View Poll Results: Do you have confidence in the Obama Admin to prosecute the Afghan war successfully?

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Thread: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

  1. #1

    Default America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Top commander in Afghanistan, that is.

    McChrystal Apologizes for Criticizing Obama Team

    The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has apologized for a magazine profile in which he criticizes the U.S. administration.

    An article out this week in "Rolling Stone" magazine depicts Gen. Stanley McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war.

    Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in a statement issued Tuesday the article "was a mistake reflecting poor judgment." He said he has enormous respect for the Obama administration, and the piece fell short of his principles of "personal honor and professional integrity."

    CBSNews.com Special Report: Afghanistan
    U.S. Tax Dollars Fueling Afghan Insurgency

    "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," said McChrystal, adding that he remains "committed to ensuring" the successful outcome of the almost nine-year-old Afghan war.

    McChrystal on the Challenges in Afghanistan

    In Rolling Stone, McChrystal is described by an aide as "disappointed" in his first Oval Office meeting with an unprepared President Barack Obama. The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start. Obama called McChrystal on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops.

    "I found that time painful," McChrystal said in the article, on newsstands Friday. "I was selling an unsellable position."

    Obama agreed to dispatch an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan only after months of study that many in the military found frustrating. And the White House's troop commitment was coupled with a pledge to begin bringing them home in July 2011, in what counterinsurgency strategists advising McChrystal regarded as an arbitrary deadline.

    A band of McChrystal's profane, irreverent aides are quoted mocking Vice President Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The profile, titled "The Runaway General," emerged from several weeks of interviews and travel with McChrystal's tight circle of aides this spring.

    It includes a list of administration figures said to back McChrystal, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and puts Biden at the top of a list of those who don't.

    The article claims McChrystal has seized control of the war "by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House."

    Biden initially opposed McChrystal's proposal for additional forces last year. He favored a narrower focus on hunting terrorists.

    If Eikenberry had the same doubts, McChrystal said he never expressed them until a leaked internal document threw a wild card into the debate over whether to add more troops last November. In the document, Eikenberry said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not a reliable partner for the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal was hired to execute.

    McChrystal said he felt "betrayed" and accused the ambassador of giving himself cover.

    "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books," McChrystal told the magazine. "Now, if we fail, they can say 'I told you so."'

    There was no immediate response from Eikenberry. The Associated Press requested comment through an aide after business hours on Monday in Kabul.

    Eikenberry remains in his post in Kabul, and although both men publicly say they are friends, their rift is on full display.

    McChrystal and Eikenberry, himself a retired Army general, stood as far apart as the speakers' platform would allow during a White House news conference last month.

    Rolling Stone interviewed troops frustrated by McChrystal's strict rules for combat that are intended to reduce the number of civilian casualties.

    At one outpost, a soldier McChrystal had met earlier was killed in a house that the local U.S. commander had repeatedly asked to destroy. The request was denied, apparently out of concern that razing the house would anger locals whose allegiance the U.S. is trying to win.

    "Does that make any (expletive) sense?" Pfc. Jared Pautsch asks. "We should just drop a (expletive) bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself, 'What are we doing here?"'

    McChrystal told Congress in December that 2010 would be a critical year for the U.S. campaign to oust Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants from Afghanistan and firmly place power in the hands of a stable Afghan government. He laid out a set of milestones which he said must be met to achieve that goal.

    David Martin reports on McChrystal's Milestones

    The irony, says CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder, is that McChrystal needs the full support of President Obama to win the war, as much as Mr. Obama needs McChrystal on his side to achieve one of his biggest foreign policy goals.
    This is highly frustrating, yet very predictable. Did anyone really think a one term senator would be able to manage governing the nation and fighting two wars? I guess 53% did.

    At the time of the ridiculously protracted decision process, I was assured that the arbitrary deadline for withdrawal was not a mistake, but in fact a clever plan to put pressure on Karzai. Barack was two steps ahead of conventional thinking!

    Now, many months later, we're best friends with Karzai again and we find out what the military really thinks of this "commander and chief". Oh, and the White House and the DoD still can't seem to get their stories straight on that 2011 deadline.

    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 06-22-2010 at 15:01.

