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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 11/21/09

McChrystal to Obama: Fogh You; McChrystal Testing the Limits

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It is not too late for President Barack Obama to follow the example of Harry Truman, who fired Gen. Douglas McArthur in 1951 for insubordination. Then, as now, the stakes were high. Then it was Korea; now it is Afghanistan.

No more slaps on the wrist for Gen. Stanley McChrystal. In my view, Commander-in-Chief Obama should fire him for cause.

Then

In the Truman-McArthur showdown nearly six decades ago, the President and his senior advisers were preparing to engage North Korea and China in peace negotiations, when MacArthur, commander of the U.N. forces in Korea, issued an unauthorized statement containing a veiled threat to expand the war into China.

McArthur had been playing a back-channel game to win the support of like-minded Republican congressmen to widen the war, when Truman faced him down. With the backing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the secretaries of state and defense, he rose to the occasion and fired the distinguished "old soldier."

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Now

Today, Gen. McChrystal is conducting a subtler but equally insubordinate campaign for wider war in Afghanistan, with the backing of CENTCOM commander David Petraeus. It is now even clearer in retrospect that the President should not have appointed McChrystal in the first place, given what was already known of his role in covering up the killing of football star Pat Tillman and condoning the torture practices by troops under McChrystal's earlier command in Iraq.

Two months ago when McChrystal became more and more outspoken about what he considered the best approach to the Afghanistan war, policy discussions were under way in Washington to help the President make enlightened policy choices among the various views and possibilities. Since decisions were (are?) still pending, and since McChrystal's private input was already part of the mix, he was clearly out of line in going public at so sensitive a time.

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Senior generals know better than to do that; there is little doubt his outspokenness was deliberate. McChrystal should meet the same fate as McArthur, and "silently steal away." Obama should have taken the telegenic general to the woodshed instead of inviting him to confer quietly on Air Force One.

McChrystal to Obama: Fogh You

McChrystal's continuing defiance shines through in the gratuitous remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a NATO meeting on Nov. 17 in Edinburgh. Siding clearly with McChrystal, Petraeus, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen in the intense debate over sending more forces to Afghanistan, Rasmussen blithely announced that NATO countries will soon order "substantially more forces" there.

Rasmussen promised "new momentum" behind the military campaign, adding, "I'm confident it will be a counter-insurgency approach," which is what McChrystal says he needs 40,000 additional American troops to undertake.

But here's the thing: Rasmussen's past behavior makes it abundantly clear that, on such matters, the only tea leaves he reads are the ones given him by those he concludes wield the real power in Washington. Besides, he was one of George W. Bush's best buddies in the days of "shock and awe."

Something Rotten in Denmark

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As Denmark's Prime Minister (2001-2009), Anders Fogh Rasmussen was one of George W. Bush's most sycophantic supporters—particularly when it came to the war on Iraq. Although amply warned by Danish intelligence officers of the deceptive nature of the U.S. case for war, he shunned them and outdid himself cheerleading for war.

For example, while Danish intelligence professionals told then-Prime Minister Rasmussen there was very little evidence that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction," he decided to take his cue from the neo-cons in Washington. On the day before the invasion of Iraq he told the Danish Parliament:

"Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know."

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 
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