. “Freedom to rent” means that they’re going to pass a law banning landlords from looking at the credit reports of prospective tenants. Wow, what a fantastic idea! And so very, very FAIR, too!

    1. I don’t know that I would gaurentee they won’t be dischargable. They might not be. But I would like to see the law. I could see it going either way.

      Regardless it is a stupid idea. Those people are unemployed, how are they going to pay a low interest loan? Maybe they should get out from under their house and you know rent for a while. Figures Barney Frank is behind it. Is there any dumb idea concerning housing and finance that either him or Chris Dodd isn’t behind?

    2. Or they are easily dischargeable and this is just a backdoor way to enact more “stimulus”. Think about it – free money for the banks (again!)

    3. I woke up and all of a sudden we were systematically rewarding failure.

    4. They make it seem like these people who are losing their homes are losing the home that grandpa built with his bare hands…or some similar tragic type story. These people over-bought a house 3-5 years ago, I doubt there is much emotional tie to the house, let it go already. A few years in the rental market will do them good, and as long as they have income they will be able to rent might not be as nice as that McMansion they lost, but they will have a roof over their heads!

  18. Home Affordable Modification Program

    So, now TARP is being *further* HAMPered?

    Seriously, this stuff is incredible. Barney Frank needs to be interviewed by Rolling Stone, or something. 8-(

  19. Contrast the reaction of Lincoln, an actual strong person and politician with Obama’s. Obama is thin skinned and weak and thus has to over compensate.

  20. Would have been funny had the General given Obama a good ole fashion beat down on the way out!


    1. Anon-bot makes me laugh more consistently than most human commentors. Is that more damning of me or of y’all?

      1. You.

  21. Why did McChrystal talk to Rolling Stone? Rolling Stone has never been a hotbed of support for the war so doing an interview with them would not support his position.
    If the General was Ordered to do the interview then the failure is the responsibility of the person who gave that order. Like say …. President Obama.

    1. I wondered that to. But he is a big liberal and a child of the 1970s. Maybe he just thought it was cool to get an interview with Rolling Stone. That magazine still has a lot of cache with people of a certain age.

  22. Lincoln let generals go that were failing. By almost all accounts, McChrystals strategy is failing.

  23. It looks to me like our military is committing the classic blunder in Afghanistan of fighting the last war (Iraq).

    They are trying to transplant the surge strategy to Afghanistan, but I think they are likely to fail.

    (1) The surge worked in Iraq by turning the locals against a largely foreign insurgency. Most of the AQ fighters in Iraq were from other countries. Most of the Taliban in Afghanistan are local boys. I don’t think the locals will turn on them nearly as easily.

    (2) The surge worked in Iraq with equal parts more soldiers and more aggression. We haven’t put nearly as many more soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, and have handcuffed them with restrictive, not aggressive, ROE.

    (3) Finally, the surge worked in Iraq because there was a semi-competent government in the making to hand over pacified provinces to. I don’t see one on the horizon in Afghanistan.

    1. committing the classic blunder

      You mean a land war in Asia?

      1. We missed the memo that Asian land powers can ever be defeated.

        1. It’s ok, I missed the memo about taking on Sicilians when death is on the line.

          1. Shut up, Benito. You’re the Joe Besser of 1940s world leaders.

  24. Can we skip all the historical analogies? I don’t really care how Scipio Africanus deployed his heavy cavalry at Zama. What Obama should have done, and obviously lacked the courage to do, was end, not McChrystal’s career, but the abysmal and abominable Afghanistan War.

    The abysmal and abominable mainstream media will by and large applaud Obama’s action. He’s acted “tough” without making any substantive change in policy. What looked like a disaster for him has turned into a real plus, for the next month or two.

    And maybe Patreus is a miracle worker, that is to say, maybe instead of leaving abruptly, we’ll leave “gracefully,” at the cost of $70 or $80 billion dollars and 10 or 20 thousand lives, almost all of them Afghan, which is all, sadly enough, that the majority of the American people care about. Yeah, it looks like a big win all around all right.

