The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

General McChrystal prefers Bud Light to Biden

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Obama & McChrystal | GETTY Images

The upcoming issue of Rolling Stone is carrying a piece of hellfire for Obama. General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan is profiled, in all of his brash arrogance and his comments to reporter, Michael Hastings will make for some chilling reading in the White House. Although the piece cannot yet be found online, Politico has put it up and so has TIME, check it out while it’s still up.  Update: Piece is now up on RS in full.

The piece doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already know. However, having these comments by McChrystal out in the open is something else. Namely, it’s open insubordination.

McChrystal has already issued a public apology, reportedly apologised to Biden personally, and been called into what promises to be a fairly fiery meeting with President Obama.

In the RS piece, McChrystal openly trashes Vice President Joe Biden, Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry and his distaste for Obama himself is veiled pretty thinly. I’m not going to fill this post with quotes from the article, you can read it yourselves via the links above or check out some of the choice bits here.

But such revelations! Who knew about the General’s preference for Bud Light Lime and his set of custom nunchucks, engraved with his name? How is the US going to win the respect & fear of the enemy if it gets out that top Generals are drinking Bud Light for fun? And custom “McChrystal”-engraved nunchucks? What is he, the karate kid? But I digress…

As I said, not much of the controversial stuff is new. McChrystal’s disdain for Biden & Eikenberry have been doing the rounds among pundits for quite some time now and I don’t think anyone really thought that all was well between him and Obama.

The real question of course is: what now? Will Obama dismiss him for insubordination?

The political implications of this for Obama are also a challenge. One one hand, it’s clear insubordination and to not fire the General will make Obama look terribly weak, as well as setting a negative precedent for future disgruntled men in uniform. On the other hand, Obama does not need another high-profile fracas for the GOP to exploit, given that they are likely to back McChrystal and his hawkish plans for COIN and Afghanistan. With the mid-terms looming and Obama already looking politically fragile, he doesn’t need more pain by looking soft on Afghanistan and National Security. It seems Obama is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Here’s what I think Obama will do. I predict that Obama will let things slide with McChrystal but muzzle him for the rest of his tenure. Whether the damage has already been done is another question. It’s no secret that McChrystal opposes the drawdown in 2011 and wants another surge in Afghanistan, will he force this issue back to center stage and successfully avoid a drawdown or is the war’s supposed growing unpopularity among Americans enough to ensure that Obama’s drawdown remains unchallenged?

Here’s what I think Obama should do. Obama should fire General McChrystal. The political reasons for why he should remain are important, sure, but what’s more important is surely preserving the Constitution of the United States, the authority of the President and the moral fabric of the world’s supposedly leading democracy. Regardless of how arrogant a General is, he has no right to openly mock his democratically elected leaders. Allowing him to do so would set a nasty precedent and would forever enshrine Obama as a toothless President.

What’s really appalling about all this is how things got this far. How could McChrystal and his staff possibly be so stupid? How could they deliver such brazenly unconstitutional remarks to a reporter (and one who writes for Rolling Stone no less)?

More answers will come after the results of Obama’s meeting but one thing’s for certain, the President takes another hit.


Written by alexlobov

June 23, 2010 at 12:53 am

3 Responses

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  1. Hi Alex

    Well, Obama has done what he should do, fire the guy.

    Will all the military interventionism come back and bite American democracy in the arse?

    Here is how this may backfire. Remember Collin Powell and his work in the first gulf war? He was in the running for President and ended up on the lecture circuit and eventually held up a vial of anthrax like a snake oil salesman on the floor of the UN. Iraq is still paying for that sales pitch.

    McCrhystal will probably piggy back on some Republican group. It will probably take the form of a think tank. We will see him do the rounds of studios and eventually become a busybody in the Republican party.

    There are whispers of him being a potential presidential candidate and being irreverent to a Democratic President is about the best thing you can have on your CV for that job profile (particularly if you are a Republican Poster Boy). At this stage, it may sound like a conspiracy. But if American Generals waging wars become larger than life media celebrities – we might be in for some interesting politics.

    God Bless America 😛


    June 25, 2010 at 11:40 pm

  2. Haha interesting indeed. Apparently there’s already a Facebook group titled “McChrystal for President 2012”. Crazy stuff. But I do think some of these military men really aren’t interested in civilian politics, the RS profile indicates that M4 is too much of a guns-blazing ascetic hard-ass to mire himself in the civilian political mess and all of its frustrating bureaucracy.

    And we’re still waiting on Petraeus after all!


    June 26, 2010 at 12:46 am

  3. Military president? Prepare for war, World!


    July 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm

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