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Was Obama right to fire Gen McChrystal?

18:27 UK time, Wednesday, 23 June 2010

President Barack Obama has dismissed General Stanley McChrystal as US military commander in Afghanistan, after he criticised administration officials, including the President, during a magazine interview. Do you agree with the decision?

After a thirty minute meeting with the President at the White House, it was announced that General McChrystal would be standing down. His former boss General David Petraeus will replace him as commander of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. Barack Obama said he was sad to lose General McChrystal, but as Commander in Chief he "would not tolerate division" in his team.

Gen McChrystal has apologised for the interview, given to Rolling Stone Magazine, saying "it was a mistake reflecting poor judgement and should never have happened."

What do you think of Obama's actions? Should Gen McChrystal have given that interview? What does this mean for the US mission in Afghanistan?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 9

  • Comment number 1.

    As a General he must obviously have an impressive military history and as someone who's been in the war zone, he must have a good idea what its like and what exactly is going on there. Perhaps the administration would have done well to listen to him rather than just shove him out of the way.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Absolutely. Whilst I cannot abide Obama and have grave misgivings about the war as it's being fought in Afghanistan, this was a simple case of dumbfoundingly poor judgement and gross insubordination pure and simple. There was no other choice that he go.

    I am not sure how other countries militaries work, but that of the United States is 100 per cent subordinate to the civilian government and authority with the President the Commander in Chief. Men in uniform can have personal opinions and political views (and indeed earn that right harder than most) but they cannot articulate them about their superiors in public let alone some magazine article. What was McChrystal thinking? Doesn't he have better things to do? Now I guess he doesn't.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well, we as Americans wanted change when we voted him in, and we're sure as hell getting it now, lol...

  • Comment number 5.

    Oooh yesss!! Obama is looking more and more like what he is - a crazy man driven by his ego and unable to brook any criticism or opinions other than his own. Go on my son and enjoy your one tour of duty as President - or God help us all!!

  • Comment number 6.

    He could not possibly let him continue to command the forces in Afghanistan having all but ridiculed the US administration. In a different time or a different place McChrystal would probably have been either court-marshalled or shot for his comments so he actually got off lightly. No doubt the Taliban see this as the NATO forces being in disarray. That and the increasing casualty rate among NATO forces is no doubt giving considerable to that vile entity.

    The US and its allies gave birth to the Taliban and chose not to act against their vile regime until after 9/11 so I do believe that it is the US' responsibility to deal with a situation creation they created. Anything that prevents a return to power of this medieval group is worth fighting for.

  • Comment number 7.

    So the interview was a mistake and the guy apologised. We cannot really expect major figures on the world stage to live in harfmony like Clegg and Cameron. But what did deserve sacking was the endorsement from Karzai. Who would want to employ someone with a reference from that man? The only organizations dumb enough to do so are British Universities, not the white house.

  • Comment number 8.

    The rearrangement of the deck chairs on the "Afghan Titanic".

    The NATO will leave Afghanistan with their tail between their legs once the number of NATO troops killed becomes unacceptable to the dumbos who run the US and UK - this was a War that the UK joined because the UK elite thought it was a good idea.

    Remember Blair and John Reid who got us into this War - they are minting it with directorships and consultancies. Meanwhile, the NATO troops and Afghan people die unnecessarily.

  • Comment number 9.

    Who knows better what is right or wrong. It may have been a mistake of the generals yo speak out but if Obama can't take advice and critcism he is in the wrong job.

  • Comment number 10.

    This action could be seen one of two ways, either as a sign of strong and resolute leadership or it is the action of a man out of his depth and struggling to cope with the high office he holds.
    I liked Obama, however his recent anti British stance over BP and this move against a man who is clearly doing a great job, in hugely difficult circumstances, suggest to me that this is a President who is quick to anger and who has lost both his judgment and a sense of perspective.
    The BP issue raised enormous concerns that he will jump on any passing bandwagon in order to pander to the worst kind of American xenophobia, that he has never mentioned the numerous American companies who contributed to the disaster demonstrates clearly that he cares little about the disaster and more about the political impact on him. It is interesting that there has been no anger or complaints about US oil firms winning in the courts and over turning his ban on deep sea drilling in the courts.
    Now we have a General who has clearly done a brilliant job in Afghanistan, being removed because of comments in a magazine. We are told the President was angry with him, well he seems to get angry a lot and I am not sure I want someone in the Oval office who is bad tempered. He does after all have his finger on the nuclear button. Moreover when will he get angry about the war, get angry about the loss of life, get angry about the cost for the Afghan as well as the American people?
    I would rather see this than the truculent and almost childlike behaviour I am witnessing now.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Americans do not favor war in Afghanistan. The occupation is financially-expensive and errors caused massacres of innocent villagers. It doesn't matter if Stan or Dave leads there. NATO should forge peace agreements with the Taliban/al Qada umbrella org and then leave.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Was Obama right to fire Gen McChrystal?"

    Something, the Americans are most qualified to answer, of course. However it does show the delicate balance between political and military strategy in the current conflict in Afghanistan (and Iraq).

    WWII and the Vietnam wars were conducted differently, it seems with less political considerations as is the case nowadays, such as limiting civilian casualties.