  25. We would ask you for an interview, but we hear you are herpes contagious.

  26. In today’s Detroit Free Press one of the editorial writers suggests that McChrystal is no dummy, and knew exactly what he was doing–essentially resigning in such a way that he can secure for himself a pulpit later to criticize the running of the war.
    I haven’t been paying much attention to this whole thing, but it seems to me that nobody becomes a four-star general then ‘accidentally’ mouths off to reporters from Rolling Stone while in a bar.
    Read about it here

    1. You beat me to it.

    2. My thoughts exactly. This was intentional. Not sure what the motives were, but it may have been as simple as to provoke a change in policy, having exhausted other means for accomplishing that.

      Whatever the merits of his statements, and whatever suckitude that Obama and his administration bring to the table, total civilian control of the military is critical. So if the guy was openly insubordinate, even mildly so, it’s best to kick him out.

    3. yeah – that’s been my theory. Either he got hisself fired on purpose, or he’s fucking retarded. Either way he had to go.

      I just wish we would in turn go get the hell out of Afghanistan.

    4. The only Obama official that McChrystal fails to run thru the ringer is Hillary.
      I say this is another ploy by the Clintons to take down Obama.

  27. Had the general made these comments about a Republican president he would be hailed as a hero speaking truth to power.

    Has any army successfully occupied that corner of the world?

    1. “Has any army successfully occupied that corner of the world?

      A good rule of thumb is that if Alexander the Great failed conquering it, then you’re shit out of luck to try.

      1. Talk about gays in the military…

    2. I did, once, playing Risk.

    3. Yes several, but not for a very long time.

  28. Another way of thinking on this

    If McChystal had decided that the situation in Afghanistan was an irredeemable clusterfuck.

    He thinks to himself “I don’t want to wear this think when it all goes down, how do I get out of here with my reputation intact?”

    Solution: Slag the boss and get fired.

    1. Aresen

      You are close- read my comment


  29. After reading the article I didn’t see any disparaging remarks about the President from McChrystal. He talked about other people, and mainly his staff talked and gossiped, but not many comments at all by McChrystal. Most of the bad things mentioned in the article were in the past.

    It really doesn’t make sense. More like Obama is embarrassed that subordinates of McChrystal don’t like anyone in State, except for Hillary, who is the only one they seem to respect.

    1. I thought the same thing too… listening earlier this week to radio show hosts who were calling for the president to fire him immediately, when confronted by a caller who asked them if they read the story – they had not. I suspect most people with influence weighing in didn’t read it. It’s long, only mildly interesting and while not very endearing to McCrystal, he is quoted very little in it. It’s his staff that say the controversial things… that really are not that controversial when wondering how out of context they likely are. It sounded more like this reporter followed them to the bar and got a bunch of guys to give comments after a few cold ones after buttering them up. That said… I can only hope that this whole episode will help to bring around the presidents to get us out of Afghanistan. Heh.

  30. Did I read that right? Did Chapman claim that Lincoln becoming a dictator was good for the country?

    1. Careful!
      If you dare to utter even the slightest criticism of Lincoln you become a racist straw man who wishes slavery had never been abolished.

  31. BS BS BS McCrystal carried around nunchucks and quoted Bruce Lee. He was living on another planet! This is the first time Obama has acted like a real president.

    This stupid pointless expensive war has to end. Start pulling out now and tell Petraeus to not let the door hit him in the ass when he leaves.

    Obama is president. Does not mean that we let him get away with anything – but the horsehit whining about that is sounding like those stupid horns in Africa. Bunch of self pitying crybabies.

  32. Has any army successfully occupied that corner of the world? Ever?

    Depends on what you mean by “successfully”. The Medes and the Persians did OK there for hundreds of years. Alexander the Great conquered it, and that area got out from under only when the whole empire collapsed. After some dynastic to-ing and fro-ing, it was part of one of the Caliphates for centuries.

    More recently, the Brits couldn’t be bothered to occupy Afghanistan, but they basically kicked its ass a couple of times, installed rulers, and controlled its foreign policy until WWI.

    So, the idea that Afghanistan has always been able to fend off foreign foes doesn’t really stand up. Because they are remote and don’t have anything anybody really wants, they have enjoyed some independence. Its not so much that it is proof against foreign domination, as it is just basically ungovernable due to a horrid infrastructure and deeply tribalist culture.

