Thursday, June 24, 2010

The morning after

It's the morning after the president's big military shake up and dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal. So what has changed? I watched as many Americans did yesterday, as the president outlined his reasons for accepting Gen. McChrystal's resignation. And if anyone believes that was a resignation, then they probably also believe that Barack Obama is doing everything that he possibly can to stop the oil spill in the gulf.

General McChrystal didn't resign, he was fired. Just like his predecessor Gen. McKiernan was fired a year ago to make room for McChrystal. And the evidence of that reality was literally dripping from Obama's speech about the change in command yesterday if anyone was listening.

Yes, the president gave the dying warrior his due on the alter of public announcement, but Obama also made it implicitly clear that he doesn't intend to tolerate anymore back biting and infighting in his regime from here on out. Which leads me to wonder if he won't at some point re-institute firing squads. That may be a closer reality than many people are willing to admit right now.

Obama wasn't humiliated by the general's remarks, but he was angered by the fact that once again McChrystal had stepped outside of the little box he was being kept in. And in doing so, he revealed the cracks in the foundation of this administration that are leading to a crumbling end to the war in Afghanistan and a loss.

Stanley McChrystal wasn't sent to Afghanistan to win a war, he was sent there to be a caretaker while this president lost it. And now the general has lost his career as a result of his own foolish decision to ever take the command.

Stanley McChrystal would have been far better served to simply refuse the command last year. Certainly that would have eliminated all hopes of his ever attaining his fourth star and the rank of general, but there are far worse things in life than not being a four star general. And as of this morning, I believe Gen. McChrystal is beginning to see those things for what they truly are.

Setting aside the platitudes that the president offered concerning Gen. McChrystal as he fired him, the reality this morning is quite different from the landscape painted by the president yesterday.

General McChrystal was ordered to Washington 'immediately' He apparently had little time to do much more than pack an overnight bag and hop a military airlift command jet back to Washington. And his staff apparently fared no better. They were summoned along with him, probably to be given their separate lashing at the hands of Pentagon brass, while the president ordered McChrystal to walk the plank.

And the news reports this morning are, that neither the general or his staff will be allowed to return to Afghanistan. Not even to pack up their personal effects. Those are already being packed for shipment as the sun rose this morning over the Potomac.

So I would imagine, there is at least a brigadier  and a colonel or two and a few majors, who are looking for a safe landing somewhere in the army this morning. They will try and recoup what is left of their careers as far as their pensions are concerned, but Gen. McChrystal is finished. There will be no change of command ceremony, no striking the colors or a parade to honor his thirty four years of service in uniform.

As another once great general one lamented, after having himself been unceremoniously hoisted on is own petard......"old soldiers never die....they simply fade away."

And Stanley McChrystal will now fade away. 

But the problems in Afghanistan and the problems that this nation faces will not simply fade away. And the new general in charge will fair no better. Many have attempted to make the comparison between Obama and Lincoln. I myself have never been fooled by the attempts at metaphorical comparison of the two, but I now see an irony coming into focus.

President Lincoln spent the first three years of his presidency trying to find a general who would fight and take the war to the enemy. I believe that president Obama is well on his way to investing an equal amount of time trying to find a general willing to lose the war in Afghanistan.

Therefore, that is the main reason why I don't believe Gen. McChrystal's successor will fair any better. As I don't believe that Gen. Petraeus is that general either.

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