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See Also: US media on McChrystal Rolling Stone remarks

Host | 16:41 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

General Stanley McChrystal, the top US military officer in Afghanistan, has been summoned to Washington to account for critical remarks he and aides made about the president and other Obama administration officials according to a Rolling Stone magazine article. Here is some of the US media reaction:

Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post says he had always thought rumours of a rift between the general and the president were wide of the mark, but now had to admit he might have been wrong.

"My instincts tell me that we're about to endure a fancy bit of White House shame-pageantry: McChrystal comes hat in hand, he and the President have a heart-to-heart, and in the end, everyone gets back to work."

Jenn Kepka, in her Saturn Smith blog on Open Salon, cannot see what the fuss is about, instead focusing on the general's record in Afghanistan.

Are there really still presidents (and vice presidents) who believe they are loved and feared completely on the fields of war? Are there really that many diplomats in Washington who have such fragile feelings that they must vent their displeasure in person, removing a general from the theater of war, to feel their honor has been adequately satisfied?

At the liberal firedoglake blog, national security writer Spencer Ackerman says that President Obama has an opportunity to sack General McChrystal, but probably won't:

"It'll be hard to fire McChrystal without ripping the entire Afghanistan strategy up, and I've gotten no indication from the White House that it's interested in doing that. On the other hand, if senior administration officials are and I just haven't picked up on it, McChrystal just gave them their biggest opportunity."

In the conservative journal National Review's The Corner blog, Rich Lowry writes President Barack Obama has a case for firing General McChrystal, but adds:

"The most important consideration should be what's best for the war. The commander-in-chief must have confidence in his field commander. But if the Obama-McChrystal relationship can be saved, obviously the least disruptive option is for McChrystal to stay."

The New York Times lays out what may well be the conventional wisdom on the matter:

"The piece seems destined to raise questions about General McChrystal's judgment, and to spark debate over the wisdom of Mr Obama's strategy, at a time when violence in the country is rising sharply and when several central planks of the strategy appear stalled. Two important American allies, the Dutch and Canadians, have announced plans to pull their combat troops from the country."

The Washington Post has a similar line:

"It also raises fresh questions about the judgment and leadership style of the commander Obama appointed last year in an effort to turn around a worsening conflict."

The Wall Street Journal writes that the piece may alarm the general's colleagues in Washington:

"The article, titled "The Runaway General," has already caused nervousness inside the Pentagon, where memories are still fresh of another blistering profile that got a top commander in hot water: an August 2008 cover story in Esquire on Adm William "Fox" Fallon, then commander of all US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia. The article eventually played a part in Fallon's resignation two years ago.

"In that Esquire piece, however, Fallon appeared to directly contradict White House policy on Iran and other parts of the Middle East; the Rolling Stone article makes no such allegation, but rather is full of jokey put-downs of important Washington players."

Politico is less optimistic about the general's future:

"It will be hard for the White House to get past this since the remarks appear to amount to some level of insubordination."

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder opens the punditry, wondering what the general was thinking:

"I don't think McChrystal intended to do this. Nevertheless, he did. And as for whether there was some miscommunication about attribution, or whether McChrystal thought no one would really notice, or whether he thought a tick-tock like this would help his cause ... those questions are unanswerable right now."

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