Dissents Of The Day

A reader writes:

No, it is not McChrystal’s job to bend to political pressure. It is his job to give the best military advice he can and if the President chooses not to follow that advice he should have the option to resign. This is not about challenging civilian control or exacting political damage. It’s about doing what he thinks is right and accepting the consequences. This is exactly the problem we had in the beginning with Iraq. Nobody was willing to tell the President what he needed to hear.

My point was that leaking this report and advertizing in advance that he will resign if the president doesn't adopt it goes way beyond what my reader suggests. What I dislike is the public posturing from a senior military figure as a way to advance what he believes is a political resolution. Another reader:

You think McChrystal's job is to "bend to political pressure." What a thoroughly asinine statement. It is certainly true that generals are beholden to civilian authority, but at the moment we are committed in Afghanistan and his job is to think in terms of stabilizing the region. Until and unless Obama decides to get out of Afghanistan ASAP, that is exactly what he is supposed to be doing.

In addition, all of your recent writing on this seems to ignore the obvious fact that Obama campaigned on seeing through Afghanistan while cutting down on our presence in Iraq. Are you ever going to reconcile this, or are you going to settle for your obligatory ranting about neocons? The position Obama campaigned on is not your own. Stop pretending otherwise.

I favored the war in Afghanistan and would still if the war had not been so badly botched and if I could see a way to achieve our goals at a reasonable expense within a reasonable time-frame. But it seems clear to me that a decades-long occupation is not what was intended in the first place, and increasingly bears little relationship to the actual threat.

Moreover, the notion that a position on a war should remain exactly the same - throughout eight years of failure - seems to me to be bizarre. Only ideologues committed to a priori support have the luxury of such a position. Certainly the war in Afghanistan was a war of necessity as opposed to the war in Iraq, which was proven unnecessary, because its core rationale was destroyed within a few months of the invasion. But no one has to sustain a war that is now twice as long as the Second World War if the results of the summer campaign, the exposure of deep corruption in Kabul and the use of Pakistan as a refuge make it a largely impossible endeavor.