June 23rd, 2010
11:22 AM ET

Around the Web: Perspectives on McChrystal's comments

[Updated at 3:07 p.m.] Earlier today, President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal "with considerable regret" and nominated Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command.

Here's some early reaction to Obama's decision:

“I thought Obama's talk was rhetorically perfect, hitting all the right notes in explaining why McChrystal had to go, while paying tribute to McChrystal's service. The only big question he left hanging in just what happens to Central Command. Will Petraeus try to have both commands? Will someone else take over? With Pakistan, Iran and other Middle Eastern issues bubbling out there, this is a question that needs to be addressed ASAP.” (Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy)

"Gen. Stanley McChrystal has submitted his resignation. Or he's been fired. In any case, it was time for him to go. His departure will help slow the increasing erosion in civil-military relations - aided by both political parties over the last 20 years - which has threatened civilian control of the military. It also means we can now turn to a more fundamental exit debate: How do we change course and craft a responsible strategy to end the war in Afghanistan?” (Katrina vanden Huevel, The Washington Post)

“Where some see a conspiracy to influence public opinion, President Obama, according to someone who has spoken with him, found McChrystal to be undisciplined rather than devious. Being undisciplined is a grievous sin in this White House.” (Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic)

“I'm not sure how Obama could have handled this any better. He was genuinely graceful about McChrystal and his explanation of why he had to go made perfect sense. He called for unity within his adminstration in pursuing the war and sounded quite stalwart about both the war and about the strategy. More importantly, his choice of Petraeus as a replacement for McChrystal is a brilliant move: He gets a heavy-weight, an unassailable expert in this kind of warfare, and someone who presumably can step in pretty seamlessly.” (Rich Lowry, National Review)

[Posted at 11:22 a.m.] Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s disparaging comments about President Obama and senior White House officials in a Rolling Stone magazine article elicited a range of reactions across the Web. Here’s a sampling of comments from observers, bloggers, pundits and columnists.

“The president will surely take heat if he replaces McChrystal, and critics are already claiming that any reshuffling at the top will make it impossible to begin drawing down American forces next July, as the president has promised. In fact, the opposite is the case: the best way to ensure that we keep to the timetable is to designate a top commander who will closely follow the lead of his commander in chief.” (Robert Dallek, The New York Times)

“White House officials are seething. They're very angry at McChrystal and their rage at his staff, particularly his senior military assistant, Col. Charles Flynn, and his director of operations, Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, is beyond words. The notion that the White House isn't fully supportive of the strategy bewilders them. Obama, in their estimation, went out of his way to give McChrystal everything he asked for and has backed him by adjusting his diplomatic efforts to accommodate the vacillations of the Karzai government. Indeed, McChrystal is viewed with affection by some of Obama's top aides, though not by others, who remain wary about his past affiliations.” (Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic

“If Stan McChrystal has to go—and he probably does—it will be a sad end to a career of great distinction and a low moment in a lifetime devoted to duty, honor, and country. But the good of the mission and the prospects for victory in Afghanistan may well now demand a new commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.” (Thomas Donnelly and William Kristol, The Weekly Standard)

“Gen. Stanley McChrystal is a hero—a selfless, fearless and inspiring soldier. He is also something of a military genius. In Iraq, as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003-2008, he created an extraordinary military operation.

His command center—a vast open hall resembling the floor of a trading exchange—put long-haired civilian geeks next to wiry commandos, and together they uncovered, analyzed, pooled and acted on information that enabled soldiers to launch successful operations at a moment's notice. They did so in ways that only a few years ago would have required weeks of preparation and rehearsal. He is one of the fathers of victory in Iraq, because his organization dismantled the leadership of al Qaeda there. Few Americans know, or will know, how well he has served this country—and as a shrewd, humane commander, not merely a lethal one.

President Obama should, nonetheless, fire him.” (Elliot A. Cohen, The Wall Street Journal)

“The president, who has been trying to patch together decent relations among an often-feuding Afghanistan team, is going to have to crack the whip. Obama has been holding Afghanistan at arm’s length. With his decision Wednesday on McChrystal, Obama will finally own the war policy.” (David Ignatius, The Washington Post)

“My bet is that Gen. Stanley McChrystal will be gone within a week or so. Defense Secretary Gates canned Admiral Fallon as Central Command chief in the spring of 2007 for less pointed remarks, so he will look like a hypocrite if he does less here in response to McChrystal dissing Obama, Biden, and the White House in a new article in Rolling Stone.” (Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy)

“The trouble with appointing Stanley McChrystal to run the Af-Pak war was always his temperament and his history. He is a driven man, strong-headed, amazingly disciplined, extremely able in a limited fashion – and clearly unused to compromise or getting along with people as powerful as he is. Diplomat he is not.” (Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic)

“This is not the first time that McChrystal has disregarded the chain of command, which is a bureaucratic way of saying that his propensity for speaking out of turn has violated the cardinal principle of civilian control of the military. But it should be the last time. Despite his impressive military achievements, McChrystal must be sacked by President Obama. The principle is a hallowed underpinning of democracy as President Truman recognized when he fired General MacArthur in the midst of the Korean War.” (James Hoge, The Daily Beast)

“If Abraham Lincoln’s experience is any guide, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s fate will be determined by President Obama’s judgment of how his firing would affect the war in Afghanistan.” (Doris Kearns Goodwin, The New York Times)

“The amazing thing about it is there’s no complaints from McChrystal or his staff about the administration on any substantive ground. After all, McChrystal and his allies won the argument within the White House. All the criticisms — of Eikenberry, of Jones, of Holbrooke, of Biden — are actually just immature and arrogant snipes at how annoying Team America (what, apparently, McChrystal’s crew calls itself) finds them. This is not mission-first, to say the least.” (Spencer Ackerman)

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