    Yes, the General exercised poor judgment in the way he expressed his dissent, but poor political judgment is not the same as poor military judgment. It seems a bit harsh to punish him for the things outside his job description, and to ignore, in this instance, his personal military capabilities.

  • Comment number 14.

    The last bell for Obama and Afghanistan .a fools errand with no propect of success. A stabile ,uncorrupt state built by foreigners who know nothing of the country ,resented by the populace who see only devastation and death is a delusion.American hubris in the face of history ,Soviets and British failure.McChrystal has paid a heavy price for trying to lead a doomed effort and for speaking, indiscretly, .Obama 's Hobson's choice begins his descent into oblivion.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can we get this straight, please?
    Was he SACKED or did he RESIGN, as he said?
    And, Obama said he accepted his resignation?

  • Comment number 16.

    You have to be careful what you say, & who you say it to...especially when it's the truth.

  • Comment number 17.

    The firing of Gen. McChrystal is right. No reasonable civilian authority anywhere in the world would tolerate any form of insubordination from the army or else such a government would be creating a breeding ground for a military take over of the country as it happens in the developing nations. No General is indispensible. Well done Obama! This is America and not Taliban country.

  • Comment number 18.

    No, the man is a decorated seving soldier.He has a right to an opinion and I would say if he's risking life and limb every day at the behest of his country,then he has a perfect right to express his opinions.Has anyone thought he might just be correct?

  • Comment number 19.

    The point is...was it fair criticism. Politicians create wars and then expect their forces to do with it but interfer when they have no knowledge at all how the military planning works. Would a midwife tell a brain surgeon how to operate

  • Comment number 20.

    I see a link between the HYS question about criticising your leader. Did the general go through the right channels before putting his foot in his mouth?

  • Comment number 21.

    It sounds like Obama did exactly what the General wanted him to do. Unless he has a major drug problem, he had to have known that saying those things would get him in trouble. He probably figured he couldn't take working for idiots anymore, and would rather be let go. Best of luck on the Republican election trail, General.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes Obama was right to fire this man. Not only was the man unprofessional, he obviously couldn't keep his mouth shut so he was a security risk. I think this is yet another example of how right-wing biased the armed forces are in the US. I can never imagine anyone in the armed forces speaking out against a Republican President.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sacking military chiefs for anything other than military incompetence during a war shows how far away from danger civilian politicians really are. If this guy is as competent and as popular with the US military as I'm led to believe, more fool the Obama adminstration. If he's said it like it is, then it also shows the administration is more bothered about the sensitivities of a few desk jockeys than winning the war.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    A general quesitoning the civilian government that openly in the form of an interview flys in the face of civilian control of the military. It's bad enough that Corporatism already rules this country in place of Democracy. The last thing we need is a military with vested corporate interests crtiticizing the civilian government.

  • Comment number 26.

    Most Generals are there to lead men into battle they have to inspire their men and lead them well. The Rolling Stone magazine article was misjudged but whether it demanded sacking is a matter for the President.
    I would have dressed him down and made him apologise in public to those he offended - but not sacked him.

    Forgiveness is a valuable asset when you do not want to make too many enemies before an election! Forgiveness hurts the offender more than a sacking - NB Mr President!

  • Comment number 27.

    It was right on two counts:


    Firstly, he did not criticize the Obama administration he made fun of it - criticism if its valid is one thing, outright disrespect is another thing altogether

    Secondly, the current strategy in Afghanistan is of the Generals' making, and it is starting to go very badly wrong - his timing was (tragically for him) perfect

  • Comment number 28.

    Was Obama right to fire Gen McChrystal?
    No.
    What's the matter with the eloquent President Barack Obama? Could he not think his way out of this one, speak his way out of it?
    After a thirty minute meeting with the President at the White House, President Obama couldn't even announce the decision personally, couldn't even call a spade a spade, and say that General McChrystal was being removed from his position.
    This is a major set-back for the NATO-led Afghanistan Mission.
    If the Commander in Chief cannit "tolerate division", does that mean that he wants a yes-men?
    What do you think of Obama's actions?
    Arrogant, petulent, judgemental of conditions that he cannot even understand.
    Should Gen McChrystal have given that interview?
    No, but in a war-zone, things happen, frustration builds.


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  • Comment number 29.

    The general did what many leaders of the past have done. He saw our Afghanistan situation was being made impossible by the politicians in the White House putting him in an impossible situation. His troups were suffering, and speaking up is all he could do. The lessons of Vietnam have apparently been forgotten by our arrogant bunch in the White House. Of course the real problem was started by George W. Bush in putting us in this unwinnable mess.

  • Comment number 30.

    Obama has just lost my vote if he runs for president in the next election. McChrystal has been working his tail off and has been one of the best American generals in history. He, and the troops, are fully aware that this is an unwinnable war (like Vietnam). McChrystal has my utmost respect, and the Obama administration did nothing more than sweep him to the side instead of facing facts.

  • Comment number 31.

    McChrystal is an amazing military hero in an unwinnable war. Perhaps, Obama should learn to take some criticisms.

  • Comment number 32.

    I hope this was a "dishonorable discharge" and I hope he loses his pension like any other member of the armed services would do 1

  • Comment number 33.

