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Posted by on Jun 24, 2010 in Politics, Society, War | 0 comments

Quote of the Day: Rumor Spreading After McChrystal Firing Make President’s Point

Our Quote of the Day comes from The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder who writes about rumors that were spread after President Barack Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal:

Beginning in the early afternoon, a cadre of military and civilian soldiers loyal to Gen. Stanley McChrystal began to spread rumors throughout the capital city: that ground commanders in Afghanistan were threatening to resign … that the CIA’s chief of station in Kabul had stepped down … that the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), William McRaven, was irate and wanted to step down … that commanders of the “special mission units” like McRaven’s former subordinates at DevGru (SEAL Team Six) would refuse taskings from the National Command Authority … that buried secrets were about to be exposed, like who actually leaked the McChrystal Afghanistan review to Bob Woodward.

Marc Ambinder is a great reporter as well as a great blogger. And this tidbit of information is shocking. First: the rumors. Secondly, what the rumors say. And thirdly — and most importantly — that they are being spread, suggesting a kind of cult of personality that is often derided in the case of political leaders. Ambinder goes on to say this:

First, though a lot of officers who hitched their careers to McChrystal are indeed quite angry, no one has resigned, the CIA’s station chief remains in place (though he’s quite close to McChrystal) and McRaven isn’t going anywhere. Second, it is meaningful and endearing that so many people are loyal to McChrystal. They revere the man. Third, such behavior, while in one context explicable, is precisely an argument in favor of President Obama’s decision to remove McChrystal. The war is about more than one man. No deviations from the mission are acceptable. There is politics in war, and there are now numerous ways to complain; there is no question that after eight years doing God knows what in service to the country, frustrations had built up. But for those who talked to Rolling Stone, no matter how well-intentioned they were, no matter what they’ve done, their decision to open up to the magazine suggests that they had not learned, or had forgotten, the cardinal rule: your power is a trust that has been established by civilian politicians accountable to voters, and it is maintained by these politicians. No matter how well you’ve done, you will, at the end of the day, be held accountable to those who are held accountable to the republic itself.

And, on this latest tidbit, Ambinder further notes that McChrystal was otherwise considered a role model in several vital ways, a special person with solid qualities that came through in the final moments of his command:

It’s also worth remembering what McChrystal is and was, according to the President, an American hero, someone who contributed immeasurably to our national security and who simply made a bad mistake. And McChrystal recognized his mistake. As Jake Tapper noted, it was McChrystal who made the argument to the White House that he had compromised the mission.

Meanwhile, the irony in all of this continues to be: in terms of policy, McChrystal had seemingly already won most of his argument. That was underscored again by President Barack Obama firmly noting that there would be a change of leadership — not of policy, an assertion that did not site well with liberal radio and cable talk show hosts who had argued that the General needed to get the boot and so did existing policy. Ambinder also has an item that again shows how unreliable much of the speculation an comment that passes for political commentary is these days: despite some suggests McChrystal was aiming for a political career and was a conservative, Ambinder reports, he is a social liberal who banned Fox News from his headquarters..