Stanley McChrystal Learns A Lesson

I know, I know, Stanley McChrystal. The “Spartan Warrior” who was so focused on his job that he rarely ate, drank or slept. Decades in the service. A fourth generation military man, probably one of the best the Armed Forces have to offer. I don’t actually doubt he’s all of that and more and let me admit right here, far more of a ‘man’ than I’ll ever to able to claim to be. But there is one thing that Gen. McChrystal seems to have forgotten, or decided didn’t matter, that I do know. You don’t fuck with the Boss, any Boss, at least not in public.

It’s been postulated by other pudnits that Gen. McChrystal purposefully engineered these comments to let the world know about his dissatisfaction with President Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan. Given the serendipity of how of Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings got to spend so much time with McChrystal’s and his team- a volcano in Iceland that forced a switch from air to land travel across Europe- I doubt it. He may have seen an opportunity and taken advantage of it, but I’m not sure even that’s the case.

These are hard-core, hard-assed and hard-fighting men (by all accounts McChrystal himself is far more comfortable engineering covert military assassination than overt character assassination) who grew accustomed enough with Hastings to let their mouths run away with them after a few drinks. It just seems too weird for Gen. McChrystal to use Rolling Stone, of all venues, to intentionally engage in back-biting against his CIC. I believe it was just a bad mistake that many other generals have made before.

Subordinates complained about George Washington, back in the day when we didn’t yet have a President to complain about. Benedict Arnold actually committed treason because of his disagreements of how Washington was using his skills. George McClellan bitched about Lincoln, got fired, ran against him in the next election (by the way, the civilian, Abe Lincoln, went on to find another general and win his war while McClellan lost his election). Patton complained about everything and paid; I’m sure Eisenhower bitched too, but never publicly, and won.

Every general in every army has complained about their civilian leadership, be it MacArthur and FDR (and later of course, Truman), Montgomery and Churchill, Ney and Napoleon or Marc Antony and Caesar. And the ones who did it publicly (except Ney) usually came to grief over it. Someone once said, “There’s nothing so much like a god on earth as a General on a battlefield.”, and it’s true. But America is not a military nation and our generals answer to a civilian government- their Commander in Chief is a civilian. And just as privates don’t publicly complain about sergeants, Generals don’t bitch about Presidents, or Vice President’s, Secretary’s of Defense, Ambassadors or Security Advisors. Gen. McChrystal wouldn’t stand for it from his troops and President Obama shouldn’t either.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a General in the Army or working for General Mills…if you publicly bitch about the boss, you’re gonna get shit for it. Gen. McChrystal, if he held such little trust and respect for the chain of command above him, should have resigned in protest, because there’s no way for him to have his cake-command of Afghanistan- and eat it too. It’s sad…by all accounts he was doing a pretty good job on the ground. It’s a shame he couldn’t publicly show President Obama the same respect he reportedly shows President Karzai.

President Obama, for the good of the operation, may keep McChrystal and swallow the inevitable charges of showing weakness, just as if he fires him he’ll be called a thin-skinned ego-maniac. Such is the nature of pudnitry in America. And though very good, McChrystal isn’t perfect either…if he doesn’t agree with the way the war is being fought, no matter how good he is, he’s not the right man for the job.

(Author’s Note: I apologize for my misspelling of Marshall Ney’s and Marc Antony’s names. Sorry guys, but you’re dead anyway, so who cares?)