June 22nd, 2010
01:17 PM ET

McChrystal apologizes, media ask: Should he be axed?

The gaffe from America's top military commander in Afghanistan and his staffer’s “Biden?-Did-you-say-Bite-Me?” comment is biting back. Hours after news broke that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was recalled to Washington amid his controversial remarks about colleagues in an explosive Rolling Stone magazine article, calls for the firing of the general have surfaced.

The Atlantic magazine’s national correspondent wrote that McChrystal has violated the chain of command and should be sacked for disrespect and insubordination.

"… first is for the civilian Commander in Chief to act in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and demonstrate that there are consequences for showing open disrespect for the chain of command."

A Talking Points Memo columnist points out that this isn’t the first time McChrystal has gone on a scathing tirade about those who are “not in their groove on strategy.” Not firing McChrystal will only hurt President Obama’s standing as commander in chief, he argues.

"Obama needs to fire him. If he doesn't, McChrystal's brand will be validated and the environment of insubordination and unprofessional conduct will be reinforced. If McChrystal survives his White House encounter, then Obama will be diminished. That is what this has come to."

Calling the general’s comments in Rolling Stone “near-suicidal," The Daily Telegraph’s U.S. editor thinks keeping McChrystal, on the contrary, might bode well for Obama’s administration.

"If Obama still believes that success in Afghanistan is possible then the ultimate display of genuine toughness, self-confidence and courage on the President’s part could be to stick with the man he chose to get the job done, despite the general’s reckless and insulting words."

TIME magazine’s Joe Klein writes about the McChrystal he’s known, calling him an “extraordinary man” with a thorough set of skills necessary for the mission in Afghanistan.

"But there is another side to McChrystal: he is so focused on his real job that he hasn't spent sufficient time learning how to play the public relations game. He speaks his mind; in private conversations, I've found, he is incapable of fudging the truth. This leads to a certain myopia, an innocence regarding the not-so-brave new world of the media."

Klein goes on to say that while McChrystal may have to go, firing the “irreplaceable” man will be a great “setback” and “tragedy.”

Afghan President Harmid Karzai doesn’t seem too concerned by McChrystal’s remarks and clearly wants him on the ground. The president’s spokesman, Waheed Omer, told Reuters:

“The President strongly supports General McChrystal and his strategy in Afghanistan and believes he is the best commander the United States has sent to Afghanistan over the last nine years."

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Filed under: Military • Security Brief
soundoff (520 Responses)
  1. astasch

    This is a difficult but stratight forward decision for the President. The General met once before with the Predident to receive direction from his boss about making comments to the press that are negative concerning top officials in the United States chain of command. The General met once privately with the President after mocking a comment from the Vice President. Having a bad memory is one thing that would get the General relieved, being insubordinate to the President on the topic of negative comments to the press is the final act the General will take.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. uva1979

    Getting away with a lot of "stuff". What an intelligent comment. Exactly what "stuff" are you talking about? Be specific? I for one am glad to have an intelligent , thoughtful President to handle all these crisis since he entered office.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mfb

    Yes..let's fire Obama and bring back GW. What a great leader he was, vital military strategist that he is. You idiots should take your pickups and your Toby Keith t-shirts and your "from my cold dead hands" stickers and volunteer to fight. Put your money where your big blusteries are.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Toby Keith visits our troops on a regular basis. How dare you disparage an American who may be a little old to join, but does his part (and then some!) to keep our troops' morale uplifted. What have you done for your country? You are just as "racist" and biased as most and it is evident in our remarks towards Americans who do not believe just as you do. What happened to the freedom of opinion? You attack others with a difference of opinion with the ability of a child on a playground. Most Americans are not upset because the president is black. It is his choices not his color!