    1. My question was not rhetorical. Thank you for the answer.

  33. Wow, that reporter must have been quite the charmer. Either that, or sabotage was in McChrystal’s strategy. There’s no way he didn’t know that the president would fire him over those comments.

  34. Obama did the right thing. Soldiers can’t fight a war knowing that their commander doesn’t believe the war can be won. Especially when the enemy has heard that message too.

  35. The President did the right thing…and didn’t I hear the President said something to the effect, “debate is fine, division is unacceptable.”

  36. The image of Obama soberly contemplating the UCMJ and reluctantly letting McChrystal go because considerations of military morale demanded it is hi-f’n-larious. McC dissed him and Obama went all Chicago on him. The rest is just cover story.

  37. When’s GWBush’s war crimes trial gonna begin?

  38. I just finished reading the Rolling Stone article to judge, for myself, what I think happened. I disagree with every judgement, here and elsewhere, that essentially say McChrystal is stupid. If anything, he is brilliant for creating a reason to be removed from the position of “winning” in Afghanistan, which practically speaking, is not possible.

    McChrystal won! He is no longer holding the proverbial burning bag! Brilliant, I say!

    1. sjdude

      You got it right – please read my comment


  39. you’re right! the general should not have been canned as Jesus did not fire Judas who killed himself just the same for remorse. but again, not firing the general would not create vacancies in the rank and file of the military where promotion is based on vacancies rather than merits (medals sometimes are used for same purpose). so firing the general created opportunities and economic sense.

  40. Sunflowers are always happy to looking at the sun, but who can see it behind the vicissitudes of life, pandora bracelets show in front of people is bright, shiny jewelry, it wrinkled the blue veins that is that itpandoracarries the despair, but It will not give up the bright sadness! Now you may have been very satisfied with the work and life, but you is not even on a level like it?

  41. Unfortunately Steven Chapman has no understanding of the true Warrior Class in the military.
    I quote Chapman, ” Gen. Stanley McChrystal failed a test of leadership, judgment, and respect for his role in a democratic government. But most obviously, he failed an IQ test”.
    The only thing that failed is Chapman’s ability to use rational critical thinking. Which is supposed to be a hallmark of Reason.

    First Gen.(4 Star) McChrystal is known as a very smart general. A true warrior and highly respected. No General gets to be a general without Senate approval so they understand how the civilians keep the senior military officers in line. That applies even more as they rise up in the ranks. Can one think for moment that he did not know that the Rolling Stone people are leftists? That they would use any comment to belittle the military. Rolling Stone told Gen. McChrystal what was in the article and he did not ask for one thing to be changed.

    He knew what he was doing. Gen. McChrystal did a small version of Gen MacArthur and got himself fired. When Gen. Petraeus was selected as his replacement, you can bet that he informed him that he was sick of the whole matter. Gen. Petraeus then used his position and the situation to run the show his way. Note the change in Rules Of Engagement that were imposed on Gen. McChrystal. This not to say they conspired.

    I have spoken to several Generals who are friends of mine about Gen. McChrystal’s so called, “mistake” and all of them asked why haven’t other people recognize it. That it was not a mistake. I am sure Chapman knows Gen. McChrystal is retiring. I make a wager that before the November elections, Gen. McChrystal becomes very vocal about the conduct of this administration’s mishandling of the war. Also some of my General friends feel unless things change, the war in Afghanistan is lost.

    Note how Obama has time for parties, golf, promoting Chicago for the Olympics, and belittling the USA but almost no time and certainly very little effort for the war. Obama had all of 20 minutes for his lead commander on something as important as the Afghan war. One could guess from what the records shows, Obama was very much against the war. Now that he is C&C and has learned that he cannot just pack up and leave Afghanistan. It must a take a great effort just to deal with a war he is against. Playing golf seems like a lot more fun then dealing with Stuff.

    By the way Lincoln said, “He would hold the reins for ANY General who would win for him”.

  42. To: Steve Chapman:

    Several people here see your article for what it is, a lack of critical thought.

    The people who read Reason study history and can think for themselves.

    Next time do a more thoughtful job as your readers are more aware.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.