  2. #2
    Insomniac and tired of it Senior Member Slyspy's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    You would have done better to link to the original Rolling Stone article, rather than a third party analysis IMO.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by Slyspy View Post
    You would have done better to link to the original Rolling Stone article, rather than a third party analysis IMO.
    Indeed. However, this is breaking news today, and I do not believe it is out for the general public yet. Advanced copies were sent to the press, and all that is available are excerpts from those agencies, unfortunately.

  4. #4
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    So.... a two term senator, or a C grade ex-alcoholic drug addict was the perfect choice?

    Democracies have specialists to help - all those generals and so on. I believe that the Pentagon has something to do with it.

    Just sitting on a committee for 30 years makes you no better at it than Obama. Even being a general might not work as the picture is way beyond mere warfare.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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  5. #5
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    PJ's pronouncement earlier was, "The war in Afghanistan was lost in November of 2008." That should tell you most of what you need to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slyspy View Post
    You would have done better to link to the original Rolling Stone article, rather than a third party analysis IMO.
    Full article here.

    McCrhystal really messed up big-time. Not in his criticism of his CIC, which is bad enough, but in bad-mouthing all sorts of colleagues to a RS reporter. Amateur hour. Examples:

    Gen McChrystal also appears to joke in response to a question about the vice-president.

    "Are you asking about Vice-President Biden?" McChrystal asks. 'Who's that?"

    An aide then says: "Biden? Did you say: Bite Me?" [...]

    Another aide refers to national security adviser, James Jones, as a "clown stuck in 1985".

    Of an e-mail from US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, Gen McChrystal says: "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke... I don't even want to open it."
    Last edited by Lemur; 06-22-2010 at 13:49.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur View Post
    I love how the implication of PJ's rhetoric is that the war in Afghanistan would be sorted out if only we didn't have this incompetent bumbler socialist in the WH. Note that PJ's pronouncement on all of this earlier was, "The war in Afghanistan was lost in November of 2008."

    So tell us all, PJ, what the winning strategy in Afghanistan is. Tell us who we should back, how many troops we should deploy, how many more years we should pay for their country, etc.

    It is rather surprising that you would link to that thread in relation to this article, as it only seems to validate my concerns and highlight your misplaced confidence in this administration.

    I did enjoy the open ended call to "solve Afghanistan", both cleverly and completely sidestepping the topic.

    Also, tell us what should be done with a commanding officer who bucks civilian authority. I'm sure there must be a precedent somewhere ...
    Ouch. Really? Apparently the bruised egos resulting from this extend beyond the White House.

    Edit: I thought I was the only serial editor around here.

    In any event, I'm not sure how much more life your whole "Panzer hates Obama so disregard everything he says" theme has left... you may consider revising your line of attack, sir.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 06-22-2010 at 14:18.

  7. #7
    Master of Few Words Senior Member KukriKhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    La guerre! C’est une chose trop grave pour la confier à des militaires.
    - Georges Clemenceau

    Never speak or write anything you don't want to see on the front page of NYT tomorrow.
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    What was General Mac thinking? That a Rolling Stone freelancer was his buddy, best pal? Fight the damned war, Sir. Leave teh politics to teh poli's.
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  8. #8
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    I thought that he was if nothing else a very clever individual. He's senior enough to be aware of the press and associated risks.

    Either this was a monumental lapse of judgement, or he's thought it through and has a strategy.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    I thought that he was if nothing else a very clever individual. He's senior enough to be aware of the press and associated risks.

    Either this was a monumental lapse of judgement, or he's thought it through and has a strategy.

    With four stars and a sharp mind I can't help but think there is something else behind this. He knows enough not to trust Rolling Stone to provide favorable coverage when he makes these kinds of comments.


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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJaeger View Post
    Edit: I thought I was the only serial editor around here.
    After a couple of minutes' reflection, I de-Panzered my post almost entirely. Although you have done future generations a service by preserving the earlier draft for all time. Cheers.
    Last edited by Lemur; 06-22-2010 at 14:52.
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  11. #11
    Master of Few Words Senior Member KukriKhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    The head of his Chief of Staff should roll.

    Meanwhile, assuming
    there is something else behind this
    , we've seen this movie before, haven't we? All that remains is Country Joe MacDonald, choppers taking off from the roof of the US Embassy, talk of "Peace with Honor", and Afghanistan boat people.

    Q: How long will it take this time to rebuild America's Army?
    Be well. Do good. Keep in touch.

