I’m not impressed with those who think that McChrystal had to go. Nor am I convinced that it was wrong to fire him. Doesn’t parse, you say? Give me two short graphs.
1. The president could have chosen to ignore a magazine article if he wanted to. He chose to escalate and assert his authority. He’s entitled, but not compelled. He could have picked up the phone and ordered McC to fire those fools who spilled their guts to the journalist. And then he could have told the general to shut up and win the war.
2. There’s an important pony in that pile of manure, which is that there are at least two wars under way: the real war in the Middle East, and the war among the president’s men and women. Nothing new there, it’s in the nature of modern politics. It’s up to the president and his national security adviser to impose discipline on this ugly process, and they aren’t doing it well at the moment. The firing of McChrystal might be a useful first step in getting a grip on it. But only if there are further steps. General Jones may be too nice a guy to run this bureaucracy, and General Eikenberry was, in my view, a bad choice for ambassador to Afghanistan.
Convinced? Well, then, let’s go one more: The region is bubbling, lots of it (including Afghanistan) due to Iran, and we still have no Iran policy. Dennis Ross doesn’t seem to have one. While we’re purging, send him back to the lecture circuit and find someone who sees the war plain, and can wage political war on the mullahs.