Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal: what should be the penalty?

So should he be fired? The military details several responses for insubordination, including loss of rank.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been summoned to Washington to explain derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and his colleagues, administration officials said Tuesday.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who publicly apologized Tuesday for using "poor judgment" in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine (.pdf), has been ordered to attend the monthly White House meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in person Wednesday rather than over a secure video teleconference, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. He'll be expected to explain his comments to Obama and top Pentagon officials, these officials said.

Obama has the authority to fire McChrystal. His predecessor, Gen. David McKiernan, was sacked on grounds that the military needed "new thinking and new approaches" in Afghanistan.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen has told McChrystal of his "deep disappointment" over the article, a spokesman said.

Though McChrystal has not, as far as we know (isn't that phrase simply the most devastating, backhanded insinuation, by the way?), disobeyed a direct order -- that is both the military's as well as the corporate definition of 'insubordination' -- some punishment more severe than harsh language seems in order.

Should he just be chastised? Or relieved of command? Busted back to colonel? Placed before a firing squad? (That would be my preference, based only on past history.)

Allowed to retire in disgrace?

And in the wake of the fact that Afghanistan has now become America's longest war ever, still with no end in sight, with McChrystal's own officers questioning his strategy, is another new general going to make any difference anyway?

Are we in Afghanistan at this point so that we can mine their mineral deposits? Then let the corporations hire the mercenaries to fight there.

Update: Barbara Morrill notes that the Uniform Code of Military Justice defines insubordination as including "contemptuous words".  There's also a poll at that link that currently indicates 80% of more than 7,000 respondents think McChrystal should be cashiered (I voted 'unsure').

Update II: It's not the general; it's the war.

A war that can't be won, in support of an Afghan government that can't govern, and an Afghan military that can't fight? And the Afghan people just continue to suffer.

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