    I think our POTUS inhaled too much of that BP oil. WE NEED A LEADER!!!!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    A four-star General fired by a civilian President.

    It may have been the right thing to do, or it may not.

    Either way, Americans and people of other democracies just don't know how lucky they are to have the generals they have - both in terms of politics and loyalty.

    They only need to see the military dictators of Burma and their counterparts worldwide to thank their lucky stars - brutal, greedy and repressive to the very people they pledged to protect.

    Never lose sight of the forest for the trees, and ignore your blessings.

  • Comment number 35.

    Yes..The only servicemen more arrogant than fighter pilots....were the generals I met while in the service. He has nothing to worry about though...when he retires he'll make millions working for the defense contractors.

  • Comment number 36.

    When any Military or Intelligence man disrespected President Bush they were treated as a hero by the Leftist news media. Now when a General critisizes Obama he is a dirty rotten scoundral who deserves to go.
    Our Troops themselves are totally disrespected by the Leftist news media who do not even bother to cover their deaths even when 8 die in a single day as happened several weeks ago.
    Hollywood makes no movies to show their bravery or dedication.
    They are forgotten.
    Obama was told by Bush and others not to set a withdrawal date but the Harvard educated idiot refused that advise and now he is in a no win position in Afghanistan which changing generals will not help.
    The war in Afghanistan is now about saving the Obama Presidency and has little to do with Afghanistan our military or yours.

  • Comment number 37.

    To ignore the fact that your boss is an inexperienced child in warfare, without the slightest clue what is really going on, and watch your soldiers die in the dirt for nothing, wouldn't THAT be treasonous? Wouldn't THAT be an act of war against the US? That the plan is a JOKE and men are DYING because OBAMA HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE'S DOING?

    To NOT speak up and say that is the REAL treason.
    That, and Obama's current anti-US policy of inexperience and arrogance.

  • Comment number 38.

    The General was not "sacked", he offered his resignation and the President accepted. In his address to the country he also gave the general the credit he deserved. I thought it was handled well.

  • Comment number 39.

    It was shocking to learn what General Stanley McChrystal has said in the interview with the magazine.

    Though it won't make any difference on US policy in Afghanistan but one can observe that how much General Stanley McChrystal was irritated from the ongoing and unending war in Afghanistan.

    It is natural that fighting unending wars create resentment among different ranks and quarters.

    If some journalists interview the US soldiers who were engaged in the Vietnam War, they will also find the same resentment among the living retired soldiers.

    US should find ways and means to devise a strategy how to achieve peace in Afghanistan as quickly as possible, as there may be more soldiers who may be having same resentment as of relieved top commander General Stanley McChrystal.

  • Comment number 40.

    Yes General McChrystal could have voiced his opinion in a better way but I would venture a bet that he did try to talk to these "clowns" in the administration and it probably did fall on deaf ears. Everything else this administration has done and proposed clearly shows that there is one way of thinking Obama's way and that is it. I think the General had to do what he did. I received an advance copy of the article like a lot of other people and read most of it this morning. It's not that bad and it's things we all need to know. The promised "Transparency" in this administration doesn't exist. I think General McChrystal should have gotten reprimanded but not fired, he has done too good of a job over there for America Firing him was the wrong thing to do and blow up in Obama's face and all of ours sorry to say.

    Obama is the one who needs to be FIRED!

  • Comment number 41.

    The General deserves a Medal for "Speaking Truth to Power" and isn't Desent the highest form of patriotism? Obama is a fraud as Commander in Chief.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Although I'm in complete agreement that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan, Menedemus' comment: "Sorry chum, you're on your own - fight your own bloody battles!" is very funny in light of WW1 and WW2. Had it not been for us Yanks, our dear English brothers and sisters would be goose stepping, eating pork schnitzel and speaking German.

  • Comment number 44.

    Absolutely. NO ONE is indispensable in the military and that includes McChrystal. Gen Petraeus will pick up the reins and possibly do an even better job, but be a loyal, team player which Gen McChrystal and his minions obviously were not. I'm sure his will not be the only head to roll. Anyone who is criticizing the President about this is obvious got a head full of rocks, not brains, and has absolutely no idea of what team play is about.

  • Comment number 45.

    As a career officer in the United States Military General McChrystal should know his total public disrespect to his Commander-in-Chief had but one outcome. President Obama may not be the United States most outstanding president but, as long as he holds that office, he is due, especially from the military, the respect that it deserves. President Obama, in this case, is to be saluted for insisting that the dignity due his office be upheld.

  • Comment number 46.

    Perhaps Obama should have spent some more time trying to determine why the General thinks his administration are not performing adequately in their support for the campaign in Afghanistan before summarily dismissing the man. He would do well to listen to criticism which is based on first hand knowledge rather than have it come back to bite him in the future.

  • Comment number 47.

    Given the gravity of the military situation in Afghanistan, it would have been remiss to keep someone at the helm whose committment could be questioned by the troops firstly and then the wider society secondarily. There was really no other progressive option for the administration than to accept his resignation.

  • Comment number 48.

