Gen. Stanley McChrystal was relieved of command in Afghanistan after an article in Rolling Stone magazine.
The article widely was described as evidencing McChrystal’s insubordination by criticizing the political leadership, but as I demonstrated, such explanation did not make a lot of sense. There were almost no comments attributed directly to McChrystal, and most of the sensational comments were by unnamed subordinates of McChrystal.
While McChrystal rightly could be criticized for allowing a reporter for Rolling Stone (who allegedly violated the ground rules of the relationship) to get so close, and perhaps for permitting an inappropriate atmosphere in his command, the scenario of the firing still made no sense to me.
Now the picture may be coming into focus, and the Rolling Stone article may have been the excuse Obama was looking for to fire McChrystal, not the reason.
At least that is what is alleged in an article in The Independent, which maintains that a devastating assessment by McChrystal of the bleak situation in Afghanistan precipitated McChrystal’s termination:
Sacked US General Stanley McChrystal issued a devastatingly critical assessment of the war against a “resilient and growing insurgency” just days before being forced out.
Using confidential military documents, copies of which have been seen by the IoS, the “runaway general” briefed defence ministers from Nato and the International security Assistance Force (Isaf) earlier this month, and warned them not to expect any progress in the next six months. During his presentation, he raised serious concerns over levels of security, violence, and corruption within the Afghan administration….
It was this briefing, according to informed sources, as much as the Rolling Stone article, which convinced Mr Obama to move against the former head of US Special Forces, as costs soar to $7bn a month and the body count rises to record levels, because it undermined the White House political team’s aim of pulling some troops out of Afghanistan in time for the US elections in 2012. In addition to being the result of some too-candid comments in a magazine article, the President’s decision to dispense with his commander was seen by the general’s supporters as a politically motivated culmination of their disagreements.
For most of his first year in office, Obama neglected Afghanistan and focused on passing the Democratic health care bill. Everything else took a back seat.
That neglect, about which I posted earlier, wasted precious time. During that first year, Obama also sent a message of weakness, both through his apology tours and the setting of an artificial withdrawal date.
If the account by The Independent is accurate, then Obama has put politics ahead of the war effort.
This is one of those “it better not be true” scenarios.