No More Military General Pronouncements
James Jones has cordially invited Gen. Stanley McChrystal to shove it.
National security adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review underway, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command."
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands the 100,000 U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, warned bluntly last week in a London speech that a strategy for defeating the Taliban that is narrower than the one he is advocating would be ineffective and "short-sighted." The comments effectively rejected a policy option that senior White House officials, including Vice President Biden, are considering nearly eight years after the U.S. invasion.
McChrystal's statement came a day after senior White House officials challenged him over his dire assessment of the war, and what it will take to improve the U.S. position there, during a videoconference from Kabul with President Obama and his national security team. Obama then summoned McChrystal to Copenhagen the day after the general's speech for a private meeting aboard Air Force One.
We're simply unused to the chain of command predominating in this day and age, but there really was a time where military commanders didn't make public statements about strategy and troop requests. And Jones is right in wishing for that time to return. While some don't see McChrystal's statements as objectionable, and certainly they aren't a prelude to a coup or anything, because of our military conferring hero status on generals they are overweighted in the debate, and have a tendency to place Presidents in a box should they want to disagree. That's what has angered people, Jones included.
Meanwhile, this WaPo piece offers a lot of good thoughts about the problems in Afghanistan - particularly with respect to jobs. I don't know if the country facing 10% unemployment should be seen as a savior in this regard.