The Taliban won the opening skirmish of Operation Kandahar and the first casualty was a respected American general falling on his sword. The resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been greeted by the Taliban as a victory, and an indictment of a failed American war strategy in Afghanistan.
Obama had no choice about keeping McChrystal in command, despite Afghani leaders’ support. McChrystal’s military career is a credit to the man and his country, but his statements, and those of his staff, were clearly insubordination. The rules of command structure and authority, strict and merciless, were transgressed and consequences resulted.
The most public consequence is the end of an honorable military career. Welcome home General, because many Americans believe your statements and those of your staff were in reaction to an ill-conceived Obama war-fighting campaign and rules of engagement doomed to failure.
Military and public morale have taken a serious hit. Our troops on the line are rattled by the command shakeup and public opinion more doubtful of a victorious outcome in Afghanistan. Operation Kandahar promises to be the bloodiest campaign of the war, the Marjah operation is bogged down and casualties are mounting. It has become America’s longest war in history.
Obama says the goal in Afghanistan is to defeat the Taliban, but he has no stomach for the military action necessary to accomplish it. McChrystal’s very public statements to make this point cannot be excused, but his sacrifice to do so should not be ignored. The soldiers poised before a meat grinder are my nephew, your sons, daughters and siblings—and McChrystal’s combatants-at-arms.
When I last talked with my nephew, he said he believed, as many of our military do, that putting his life on the line to destroy terrorists who attacked the United States is the right thing to do. A military force with that attitude can defeat any enemy, but they must be allowed to fight to win.
McChrystal understands this truth and we must not misunderstand why he resigned.
George Will weighs in on the implications behind McChrystal’s resignation.