General Stanley McChrystal: Off the Reservation
The president is said to be hot under the collar over McChrystal's slaps at him and his national-security team in an article in
The general is represented through an aide's observations as mocking Vice President
The most politically damaging part of the article, seized upon by the news-media echo chamber, is an introductory editorial comment by the magazine saying the general "has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy -- the wimps in the
McChrystal is never quoted directly as saying these words. But in a grossly irresponsible lapse of journalism, many sites on the Internet picked up the "wimps" comment using quotation marks, leaving the impression he did say them. The general quickly apologized for the story, but without disavowing the magazine's editorial characterization or repudiating it.
The incident has spotlighted again the debate last fall when McChrystal first called for the surge. Biden worked on the inside to assure that any further troop buildup would focus on rooting out al-Qaida, with the 9/11 attacks as the original justification for the American intervention in
McChrystal earlier was said to have wanted a larger troop surge for his counterinsurgency strategy, and the difficulty the military effort has encountered on the ground in the Taliban stronghold of
In the most recent congressional testimony by McChrystal's military boss, Gen.
Obama in announcing the
The president has continued to give that assurance, but the appearances that the surge may not be working or is progressing too slowly are threatening another unwanted uncertainty. McChrystal's latest verbal indiscretion, no matter how well or inaccurately expressed by his aides, only adds to that hazy outlook.
Having replaced his earlier top commander in
Whether McChrystal said them or not, and whether he intended to convey that he was keeping his eye on any wimps in the
Whatever the general's offense, he has been no
As never before in his 17 months in the Oval Office, the president's toughness and decisiveness as a leader has been questioned in the Gulf oil spill, and in how long it took him to take BP to the woodshed. In that fiasco, he said it would serve no purpose to yell. Maybe he will feel differently in this one.
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General Stanley McChrystal: Off the Reservation | Politics
(c) 2010 Jules Witcover