Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why Firing Was the Right Choice

Back during the Korean War, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur put his foot in his mouth and marched around a bit. His public pronouncements angered President Harry Truman, and gave him a dilemma.

On the one hand, MacArthur was a lot more popular than Truman.

On the other hand, Truman knew that MacArthur was being insubordinate. Insubordination is serious stuff in the military - you do NOT publicly disrespect your superiors in the chain of command. Add to that the fact that in the United States, the uniformed armed services are subordinate to the civilian government. If it were not subordinate, this wouldn't BE America.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice is explicit:
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.
So President Obama had a choice - laugh it off or otherwise ignore General McChrystal, which would have had the righties squealing that he was 'soft' and scared of the military. We have seen that Obama is hardly soft - he personally authorized the killing of Somali pirates by Navy snipers, and has authorized more predator drone attacks than his predecessor.

So Obama sacked McChrystal and his command staff, replacing him with Petraeus. It was a safe choice, since Petraeus helped write the current strategy, will likely get confirmed by the Senate today, and will provide some continuity.

At his Rose Garden press conference yesterday however, Obama ignored a shouted question, refusing to answer whether or not we're winning in Afghanistan.

I don't think we are, and I don't think we will. We dropped the ball in 2002, and haven't gotten it back.

Time to take the ball and go home.


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