Joe Klein writes about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a man he knows well:
A few months ago, (McChrystal) 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.
Joe says McChrystal is an extraordinary man, and a great fighter, but he comes to the sad conclusion that McChrystal has to go, in part because he resolutely fails to understand the media environment in which he operates, but in larger part because he has been disrespectful to the commander-in-chief. I have to agree, particularly with the second half. I remember once in Iraq being made to feel profoundly uncomfortable by an Army colonel who was openly scornful of President Bush's tactical leadership of the war effort (this was well-before the surge). I didn't disagree with his analysis one bit, but I thought it was deeply inappropriate, and even nervous-making, to hear a senior military leader disparaging his commander. Civilian control of the military is a paramount American virtue, and anyone who undermines this core principle is unfit to serve. There's no way around this fundamental fact, unfortunately.