At a close door cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Barack Obama flatly rejected deceitful comments made by his top general in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who heads the war in that country against the Taliban, was quoted in saying in Rolling Stone magazine that Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” at a meeting with his top generals when he first took office. McChrystal went on to launch a blistering assault on the civilian authorities of the Obama administration, especially Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Obama’s top diplomat in Kabul. According to Associated Pres, McChrystal “accused Eikenberry of raising doubts about the reliability of Afghan President Hamid Karzai only to give himself cover in case the U.S. effort failed.”
Reports out of Washington confirm that Gen. Stanley McChrystal is preparing to submit his resignation at a meeting with Obama on Wednesday at the White House. This news was leaked in the media by two military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Obama summoned McChrystal to the White House to clarify those disturbing comments that have since triggered a political firestorm in Washington. The man, who was once considered the war’s brightest hope, is now crowned as the engineer of the biggest political embarrassment for president Obama. But this latest crisis is by no means a political blunder; it is rather the raw expression of what those hawkish generals in the US military think of Obama—an aloof character with no sound knowledge of war planning.
Many observers believe if McChrystal’s comments are not synonyms to insubordination, they are clearly an indirect challenge to civilian management of the war in Afghanistan. Trying to water down the rhetoric, Obama was forced to carefully choose his words while describing the general’s comments. “I think it’s clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed a poor judgment, but I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions,” the president said.
The eruption comes at the worst of time. It comes at a time when the public support for the war is at its lowest point. Recent surveys showed that a majority of Americans now say the war is probably not worth fighting.
According to AP, in the article, McChrystal did not criticize Obama directly “but called the period last fall when Obama was deciding whether to approve more troops ‘painful’ and said the president was handing him an ‘unsellable’ position.” McChrystal also said he was “betrayed” by Eikenberry, and he accused him of raising doubts about the reliability of Afghan President Hamid Karzai only to give himself cover in case the U.S. effort failed. “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.’” And in an attempt to belittle Obama’s civilian authorities, the general went on to make jokes on Vice President Joe Biden’s name, saying he doesn’t recognize him.