      June 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. webbtman

    I am a 20 year Army retiree, and I served under Ford, Carter, Regan and George Bush. None of them would have allowed a commander to speak to them. A good military man's duty is to advise and then follow the orders given as if they were his own. His staff and especially a reporter should have never heard his true feelings. He may be a brilliant military strategist, but he must be as dumb as a rock to allow this to have been said in front of a reporter. He should have his resignation in his hand when he walks into the oval office.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat


      June 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Carl

    If everyone who made a mistake was fired, we'd all be looking for jobs. If everyone who spoke his or her mind was fired, we'd have only idiots in public office (no, there are some intelligent ones there). The general did himself no favors by speaking to Rolling Stone at all, but lots of people grumble about their bosses while carrying out their driections. He's not insubordinate unless he deliberately counteracts the goals set by the President. While certain political goals are necessary in Afghanistan, if you want a military advancement, you let the military man in charge determine the proper course of action.

    All this call for resignation is just hot air, and rather poorly emitted hot air at that.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Not "quite true". Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice specifically addresses the "use of contemptuous words against the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense" and various other officials including State Governors by a Commissioned Officer, as a punishable offense.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PatriotinNM

    I just love the non-military and "news media" feeling they have the context and right to decide on a warfighter. Idiotic. The interview was a really bad idea, and the General knows it. However, the media is way out there thinking they can – no, should – second guess this warfighter and his Commander-in-Chief.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    What would you do if your employee was disloyal to you? I would yell and fire him instantly. I can't have that kind of untrust an negativity in my company.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    The general should be fired immediately. No commander in chief should ever put up with such insubordination.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    Fired? Are you kidding me. Fire Obama not this guy. Republicans racist? Seriously? That's the best you could come up with? There are racist Dems as well as Racist Reps as well as others. The bottom line is Obama is ruining this Nation.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mcgija

    The general should probably be reprimanded but kept on. Generals shouldn't have to play the media game. There job is to get the job done on the ground which a politician can't do. If we make all the generals political spokes pieces we are going to end up with horrible generals. Not to mention that pulling a commander out and replacing him will hamper hurt the mission in Afghanistan. Republican's need to stop yelling anger and Democrats need to stop claiming racism for every criticism and both need to stop claiming the far right and left are the problem. Deal with the issues not the empty political words.
    Keeping the General is the right thing to do.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      @Mcgija....I repeat....the general chose to play the media game. It wasn't forced on him. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom Legare

    It'a a sad commentary of today's lack of respect everywhere. In days gone by Mchrystal would have been fired in a heartbeat (if he really said these things. Even the military sadly knows nothing about protocol or respect anymore. How can we expect the average American idiot to know any better!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MAT

    This administration cannot take critisim, even when it could be helpful. They think they are perfect and everyone else is to blame for their lack of leadership and experience. Thank the left for voting against "Bush" instead of for a respectable leader.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colt

      Yeah, where's Palin when we need her?

      June 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adam

    McCain himself said "General McChrystal’s comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military." If my supervisor wrote in my report that my behavior is inconsistent and inappropriate to that of my boss', I would be fired. For those Obama haters, he's fighting an expensive war during the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression – neither of which was under his watch when it was created and erupted.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jonathan

    Gen Patton in the 2nd World War did far worse, but without him we would all be goose-stepping to Hitler's Germania. If McChrystal is asked to resign... Obama's resignation should be attached.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heidi

      well said!

      June 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • liz

      nicely put!

      June 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • J-Z


      June 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Butch

      The problem here seems to be the general lack of respect people have for Obama as a leader! When it came to the Health Care vote, that was shoved down our throats without respect to what We-The-People wanted – or STILL wants. When it came to the Stimulous bill, he ignored the ballooning deficit, again against pubic outcry. Didn't he promise to close Gitmo? Did it happen? Didn't he promise to end the war in Iraq? Has it happened? Bring the troops home in a few months.... How about the Immigration Reform???? Promises, Promises....on and on – and OUT THE DOOR in the next election!

      June 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Peter

    Like what Gretchen, oh wise one? All the undermining was perpetrated under your buddy Bush over the previous eight years. Do you think the worldwide meltdown is the result of Obama's policies? The financial crash occurred at the end of Bush's term. Get your facts right.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
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