  12. #12
    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    So.... a two term senator, or a C grade ex-alcoholic drug addict was the perfect choice?

    Democracies have specialists to help - all those generals and so on. I believe that the Pentagon has something to do with it.

    Just sitting on a committee for 30 years makes you no better at it than Obama. Even being a general might not work as the picture is way beyond mere warfare.
    Quote Originally Posted by KukriKhan View Post
    Fight the damned war, Sir. Leave teh politics to teh poli's.
    Good posts, bows all round:

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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur View Post
    Last edited by Lemur; Today at 08:52.
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  14. #14
    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by KukriKhan View Post
    and Afghanistan boat people.
    I think it's safe to say, out of all the possible outcomes of this Asian adventure, that this will not happen.
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    Moderator Moderator Gregoshi's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur View Post
    After a couple of minutes' reflection, I de-Panzered my post almost entirely. Although you have done future generations a service by preserving the earlier draft for all time. Cheers.
    Quote Originally Posted by KukriKhan
    Never speak or write anything you don't want to see on the front page of NYT tomorrow.

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    Tuba Son Member Subotan's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Would McCain have done any better?

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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Kukri's right; it was inappropriate for the General to make this remarks in a public setting. The mind boggles at why he said this to a reporter.

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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by KukriKhan View Post
    Q: How long will it take this time to rebuild America's Army?
    Rest assured: If that happens to us again I won't wait for a new Abrams to come along.


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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by KukriKhan View Post
    - Georges Clemenceau

    - KukriKhan

    What was General Mac thinking? That a Rolling Stone freelancer was his buddy, best pal? Fight the damned war, Sir. Leave teh politics to teh poli's.


    Easy to say that Kukri, but hard to do when the government is sticking it's nose in a place where it has no business in going ------ War. Leave the troops alone and let them do their jobs.

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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by |Sith|R|AntiWarmanCake88 View Post
    Easy to say that Kukri, but hard to do when the government is sticking it's nose in a place where it has no business in going ------ War. Leave the troops alone and let them do their jobs.
    Wrests those wrists Kaiser. Save that aggression for the Turks.


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
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  21. #21
    Moderator Moderator Gregoshi's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by |Sith|R|AntiWarmanCake88 View Post
    Easy to say that Kukri, but hard to do when the government is sticking it's nose in a place where it has no business in going ------ War.
    And vis versa.
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Likely.

    Look when you fight an insurgency you never ever make a timetable for withdrawal. Mostly because its a recipe for escalation of violence, why the hell would you make any progress if the insurgents know your about to leave. If you have to make a timetable then keep it private.

    As for mchrystal I find it hard to believe he voted for obama. If so he's one of like 5% of officers. And he needs to shut his mouth and get his aides to shut their mouths when their are news around, they revel in this stuff.

    Overall I don't like many admirals and generals they are always political though petraeus is supposedly different which is why his men love him.

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    Banned ELITEofWARMANGINGERYBREADMEN88's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by Vladimir View Post
    Wrests those wrists Kaiser. Save that aggression for the Turks.
    Which is why I'm only coming on once today .


    Quote Originally Posted by Gregoshi View Post
    And vis versa.
    Agreed, but remember, it is usually the polictiaions fault for causing a nation to lose a war .

  24. #24
    TexMec Senior Member Louis VI the Fat's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    I thought that he was if nothing else a very clever individual. He's senior enough to be aware of the press and associated risks.

    Either this was a monumental lapse of judgement, or he's thought it through and has a strategy.

    Aye, that was my thought too. Is he really that naive to grant so much access to a reporter, to speak his mind this freely, without realising the result?

    Did he sincerely get wobbly knees, regrets? Or is it all exactly to his liking: vent the criticism, then save his own position by backtracking before it is even published?


    Either way, he's done the mission in Afghanistan a disservice.


    As for Obama - Afghanistan is a quagmire. It couldn't be solved before him, nor by him. We mustn't have unrealistic expectations. There was a clear reason to go into Afghanistan, there has never been a clear exit. Or, America couldn't not have gone in, and can not get out.
    In Afghanistan, I haven't seen a decisive mistake by Obama, nor any meaningful policy either.