    Yes, Obama was right to fire him because it is part of the General's job to support the administration and its officials. That being said I think everything that the General said in that Rolling Stones article was true. I hope now that he has been dismissed he'll go on every news show out there and tell us how the war is really going.

  • Comment number 49.

    While the US plays politics our soldiers die.

    The American President has no regard for Britain so let him fight his own wars.

  • Comment number 50.

    In the medieval messengers with bad news were executed, today they are fired. The future will prove who was right and who was wrong.

  • Comment number 51.

    Nice to see the the myth of 'We saved your ass in WW2' (43) is alive and well in the good old USA. What you really mean is the USSR saved all our asses in WW2.

  • Comment number 52.

    I don't think that too many commenting here have actually served in the military. I am retired Army, and I can tell you that everybody from day one knows you don't just say whatever you want to whomever. A general officer knows this--not sure why he slipped up (Brer rabbit effect?). I would have kept him on, but there is ample precedent in US history, recent and remote, to relieve a person of command after such an incident. I feel that equally to blame is the Rolling Stone journalist and RS who is publishing the inflammatory tabloid-like article. What purpose did it serve in bringing a good man down--other than to sell magazines? Where was all this journalistic acumen during the run up to the Iraq War, possibly the biggest mistake in foreign policy in US history? Afghanistan is bigger problem now because the US wrongly attacked Iraq and diverted attention, resources, troops to that for years.

  • Comment number 53.

    While many might agree with General McChrystal's views, the way the message was put out was absolutely terrible. As a serving officer, he's entitled to his own opinions and politics but he is under an obligation to keep and express those opinions only in private given the nature of his profession.

    War is an extension of diplomacy and the military exists to be subservient to the State. Ultimately whether intentionally or not, he tried to undermine civilian authority and that is a very slippery slope indeed. No matter how agreeable he or his opinions are-his actions simply cannot stand.

  • Comment number 54.

    Got to enjoy the American Freedom of Speech! Being an ex-pat now living in the USA, I'm really scared of what Obama is doing to this country!

  • Comment number 55.

    According to the U.S Uniform Code of Military Justice it's an offense to publicly make disparaging remarks about your leadership. Had a subordinate given an interview about McChrystal, he'd have been court-martialed. Truman dumped MacArthur for similar reasons. "Give 'em hell, Barry!"

  • Comment number 56.

    Yes, he was correct to ask for his resignation. Failure to do so would have meant that the general would be court-martialed.

    According to article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, this is an offense that requires a court martial:


    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

  • Comment number 57.

    43. At 9:08pm on 23 Jun 2010, Bogotabye wrote:
    "Although I'm in complete agreement that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan, Menedemus' comment: "Sorry chum, you're on your own - fight your own bloody battles!" is very funny in light of WW1 and WW2. Had it not been for us Yanks, our dear English brothers and sisters would be goose stepping, eating pork schnitzel and speaking German."

    Thanks for ya help,you where only two years late and charged us extortionate amounts money for your service.

    That was then,Afghanistan is now,unless we get a result out there we are facing Swat Valley situation in Britain.

    Thanks to are "liberal" leaders allowing Britain to become a terrorist safe haven we will soon have "Talibanisation" in places such as Bradford,Birmingham and Luton.

  • Comment number 58.

    Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, is part of the actual war on terrorism. It is rather disheartening how people quickly forget that Al-Qaeda's roots are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a very much "stop them overseas or fight them at home" kind of a deal. UK, US and rest of NATO is in the same boat. If Afghanistan becomes another failed state like it used to be, that failure will spill over the border once more.

    As for the General, the President is his boss. If any employee makes fun of their boss in public, they'll get fired. It's that simple. If the general had problems, he should have talked with his boss about it and resolve them.

  • Comment number 59.

    General McChrystal belongs to the looney right. they want to wipe everyone standing in their way. I say well done to the President for having the courage to fire the guy.

  • Comment number 60.

    What General McChrystal stated in a magazine interview was a direct violation of the U.S.A.'s Uniform Code of Military Justice. By the UCMJ General McChrystal should have faced a court-martial for his comments.

    A copy of the UCMJ can be found at: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ucmj.htm

    Subchapter X Section 888 Art 88 states:

    888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS

    Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

  • Comment number 61.

    McChrystal was commander of 'Team America in Afghanistan' here he was a god like figure ,unfortunately he forgot that he had a commander in chief, President Obama.

    Obama had no choice but to accept his resignation, however had he not resigned would he have sacked him ,
    same practical outcome, but otherwise a huge difference.

    Clearly there is confusion as to the purpose of the crusade in Afghanistan.

    'Bush ' the cowboy & Blair the 'poodle ' and their ' war on terror ' , has actually made the world far less safe.
    The situation in Afghanistan is desperate, despite all the resources and technology there is little impact on the ground.
    All this to support a corrupt and despotic leader/government.

    Various coalition countries have announced their intent to leave the Afghanistan theatre ASAP.
    Why ?
    It is a no win situation, top guys don't want to admit this
    Protecting national security..... the adventure has made it significantly worse.

    The McChrystal incidence is a major own goal and no doubt will be a moral boost for the insurgents/Taliban,
    their strategy of sitting and waiting it out is working..... Bush , Blair et al have come and gone McChrystal is another on the list
    and certainly not the last.

