January 22, 2013 | 94 comments
January 14, 2013 | 66 comments
January 8, 2013 | 102 comments
July 25, 2011 | 225 comments
June 10, 2011 | 116 comments
Civilian control of the military was never the issue.
President Obama agrees with me: General McChrystal is not guilty of insubordination. “Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully” [emphasis added], Obama said Wednesday.
But what about “bad judgment”? Were General McChrystal and his staff guilty of saying and doing things that, although technically permissible, nonetheless reflected poorly upon them and the U.S. military?
I don’t think so. It seems to me that the political and pundit class have overreacted to remarks that are rather tame and innocuous.
Yes, I said tame and innocuous. We keep hearing about the general’s “reprehensible” and “inappropriate” comments. But what, exactly, did the general say that is “reprehensible” and “inappropriate”? Can anyone really cite a specific incriminating remark? I don’t think so.
Here, for instance, is what McChrystal said about Obama:
“I found that time [meeting with Obama for the first time last fall] painful. I was selling an unsellable position.”
And here’s what he said, with a laugh, about Vice President Biden: “Are you asking about Vice President Biden? Who’s that?”
And so it goes, with McChrystal expressing mild disappointment in his civilian superiors. Big deal. Yet, everyone just blithely assumes that McChrystal was “out of line.” No, he wasn’t.
Sure, the general’s aides were more blunt in their criticism: “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: ‘Bite me’?”
But given the context of that comment — what was said, when it was said, and how it was said (in a casual conversation filled with good cheer, mirth and joking, light-hearted banter) — the comment clearly is not contemptuous of the civilian leadership. To the contrary: as Peter Worthington points out in “An Unnecessary Firing” at FrumForum:
The unidentified quotes in the Rolling Stone article that were snarky about many of the people around Obama, and on whom Obama depends, were not by McChrystal, and had the flavor of a bunch of guys sounding off over a beer.
They were the sort of cracks about management that happen in every office.
Let me suggest an alternate hypothesis: It is not General McChrystal and his aides who exercised “bad judgment,” but rather the political and pundit class. They’re too thin-skinned; they don’t appreciate the importance of public dialogue and debate; and they adhere to stereotypical notions of military subordination and command and control.
I say stereotypical because to listen to some of the pundits, you’d think that the only good military man is a stupid military man — one who doesn’t think, cogitate and reflect, or who does so only “privately.” But in a free and open society, thinking and analysis aren’t done in solitude. They’re done in the public square and through the media, in the public prints.
That’s because the media and the public prints allow for the type of vigorous dialogue and debate that make our collective efforts better and stronger.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?