Just Fade Away
The Runaway General
No president can afford to let the military run roughshod over them. And yet, Democrats seem to have this problem fairly frequently, since Roosevelt at least, because the officer corps is rife with right wing Republicans who simply don't feel they shoulod have to answer to a DFH. It's one of the great underlying dangers of our political system and one which has, so far, been handled fairly deftly by each president who has confronted the threat.
The most famous one, of course, is General MacArthur who wrote a letter at the height of the Korean conflict criticizing Truman's war plans with words that I'm sure most of us will find awfully familiar:
It seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in Asia is where the Communist conspirators have elected to make their play for global conquest, and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield; that here we fight Europe’s war with arms while the diplomats there still fight it with words; that if we lose the war to communism in Asia the fall of Europe is inevitable, win it and Europe most probably would avoid war and yet preserve freedom. As you pointed out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.
All the military experts said it wasn't insubordination. Truman fired him the next day --- and faced a full blown hissy fit and crazed right wing overreaction. Indeed, everyone assumed that MacArthur would face him in the election and win handily.
But he did the right thing by preserving the constitutional order. As with McCrystal, it wasn't MacArthur's first transgression of the line of authority. It was a brave thing to do politically, but he did it and took the hit with the public who adored MacArthur --- and ended up being vindicated by history.
If McCrystal has any integrity he will resign and Obama will accept it. If he doesn't then Obama should fire him. This habit of running end runs around the president as he did last fall with his words in London and now this makes it imperative that he go.
And it's also imperative that the US Military get its act together. Something's gone very wrong when you've got a General and a cabal of backstabbing aides running their mouths to Rolling Stone Magazine. If they speak that way to the press, what in the hell are they saying to politicians and foreign leaders they deal with overseas?