    The tragedy is the loss of service personal and the consequence it has on the families left behind.
    No doubt these families will ask why .....
    to prop up a corrupt government, to radicalise more people, to make the issue of national security worse etc.etc.
    Meanwhile Bush & Blair are enjoying life, Blair is making a tremendous fortune & the irony is he is a 'Peace Envoy'.

    Unfortunately more service and other lives will be lost in this hopeless cause, 'the suits' will shed a tear but continue to enjoy life.

    It's only a matter of time before we leave Afghanistan effectively handing it back to the Taliban...the McChrystal issue
    would not change this inevitable outcome.

    £20 billion plus cost to uk alone
    301 dead uk alone
    numerous maimed /wounded
    physiological damage ... a waiting time bomb
    collateral damage £ ???

    The leaders have done a fine job !!


    McChrystal should have left the militaryfirst , then he could have lambasted anybody if he so wished.

    The various former Chiefs of staff (uk )did this very effectivly ,..
    as did Christopher Meyer .. it's ok to do it when there is no master hence no fear of repercussions
    only question is were they thinking on similar way whilst being slaves ?
    but what of integrity ?

  • Comment number 62.

    Maybe the President should have had them switch jobs ie Rahm Emanuel was an experienced soldier in the Israeli Army and could take over the Generals position . The general could have a rest as White House chief of staff.
    Joe Biden could go with Rahm as his Aide De Camp ?

    This war is a fools errand and two more perfect fools would be hard to find.

  • Comment number 63.

    I would think that the General has probably got a better finger on the pulse than Obama in every respect, but he has forgotten the cardinal US rule.... we sink or we swim...... there are no individual opinions.

  • Comment number 64.

    Having to can McChrystal, the architect of our current efforts, in the middle of said efforts, is a sad debacle. However, the chain of command is what it is. Generals have an obligation to show deference publicly. Obama didn't have much choice. To be fair though, there are Bush detractors who probably saw Zinni et al. as heroes for disputing Bush admin decisions publicly, yet want McChrystal's hide in this case. What general in charge of war-fighting hasn't been frustrated by Presidential incremental-ism, or by in-fighting by administration lower level politicians with their own disagreements?

    Plenty of blame to go around. Obama made a call to give McChrystal the lead, then didn't muzzle his team. Bad leadership. McChrystal on the other hand had a right to gripe in close quarters, but should have kept his mouth shut in interviews. And his staff??? For crying out loud...talking to Rolling Stone??? Stupidity all around. Let's hope our troops don't pay the price!

  • Comment number 65.

    At 9:37pm on 23 Jun 2010, Willy McMac wrote:
    "stop them overseas or fight them at home"

    There is another alternative of course.... just get out of their country......

  • Comment number 66.

    Poor old Obama is losing the plot I am afraid. Finally he is finding that talk is cheap and actually making the decisions is tougher than it seems.

    The UK should get out of Afghanistan asap and leave the Americans to fight another pointless war. They obviously have internal splits and why should we get involved. Perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize winner (joke) should focus on sorting out the Mid East rather than fire any potential criticism.

  • Comment number 67.

    The General should send his CV to FOX.

  • Comment number 68.

    After reading a page full of anti-Obama vitriol, 99% of it nonsense, I think I'd like to add my 2 cents wort:

    McChrystal left President Obama little choice. Loose lips sink ships and generals. What the good general forgot is that a counterintelligence drive in an occupied country is a military and political job. Being a bada$$ military man, as the article describes, may appeal to the rubes and a public fed on second-rate war movies, but in reality it's very destructive. It's the kind of attitude that suggests to the rank and file as well as the Afghan counterparts, that the US government -- the administration -- is not worthy of respect. And for the moment, the administration has not done anything concrete to not deserve respect. Whether the Tea Baggers on this site like it or not, Obama has been steering the country rather well considering the tough challenges... Remember that the previous president, Bush Junior, got a country with a healthy economy and at peace. He left a complete mess and two running wars, one of which is strictly illegal and was started on trumped up information.

    Go ahead, make fun of him. But he is an intelligent, thought-out type of person. In the same position, most of the opposition in the USA would be hitting the bottle. Look at Bush: he went into Hollywood mode whenever times got rough.

    So: Excellent choice, Obama. McChrystal goes, Petraeus comes in.... now let us hear the rightwingers holler....

  • Comment number 69.

    At 9:08pm on 23 Jun 2010, Bogotabye wrote:Although I'm in complete agreement that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan, Menedemus' comment: "Sorry chum, you're on your own - fight your own bloody battles!" is very funny in light of WW1 and WW2. Had it not been for us Yanks, our dear English brothers and sisters would be goose stepping, eating pork schnitzel and speaking German.

    Perhaps you need to read or rewrite history before you shoot from the lip...The battle for Britain was over before you even entered WWII..

    As for the subject..Obama is a fool who thinks he knows more than the soldier on the ground. Terrorists will flood into Afghanistan as soon as the allied troops leave. From there they will spread like a cancer through the western world, fuelled by drugs money given to them by....THE AMERICANS.

  • Comment number 70.

