Friday, July 2, 2010
The General and the Community Organizer
By Paul R. Hollrah
June 26, 2010
Channel surfing from ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN through MSNBC and Fox News,
the inside-the-beltway pundits had a field day trying to get inside the heads of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, General Stanley McChrystal, and McChrystal’s top aides. The one thing common to all of the analyses, by the most famous and highly-paid talking heads in the Western World, was that they are all wrong… dead wrong. What is certain is that they all owe General McChrystal and his senior aides an apology for assuming that they are lame-brained numbskulls.
The facts of the McChrystal case are not in dispute. General McChrystal and his senior officers allowed a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine, Michael Hastings, to have almost unprecedented access during an extended stay in Paris. The extended stay was due, in part, to an excess of atmospheric ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, keeping the McChrystal party grounded for days.
In an interview with CNN, Hastings reported that he had a tape recorder in his hand most of the time and that McChrystal was “very aware” that his comments would find their way into print. He said, “McChrystal and his people set no ground rules for their conversations, although they did ask that some parts of their conversations were off the record.” Hastings subsequently published a lengthy profile of General McChrystal on June 22, titled, The Runaway General.
As Hastings wrote in his profile, McChrystal thought that Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass during their first meeting. Of their second meeting, an advisor to McChrystal quoted the general as saying that it was “a 10-minute photo op.” He went on to say, “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about (McChrystal), who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f_ _ _ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
As General McChrystal flew from Afghanistan to Washington to face Obama in the Oval Office, the almost unanimous opinion of the talking heads was that the comments made by McChrystal and his staff were off the cuff and inadvertent. But to believe that is to totally ignore who these men are.
General McChrystal and his top officers are not simple-minded, knuckle-dragging brutes. To the contrary, they are intelligent, thoughtful, highly educated, patriots… graduates of West Point and other fine universities… who are dedicated to duty, honor, and country. To think that such men would be so careless as to speak unflatteringly of Obama, Biden, and other top administration figures, in the presence of a reporter for a notoriously left wing publication, defies logic… at the very least. To think that men who are trained to be careful and deliberate in everything they do, could do something so careless and so unguarded is simply beyond comprehension.
I would argue that McChrystal and his aides knew exactly what they were doing.
From the day that he became the handpicked “spear carrier” for Obama’s unique brand of warfare… playing at being Commander in Chief while playing to his far left constituency… McChrystal’s life had been one of constant frustration. After telling Obama exactly how many troops he needed to carry out his mission, Obama dithered for months before deciding to give him just half the troops he requested. McChrystal could not have been happy about that.
The Obama team insisted on new Rules of Engagement designed to reduce collateral damage (civilian casualties). Obama’s ROE required that U.S. Troops must be able to see the enemy with weapon in hand before they were allowed to return fire. One videotape circulated on the Internet showed a platoon of Marines pinned down by enemy sniper fire. But since the enemy was firing from some distance behind the open window of a building, the Marines could not actually see the weapon being fired. Although they were taking deadly fire, they were prohibited by the ROE from putting small arms fire or an RPG through the window opening.
Under Obama’s politically correct ROE, our soldiers and Marines were required to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. McChrystal could not have been happy about that.
A strict new interrogation policy, dictated by Attorney General Eric Holder, required that prisoners must be delivered to an Interrogation Center within twenty-four hours of being captured or be released. A great deal of actionable intelligence was lost as a result and battle-hardened enemy fighters were returned to the field to kill Americans. McChrystal must have found that to be incomprehensible.
But the greatest insult to our troops in the field, and to the officers who lead them, may be a new battlefield medal designed by the Obama team. It is called the Courageous Restraint Medal and is awarded to soldiers and Marines who demonstrate uncommon restrain in combat by not firing their weapons even when they feel threatened by the enemy. Would we be surprised to learn that the preponderance of these medals were awarded posthumously? McChrystal must have found that to be an insanity.
I suggest that, having his best military judgments subjected to the White House political sieve for nearly a year and a half, McChrystal decided that he’d had enough. And when he announced to his senior staff that he was prepared to retire they decided to push back… to make the most of a bad situation. It was clear that, if McChrystal were to simply take off his uniform and walk away, his retirement would be page-twenty news for a day or two before the mainstream media and the American people forgot all about him.
They had to make the most of his retirement because it provided a one-time opportunity to show the American people, as well as our enemies and our allies, that the man who claims the title of Commander in Chief of the U.S. military does not command the respect of our men and women in uniform. To make the most of that opportunity they had to choose their messenger very carefully.
They knew that, by openly showing their disrespect for Obama in front of just any newsman, they may not attract the attention they desired. Like any astute observer of the MSM, they knew that most reporters would turn on their own mothers if it meant a good story. But they could not take a chance that a mainstream media reporter might suffer a rare pang of conscience when confronted with the prospect of ruining the careers of some of the most senior officers in the War on Terror. They had to fix the odds as much as possible in their favor so they chose to use Michael Hastings and Rolling Stone Magazine.
During the long hours that General McChrystal was in the air between Kabul and Washington, Obama knew that he had just two choices… both bad. He could declare McChrystal to be an irreplaceable asset in the war effort, give him a public reprimand, and send him back to Kabul. Or he could fire McChrystal, sending a clear message that, at least in his own mind, he was the Commander in Chief.
In the former case, he was certain to appear weak and ineffectual… a man not totally in charge. In the latter case, he might at least win a few rave reviews from the Kool-Ade drinkers in the mainstream media. He chose the latter of the two options.
But what is now lost in all of the hand-wringing and speculation is the fact that McChrystal and his people have succeeded in doing exactly what they set out to do. They wanted to plant the seed in the minds of the American people that Obama is not up to the task of being Commander in Chief and that he does not command the respect of the men and women of the uniformed services… from the newest Private E-1 up to the top four-star generals and admirals.
That seed is now firmly planted and it cannot be unplanted.
From this day forward, no one will have to tell the American people that Stanley McChrystal is a true warrior, a man’s man, and that Barack Obama is nothing more than a… community organizer. Well done, General