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The Real McChrystal Story

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
June 22, 2010
The Daily Beast

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Here's the real story behind the nasty, anti-Obama remarks by General Stanley McChrystal and his staff in Rolling Stone. The U.S. military, officers and enlisted ranks don't like and don't trust Democrats and liberals. The bad feelings are mainly about values, style and constancy more than policy. The military feel the Democrats come at common problems from a different place and don't stick to agreed plans when the going gets rough. The Rolling Stone article barely mentions policy differences over Afghanistan or anything else. And whether or not Mr. Obama fires the U.S./NATO commander, there's likely to be a firestorm of criticism about the White House, perhaps reaching Tea Party proportions.

After all, the nation is at war, and Americans haven't seen such a spectacle since President Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. Well, actually, there was a similar trauma with the military less than two years ago when President Obama fired Gen. David McKiernan, then U.S./NATO commander for Afghanistan, for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about conducting a counterinsurgency strategy against the Taliban. McChrystal, a known enthusiast for just such a strategy, was selected as his replacement, and the noise about McKiernan quickly faded. Criticism of the White House was also smothered by the fact that Gen. David Petraeus, the overall regional commander, strongly endorsed both a counterterrorism strategy and McChrystal. Suffice it to say that McKiernan had many allies in the military and his summary dismissal by Mr. Obama was not forgotten.

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