    This is a perfect example of bad judgment on the Gen's part.
    IF he doesn't know good judgment in an interview, how can one trust him in the field?
    Obama was correct in replacing him.

  • Comment number 71.

    Although I'm in complete agreement that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan, Menedemus' comment: "Sorry chum, you're on your own - fight your own bloody battles!" is very funny in light of WW1 and WW2. Had it not been for us Yanks, our dear English brothers and sisters would be goose stepping, eating pork schnitzel and speaking German.

    Sounds like the average red-neck, no-brain, no passport comment.

  • Comment number 72.

    No, McChrystal should not have been fired. He was insubordinate to his Commander-in-Chief during a time of war. He should have been shot.

  • Comment number 73.

    The chain of command must be respected, and for better or for worse, Obama is at the top of that chain. General McChrystal had to know what was coming.

    On the other hand, it's unbelievable that Obama is so out of touch with his top general that Rolling Stone magazine (of all publications) broke the story and aired McChrystal's grievances about his commander's approach to the war. Someone should tell Obama and his inner circle that community organizers and lawyers don't make good soldiers or counterinsurgency strategists.

  • Comment number 74.


    It is amusing when one considers that Petraeus no doubt
    holds the same view of the politicians as McChrystal, he just
    has enough sense to keep his mouth shut. It's all politics at
    the top !!! I wholeheartedly agree with post #16 above.

  • Comment number 75.

    When you are in the military chain of command, there is absolutely no way you can behave as McCrystal did, he had to go.

    That does not mean what McCrystals team were saying was not true and something every politician has to be aware of when governments invoke military action. Obama has a lot to answer for here, but not in sacking McCrystal.

  • Comment number 76.

    When is the last time we won a war???? It was just barely in my lifetime.

    We get in these "conflicts" or whatever the politicians want to call them then they get cold feet.

    We train these people to do our dirty work then we won't listen to them!!!

    I also used to think that we had freedom of speech. I'm sure his feelings were well known in the chain-of-command.

    We send these brave well trained men to do a job then we blindfold them and tie their hands.

    Our "leader" won't even listen to the people on healthcare. Why should he get upset about the general's comments.

    I GIVE UP.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    Even though I am a right of center guy, and I probably agree with most of what McChrystal said, I do believe firing him was absolutely essential.

    He violated two standards

    1) He violated the long standing American tradition of the military avoiding any hint of public political activity. This is essential to a functional democracy and he has been dancing right up to the line on this for quite a while. I don't see how is actions and words can be construed as anything but political.

    2) He violated the Chain of Command. McChrystal wouldn't allow a junior officer to make diparaging comments of a more senior officer, it is bad for morale, discipline, and operational readiness. There is no difference there than there is between a President and a General.

    Yes, this will make things far more difficult in the short term, but is essential for maintaining the standards in the long term.

  • Comment number 79.

    Unfortunately, the phrase that comes to mind is: Commanders in the US military have a job to preserve democracy..... not practice it.

    The Commander in Chief sets the agenda and the Generals, and every soldier down to buck-private, are employed to carry out those goals.

    General McChrystal is an educated, disciplined, experienced, articulate, and humane officer for whom I have the greatest respect.

    While the BBC asks if it was right for the President to fire him, I would remind all that the General tendered his letter of resignation prior to his arrival in Washington.

    The president did not fire the General. He accepted his resignation and assigned another General to take his place.

    General McChrystal has my absolute support. It is my hope that he enjoys many years of internal peace knowing that he served his country with pride, dignity, integrity and courage.

  • Comment number 80.

    43. At 9:08pm on 23 Jun 2010, Bogotabye wrote:

    "Although I'm in complete agreement that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan, Menedemus' comment: "Sorry chum, you're on your own - fight your own bloody battles!" is very funny in light of WW1 and WW2. Had it not been for us Yanks, our dear English brothers and sisters would be goose stepping, eating pork schnitzel and speaking German."

    70 years on and do I really think that America would get off its backside and send it's troops over to invade Europe to preserve democracy ... only if there was something in it for the Americans.

    Oh, but wait, of course 70 years ago there was something in it for the Americans - they waited 2 years and got involved AFTER the Battle of El Alemein and Stalingrad then, having got to the war late, they imposed the Marshall Plane on Europe which required Europeans to buy american product to help with the reconstruction.

    Oh and thanks for the Lend-Lease - nothing is ever for free from America!

    The trouble is that American think they are God's chosen and won't let anyone else have the bomb even though they are the only nation to have used that weapon. The Yanks go fighting wars and lose them just like Vietnam and Iraq and have to ask the Brits and other nations to sacrifice their young soldiers lives just to keep the US Flag flying high.

    I say stuff the Yanks.

    Gen. McChrystal was absolutely right to pour scorn on the US Government as they are the blind leading the blind and haven't got a clue where they are taking Afganistan.

    The United Kingdom should leave the Yanks to it as the Afghan War is a dog's dinner and being part of the stupidity means we are taking a share of the blame for the ineptitude of the Yanks and being as stupid as the Yanks to remain involved.

  • Comment number 81.

