Watch what you say around the office. Especially if the office is in the Rolling Stone Magazine building. The subject seems tired already but is too important to leave alone. I’m already tired of hearing about it, but feel the need, naturally, to opine about it just the same.
General Stanley McChrystal owes no apology to the nation. His reputation and achievements, unlike our President, precede him. Still, he needed to go. There was no question in my mind. The office of the President of the United States simply cannot be lowered to that level. It’s not Sean Penn blabbering away to Rolling Stone, it’s military brass.
Early on I figured it was all by design. Perhaps McChrystal chose Rolling Stone to be sure that the President might read the interview. It’s hard to believe that a guy this sharp wandered into that interview not knowing what was coming, or the outcome. It’s also not hard to understand the frustration he must be feeling. The Obama administration, which should be consulting with him at least weekly, took months to sit down with him, and even then, only the most cursory of meetings. It must be something to be living that Hell, and simultaneously be barely noticed as important by your own White House.
The problem precedes the Obama White House though. It began in Vietnam, really, when the waging of wars and building of strategy drifted from the hands of military brass and into the sweaty palms of politicians. Not good. One would think the nation would have learned its lesson. Look…soldiers fighting for our safety and freedom have tighter Rules of Engagement than I do as a homeowner in New Hampshire. If someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night, in any kind of threatening way, I make the rules of engagement on the spot. We have so hog-tied our fighting men and women trying to make war not hurt, that our battles have turned into what Dennis Miller once called a “horrific dogpaddle”. He’s right. And McChrystal was right to fall on his sword for the good of the troops. Already, Petraeus is talking about loosening those rules. You know…so maybe we can win the thing and come home.
It’s funny, because I supported John McCain for President, lots of folks told me they thought of him as a war monger. I disagree. Who better to know what Hell war can bring than someone who endured it. It only seems fitting to me that our Commander in Chief be someone who has seen battle. It is the most consequential of Presidential responsibilities, sending men and women to battle. You wouldn’t hire a Fire Chief who had never been in a burning building. You wouldn’t ride in an airplane with a pilot who had only watched movies about flying. People jump up and down at the notion that military service should be a pre-requisite for being President, but I believe it firmly. I also believe, had McCain beat Bush in 2000, Iraq would not have happened, or it would have happened much differently. War must be the last of last resorts. As we look at the last nine years, we remember why.
It’s ironic that Obama’s first display of leadership was shown in the swift sacking of a real leader. Hurt feelings, to be sure, and insubordination, made it a sure thing. If only he had had the same juice for the oil spill, things might be looking a lot different in the Gulf right now.
Thank you, General McChrystal, for the depth of your service to this country. I’m glad you’re out. You deserve it. Go clean up on the speech circuit now. You’ve earned it.