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. PTP

    No, he shouldn't be fired. "Loyalty" to a President, King, Emporer, etc. is EARNED. Nothing would have been said if the General had said what a wonderful job the President and his Staff were doing, even if it were a lie. There will only be repurcussions for statements made that DO NOT put the President or his Staff in a positive light. Our government is beginning to have this "gangsta" feel to it......the morale of the country is extremely low....it's like a black cloud is hovering about us all....fear and loathing are becoming the norm.....The U.S. is beginning to feel like a Quentin Tarentino movie!

    June 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • joel palmer

      only to you folks that still can get your mind around the fact that we have a blcak POTUS; get over it; McChrstal is gonna bfired and rightly so; he is insubordinate. period.

      June 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joel palmer

    He's gotta go; just like McArthur. The military is NOT suprem in this country; they follow orders; this guy can begin to enjoy retiremnent in five...four...three...two

    June 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tricia

    Agree with President Obama’s policies in Afghanistan or not, Rolling Stone was not the place for the General to express disagreement and especially not disrespect. Would the General tolerate similar comments about him from his subordinates? Good grief, no. How can the President even trust this man? Fire him if he doesn’t resign first.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. EWR

    MAT...really? So OBAMA created 8A contract opportunities for minorities and women? The only thing scary about November is how much you Republicans and Tea Baggers really believe what you say. While you sit comfortably at a computer with all system GO here in the US....Obama has kept the ship afloat in numerous ways (economy, mortgage crises, two wars, nuclearized Iran, oil spill, healthcare, etc.). I can't think of any Administration who has managed so much is such short time. It is scary to think that conservatives are fine with a blank check to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but don't want to offer a single dime for children and under insured adults to receive health care. It is intellectually dishonest for you to have the gall to blame Obama for all the ills of the Bush administration and not even hold 43 accountable for anything. 43 left 44 with a near-recessed economy (that was in a budget surplus when he received it from 42), US Forces engaged in two wars with no exit strategy for either theatre, and a mortgage crisis from sub-prime loans initiated during 43's presidency). It appears Republicans only care about profit over people and can't muster the thought of providing a basic level of service to the underprivileged. 44 is a deliberate person, granted, however, what he has done in a year and a half: the economy is growing again, unemployment is holding steady at or below 10%, we have exit strategies and timetables for Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the first time in a long time..there is a multi-lateral response against Iran that includes Russia and China). 43 would have given the orders already for us to go into Afghanistan, provided more tax cuts for th rich, and the oil would have continued to spill.

    Stop telling the rest of us to take off our blinders and take off your own. Get off the Rush and Beck diet (I won't even mention Palin unless you all really believe she's a viable candidate) and take an objective view of your own. I guarantee if you stand on your own two feet, that you will realize there is a big world out there.

    I only advocate a little common sense and enough with the tomfoolery.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael in Houston

      extremely well said. I agree with this entire post.

      June 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      That was well said EWR! The OBAMAHATERS will never see it the way we do as they sit in their little small world and expect things to stay the same as it was back in the horse and buggy days.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      @ EWR...I love it...brilliant.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Turner

    President Obama will not fire General McCrystal....that is not his style. He will take this situation as an opportunity to further understand a very sensitive situation. McChrystal's staff can feel free to puff up & spout off without fear of retribution, something they know they wouldn't dare do under the Bush Administration.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl Wayne

      Good point. Bush would have probably kept keep going on about how McChrystal is sending the terrorist the wrong message and then would fire him.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JLM

    Mr. Pres. if you are reading this ! ! !

    June 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dwayne Parker

    THIS JUST IN! George W Bush is NO LONGER PRESIDENT. It is time we movie forward and hold the current President accountable! He has been here for 18 months and he has done much to be accountable for. Just because Bush f'ed up, that doesnt mean Obama gets a pass to "f up less"--we need a President–not a talkind head like Obama. He wasnt ready for this job.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AM

    McChrystal needs to go.

    He was warned about this kind of behavior in the past. When others wanted him canned for his previous statements to the press, the President let hm stay on. I don't think Obama will be so inclined this time.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tyler

    Unfortunately, I don't have time to read all the comments (nor do I have the patience... starting to get a headache, lol), but here's the thing (and this goes to everyone):
    I am an enlisted member of the USAF, and as such I know a little about our rules and regs, so I can tell you that Gen. McChrystal DID step out of line. WAY out of line. Not only are you not supposed to disrespect those appointed over you, but you are not supposed to openly criticize the President or any other government officials (because things like THIS happen... this whole situation is a mess; it reflects poorly on our military and it shows that we do not have a united front, which in turn shows weakness and dischord).

    HOWEVER, I can't say I completely fault him... just because we wear a uniform does not mean that we don't have oppinions; as members of the armed forces, we should know that there is a time and a place for everything, and a public forum like this was obviously not it, but I know that a lot of us probably AGREE with what he said. We just have to learn to work within the system.

    Ultimately, I don't believe it's worth firing a General for some slanderous remarks. You have to realize (and it was stated in this article) that Gen. McChrystal is very good at his job, and putting so much into your work can make you lose sight of some of the more sensetive areas that go hand-in-hand with the job. I think that a public appology and maybe loss of rank would be sufficient, but losing a decorated and knowledgeable General this far into the war could be extremely detrimental and completely unnecessary.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • J-Z

      Given my 17+ years of service to this country in the Army, I'll weigh in as well
      You are correct... He stepped way out of line.
      You are also correct... To fire him would be a terrible loss.
      You are also correct... There is a chain of command and a proper place and time for expressing one's opinion as a member of the military... neither of which were apparently adhered to in this case.

      Since POTUS is my ultimate CMDR, despite my complete and utter disagreement, my response is (and always will be, short of an unlawful order), "Yes Sir!" and move out smartly.

      God Bless you and your USAF brothers – We'll take all the CAS we can get!

      June 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Turner

    Oh, I forgot to say....since I am not Presiden Obama....SHOOT THE TRAITOR!!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |


    He knows the impact of his reactions.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. peggy

    I am quite sure the General is sorry for those words. He got carried away by those reporters.
    Let him stay on. He is a good person.


    June 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kerry

    What happenned to freedom of speech now.......when the General expresses his opinion he is called all the way back from his SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY and asked to apologize but when a Muslim expresses their opinion on something, all of a sudden the FREEDOM OF SPEECH card is thrown at them.....HOW HYPOCRITICAL!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike N

      I don't think you understand the First Amendment. McChrystal is free to say what he wants. Obama is free to fire him for it.

      June 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Do you folks even READ other comments before you post? Freedom of Speech? NO... not for members of the military. Don't believe it? Do some research – Google the UCMJ and read it. In particular, Article 88...

      Please don't post with "facts" until you know that they actually ARE facts... Free Speech? Geez...

      June 23, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. James

    Hell yes! I can't stand Obama or Biden. I too believe Biden to be a complete moron, but as a military member I am not going to let anyone (News Media, or subordinates) know that I don't like my civilian leadership. I definitely would not do anything to disparage them, or belittle them in front of my subordinates. That is completely out of line, and he should go. If he disagreed with the way the administration is handling the conflict he has plenty of different ways to express his opinion without belittling them, or coming off as insubordinate. If I did that, I would be fired so he should too.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      You just did... thanks.

      June 23, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. XWngLady

    The only time that a soldier has the right to question their superior's authority is when they are being asked to do something illegal or that would threaten them personally. If you have a disagreement about strategy then the place to discuss that is in private with the President Not in Rolling Stones magazine. He is out of line and should be removed.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
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