    Obviously the Commander-in Chief should be respected, Gen. Mackrystal made many glaring mistakes, insubordination, no respect for the armed forces accountable to the civilian administration etc. By firing the General the rest of the high ranking officers will just play the game as the road map says, they will wait for decisions to be made in Washington DC for issues and incidences on Kabul streets, they may withhold information that is critical of the administration's understanding of the events in Afghanistan, which in turn could compromise the security and safety of the troops fighting the insurgency. Obama had NO choice to retain Mackrystal and yet maintain good working relationship with the White House, somehow too many people's weaknesses were exposed.

  • Comment number 82.

    The fact is the politicians are running the show and constantly get it wrong.
    I accept that is democracy at work. So, I accept that at times democracy sucks!
    As usual it takes a military leader to let it slip he disagrees with the way it is being run and he's out of a job.
    But the potiticians oversaw the crisis, but you just can't get rid of them can you?

  • Comment number 83.

    I see several misinformed comments from my fellow Americans regarding Obama's accepting McChrystal's resignation. The current policy in Afghanistan is Petraeus' & McChrystal's own strategy of 'surging' troops to counter the Taliban. The Obama administration favored having far fewer troops in Afghanistan and relying more on the Afghans to work things out. However, the conservatives in the US do not want to 'lose' the military war in Afghanistan. They equate the Taliban with Al Qaeda and any such loss would be to surrender to al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Obama administration deferred to the Pentagon's strategy so as not to be charged with being 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' by the political opposition. Obama’s only stipulation was to put a time limit (next year) on the surge strategy, so that the strategic course could be changed if the surge produced no results. It’s seemed obvious for some time that the problems of Afghanistan are not military and more troops will never ‘fix’ things. Of course, as it’s becoming obvious that the surge will not succeed by next year, conservatives are now talking about sending more troops and using another 10 years. It has been obvious for years that the problems of Afghanistan are not military and more troops will never ‘fix’ things. For McChrystal to disparage the politicians who allowed him to pursue his chosen strategy in Afghanistan over their better judgment is both petty & insubordinate. Goodbye to McChrystal. Don't let the door hit your backside on the way out!

  • Comment number 84.

    I had thought of some very fine comments to post here concerning the military and the "government"
    However it has all been said, for and against both have reason.

    .

  • Comment number 85.

    President Obama was very much justified in his duties of firing General McChrystal ....No, Gen. McChrystal should not have provided this interview due to the facts of the case; Although, I have yet read the Rolling Stone article....

    (d)

  • Comment number 86.

    At least someone had the guts to tell the whitehouse willey nilleys the truth, shame that the only answer they an come up with is to force him to resign.

  • Comment number 87.

    Gen McChrystal was a stong bridge between the US Government and the Afghanistan people that is a foundation to win the war against the Taliban. On the other hand his open criticism of the US leader ship because of frustration is unacceptable to Military Chain of Command. The President is right in removing the General but it is only half way becuse those who have contributed to the causes for the issue are still intact.

  • Comment number 88.

    " It was a mistake " Oh yes? he can't surely be stupid enough to expect anyone to believe that. If the man can't keep his private opinions to himself then he is not fit for the job. The president is the ultimate power, any general who refuses to accept this should not be in command. The military do not run the country. He knew perfectly well what he was doing and a misjudgement of this magnitude should should result in dismissal

  • Comment number 89.

    The american millitary are a rather astute political bunch so it comes as no suprise that when Stan the man shouts his mush off he gets the sack. It was a very bad error of judgement on his part and on the part of his staff, who are probably as I write this, being posted to some very out of the way places so that they can learn the error of their ways.

  • Comment number 90.

    what is it everyone rushing to the press? if the general had issues hr could have privately seen the president. the armed forces report to the civilan government, not the othe way round.

    terry shooting off to the press...people are not educated that is the problem, the are unable to understand the wider implications of going to the press

  • Comment number 91.

    It is not a matter of 'right' or 'wrong', is it? Any boss would be upset. Obama is a boss. We are all controlled by emotions at some point. Obama has a right to be upset, and even if he didn't - it's, yes, an emotion. It's as simple as that.

    Therefore, Obama did nothing wrong. General McChrystal however, was very foolish (at best) to talk to a magazine about his boss and his higher ups (in a negative way). Who in their right mind would do that? And he was at the top in Afghanistan? Scary.

    And to those who think Obama is wrong, I give you a challenge: go insult your companies president or someone way up in the chain in your company. Bet you'd see similar happening to you, wouldn't you?

  • Comment number 92.

    Yes, Obama was right to relieve McChrystal of his duties as his actions amounted to insubordination.

    But, Obama has shown that he is no leader. There should have been a brief statement that he had had a meeting with McChrystal and that he had relieved him of his duties. There was no need to go into details. The Taleban must be laughing at the incompetence of the American Leadership!

  • Comment number 93.

    " No reasonable civilian authority anywhere in the world would tolerate any form of insubordination from the army"

    'Insubordination' is usually a fancy word used to describe someone having the sheer audacity to tell a truth that hasn't been vetted by a superior.
    Leaders who can't take criticism and are keen to 'shoot the messenger' soon end up only being told what they want to hear - a situation that always ends in disaster.

