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Obama weighing politics and military reality on McChrystal

By Michael D. Shear
Any moment now, President Obama will make a decision in a situation that presented him with no good choices. The politics may be good, but the military reality is bad.

If his decision is to fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the president stands to benefit politically, taking a decisive action that may improve his image as a can-do politician who is not willing to be pushed around.

That benefit is more clear, given the cover that Obama has received in the last 24 hours from members of Congress and others, in both parties, who have largely failed to come to the general's defense.

"It's the president's decision," has been the refrain. And so the White House advisers around Obama can feel fairly secure that Obama will not have partisan critics attacking him if he fires the general.

On the other hand, firing McChrystal poses serious military consequences, none of them good for the fierce fighting in the days ahead.

Pulling McChrystal out of the battlefield means yanking out the architect of the strategy that Obama adopted last December, and removing the man who has become its greatest advocate among soldiers, lawmakers and allies.

The general is not irreplaceable -- as press secretary Robert Gibbs noted Tuesday. But that doesn't mean that removing him won't send ripples across the 100,000 members of the military fighting there, raising questions about the government's commitment to the strategy.

Leaving him in, however, is also fraught with military problems, not the least of which is how to assert the rules of the military against insubordination and respect for chain of command if the general gets away with it.

The White House appears to be preparing for a Rose Garden announcement within the hour, so we should know soon.

By Michael D. Shear  |  June 23, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
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As a 20 years Marine I do support the President in his decision due to insubordination regardless. However the President himself sends mixed signals. He wants the Military to toe the line with regards to Military protocol but when it comes to his own people it doesn't matter. Like Timothy Geithner evaded paying his TAXES yet that was OK because we needed him for the position. The message I derive from that is if my superiors can do it then so can I. So if I evaded my taxes I should be able to point to Geithner and say he was allowed to do it why can't I correct? I'm just saying.

Posted by: tdoughboy | June 24, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama views everything through prism of politics first. Notice that Helen Thomas wasn't fired until the politics required it. Luckily for him he got a real quick read on McChrystal. Most political president ever.

Posted by: herb3 | June 24, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

One big difference between McChrystal and Obama;
General wants to be in Afghanistan and Obama doesn't want to, but neither of them knows why are our Armed Forces there. Same thing is for Iraq. However, bye bye McChrystal, you don't deserve the honour to command our sons and daughters.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | June 23, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

June 23, 2010 10:40 a.m.

Bishop Walter Dixon’s Official Live Video Press Release to President Barack Obama regarding General Stanley McChrystal Inappropriate Comments to Rolling Stone Magazine and prior adverse comments

Dear President Obama

I have reviewed all of General Stanley Mc Chrystal’s current and prior comments made to Rolling Stone Magazine and other adverse comments made to reporters of the past.

It is no doubt in my mind General Stanley Mc Chrystal should have learn his lesson about being a team member during your conversation with him on Air force One several months ago.

In order for anyone to be a team member there must be loyalty, trust, open communication and when there are differences such issue should be discussed in private and not through the media.

General McChrystal should have known better and never should have made the comments against you or any member of your administration especially against Vice President Biden.

In my humble opinion General McChrystal must be fired. As President and Commander and Chief of the United States Military Arms Services, you must set an example letting your administration know you will not tolerate such behavior from your senior, executive, middle or lower management level.

General McChrystal placed himself in this position and you gave him a chance to remain a part of your executive military staff when you did not fire him involving his remarks against Vice President Biden.

If I were you, I would make it simple, fast and easy by saying these three words. You are fired!

As a tax payer and supporter of you and your administration, I will support your decision regardless of my recommendation.

Bishop Walter Dixon
P.O. Box 832161
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
cc. Media, Face book, Google, MySpace and YouTube.

Posted by: bishopwldixon | June 23, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

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