    Quote Originally Posted by Warman
    it is usually the polictiaions fault for causing a nation to lose a war
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  25. #25

    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    It is interesting that the discussion seems to be focused on whether the general should have made the comments and not on what he said, which seems to be of greater importance. The top commander in Afghanistan sees the president as unprepared and his top men in country as a bunch of stooges. Such a situation does not seem conducive to a successful conclusion.

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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    The content is almost old news. Rumsfeld et al did if possible an even worse job in Iraq.

    Politicians always screw wars up - look at the Crimea for example. Same story then as now.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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  27. #27
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJaeger View Post
    Such a situation does not seem conducive to a successful conclusion.
    Feel free to define "successful conclusion" in terms that can be accomplished in less than a decade.

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJaeger View Post
    It is interesting that the discussion seems to be focused on whether the general should have made the comments
    I, for one, blame the UCMJ, Section 88 for this outrage:

    Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

    Meanwhile, the original article has gone live at the RS website.

    Good analysis here:

    The amazing thing about it is there’s no complaints from McChrystal or his staff about the administration on any substantive ground. After all, McChrystal and his allies won the argument within the White House. All the criticisms — of Eikenberry, of Jones, of Holbrooke, of Biden — are actually just immature and arrogant snipes at how annoying Team America (what, apparently, McChrystal’s crew calls itself) finds them. This is not mission-first, to say the least.

    In fact, you have to go deep in the piece to find soldiers and officers offering actual critiques — and what they offer is criticism of McChrystal for being insufficiently brutal. Everyone of them quoted here is a mini-Ralph Peters, upset because McChrystal won’t let them “get our ******** gun on,” as one puts it. [...] McChrystal is stepping into a diplomatic vacuum and acting as an advocate for Hamid Karzai despite Karzai’s performance in office. [...]

    McChrystal’s apology, emailed to me and other reporters well before the Rolling Stone story dropped, suggests that he wasn’t trying to walk away from his command in a blaze of arrogance. But it’s on him to repair his relationship with his colleagues and his bosses.

    -edit-

    A worthwhile read from Joe Klein:

    Here is the Stanley McChrystal I know: A few months ago, he received an email from a soldier fighting in Kandahar Province. The soldier was frustrated--as most of his comrades are--with the very restrictive rules of engagement that the General had laid down to prevent civilian casualties. Rather than ignore the email or have the trooper reprimanded, McChrystal went to Kandahar and walked a patrol with the soldier's squad. Afterwards, he had a meal with the squad and explained the necessity for the new rules.

    This is an extraordinary man, with the perfect skill set necessary for the mission in Afghanistan: a thorough knowledge of counterinsurgency and deep experience in special operations. 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. [...]

    The opinions he expresses are not surprising to those of us who have covered this war--although his statements about the President are at variance with things McChrystal has told me in the past. As I wrote last week, the backbiting has gotten very intense--on all sides--as the frustrations of the mission mount. What is surprising is his willingness to express these opinions on the record, and that he allows his staff to do the same. The lack of discipline and the disrespect he has shown his Commander-in-Chief are very much at odds with military tradition and practice.
    Last edited by Lemur; 06-22-2010 at 17:21.
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  28. #28

    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    What is surprising is his willingness to express these opinions on the record, and that he allows his staff to do the same. The lack of discipline and the disrespect he has shown his Commander-in-Chief are very much at odds with military tradition and practice.
    At odds with tradition, but I'm not really convinced that his openly speaking his mind is a bad thing. I mean, isn't the military tradition to say nothing while in service, then write a tell all book when you retire?

    Rolling stone is a pretty terrible magazine though.

  29. #29
    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    OK. The conservatives have weighed in on the poll. Time for the left.


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  30. #30

    Default Re: America's Top Commander Exposes Obama Administration Incompetence; Walks It Back

    Cue Lemur with the pushback. True to form, good sir, true to form. It will be interesting to see which narrative takes root - Obama the incompetent wimp or McCrystal the immature, arrogant general looking for a way out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasaki
    At odds with tradition, but I'm not really convinced that his openly speaking his mind is a bad thing. I mean, isn't the military tradition to say nothing while in service, then write a tell all book when you retire?
    I think it depends first of all on whether he voiced his concerns through more traditional avenues first, and second on whether such public statements help or hurt the situation on the ground. It is always risky though, as you never know what the reporter will choose to report or if he/she will represent the situation accurately.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 06-22-2010 at 17:41.

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