  • Comment number 94.

    he should have resigned right after the interview to prove his point. generals get frustrated when given many restrictions that make their mission almost impossible to accomplish. polititions like obama know nothing about combat and are unfit to make unreasonable demands like protecting civilian lives at all cost even if many more of our soldiers are killed or injured. obama and the liberal left should keep their mouths shut unless they themselves want to join the battlefield war is hell, war is dirty, the taliban and al queda certainly prove that. don't place any restrictions on our soldiers and tell the generals to get the job done and THE JOB WILL GET DONE.

  • Comment number 95.

    as an opinion; politicians are on about power. When a specialist gives them advice which they do not like for political or personal reasons, they remove the source of the problem. This is a resolution for them. However, events such as the War in Viet Nam, cyclical recessions and so on appear not to make any impression upon them as lessons in history which can then be integrated into future decision making processes. Removing a commanding general does not stop the war. It does provide an opportunity for the enemy to act politically.

    If, as lord of the manor, you loose the dogs of war, make sure that you have a master of the hounds set to achieve your goal in the ways that the environment requires, both in the present and in the (unattainable and unreadable) future. For that, politicians will need to study and think!

  • Comment number 96.

    obamas actions prove what a small minded man he is , the question here is not whither the general has upset some paper pushers but whither the general is correct and judging by the white house reaction you would have to assume the general was correct

  • Comment number 97.

    There should not have been an interview,any concerns that General McChrystal had should have been raised with his immediate superior only and any subsequent response would have been within the normal channels through the chain of command.Any suggestion that this one incident should affect the mission in Afghanistan is ridiculous but actually possible due to the media interest in "off centre" stories with the thematic background of the war.Obama therefore did not have much choice because the general left him none,speaking so frankly about other serving personnel to any media without having sorted the problems in-house,and on top of that being disparaging in his remarks about serving personnel is probably as much of an offence in the US forces as in the British Army and dismissal is not the worst that could happen to a serving soldier in the British Army who was guilty of the same irresponsible behaviour. War is hell,and the nature of the discipline needed to maintain morale and function as a team that does its job with the ever-present knowledge of the very real dangers of coming home in a bag is mostly unfathomable to civilians .You cannot be in charge of that many young men putting their lives in your hands and create division by challenging other personnel in the media instead of through the proper channels.If the general has intended this to be his swansong he has succeeded.

  • Comment number 98.

    President Obama doesn't seem to much care for the UK and even less for his subordinates. General Stanley McCrystal obviously had resaon to say what he said even though he has retracted it 'as a mistake'. We will NEVER win in Afghanistan (all those who have been there will understand why) We should get out forthwith and save our brave service personnel from the ultimate sacriface they make on a daily basis.

    We need to deport anyone who has been identified by our (very capable) intelligence services and Police as suspicious or a possible threat. (why do we need to prove this in court). Human rights should work both ways but of course doesn't?!!

    Pakistan is a festering Taliban training ground (see the recent New York Car Bomb - I was in Times Square an hour before the vehicle was identified) and do this country or the west no favours. Our cultures are so far apart, it is almost unbelievable. Muslims want/work towards forcing us to conform to their lifestyle and will stop at nothing to get their way. We need to get out of Afganistan because by the very nature/geography of the country we can NEVER be in a win situation.

    I was in Aden when we pulled out and just take a look at that area now. Today you would NEVER have known British Troops had ever been there. You will NEVER hear of all the service personnel who lost their lives or of all the trials and criticism of us at the time. Can anyone in authority tell me what was all that was for?? We are no longer a world power so why can't we just accept it?

    The world has been discovered; we can no longer reinvent the wheel! There are alot of very bright capable indigenous people in this country. WHY CAN'T WE JUST ENJOY THEM. THEIR EFFORTS AND REWARDS THEY GIVE CAN GIVE US?

    NO In my humble opinion Obama was wrong to sack the general!

  • Comment number 99.

    Clearly Obama had no choice but to sack him. In Western democracies, generals can't go around publicly ridiculing their political masters and General McChrystal must have known what the outcome of this was going to be, so we can only assume that he had had enough and wanted to be fired, with the pleasure of having made his views known at the same time.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think the decision was very foolish and done in anger by a president and party that can't stand to be questioned. Many other presidents in history with actual military records and service unlike Obama have had a general disagree with them openly. They didn't fire them, start a PR campaign against them, or rally America to hate them! They took a step back breathed and then told the general what they thought. The past presidents never threw childlike fits and then involved all of the government in smacking around one man. Forcing him to resign or have a career ruined because of the pride of a foolish president.

    We have one of the most loyal military's in the world! They care greatly for the country and serve with pride. Marching off at a whim for a civilian commander often with not a lick of real experience like Obama to fight for us. They deal with a constant changing of leadership even during major wars, they take orders from a moronic government that never lets them commit. Vietnam and Korea are examples of politician run wars and not military run wars. Peeps back home called more shots in Vietnam then any general and they refused to fully commit in Korea thanks to peeps back home as well in office. Now they are dealing with it again and once again issues are happening.

    The whole thing is sad. Someone making real progress and actually liked by the government where he is fighting and Obama along with his party ruin his life over one article and risk the current plans that deal with thousands of lives going on.

    Just amazing and not in a good way.

 

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