Why the Washington Post’s publication of General McChrystal’s Afghanistan assessment was a patriotic act.
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The reason to resign is not to cause the President political difficulties, though political difficulties may result from the General’s resignation.
The reason to resign is that, as the commander on the ground, General McChrystal has taken a solemn oath to lead young men and women in battle. And if, as their commander, he truly believes that he cannot achieve victory with the resources given him, then it is unconscionable for him to send his young charges into battle under-resourced and under-manned.
In short, a decision to resign is about honor and integrity, not politics and partisanship. Civil-military relations in America, moreover, are fine. Our military and civilian leaders are big enough, mature enough and wise enough to handle dissent and disagreement.
Our republican system of government allows for, and even encourages, dissent and disagreement. General McChrystal understands this, and it seems that at least some of our civilian leaders in the Obama administration do as well. Here the people rule.
As for Bob Woodward and the Washington Post, they are to be commended for publishing General McChrystal’s confidential assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. Doing so was a public service which has aided and abetted American democracy. We need more such leaks, more such newspaper reports, and a more robust and better informed public discussion about the great issues of our time. Bring it on.
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