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Conservatives start to react to McChrystal story

Conservative military policy analysts are beginning to weigh in on Rolling Stone's profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, which portrays the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan as dismissive and occasionally rude about his civilian leadership in the Obama administration. (Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states that "any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.")

James Carafano, the senior defense policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, is criticizing McChrystal but stopping far short of calling for him to quit.

It is a case of poor judgment on the part of the general and his staff to air comments on the character of senior civilian leaders to a reporter, but both the White House and the brass need to put this media gaff aside and focus on the real problem – destroying al Qaeda, defeating the Taliban and helping establish an Afghanistan that can govern itself.

Victor Davis Hanson, the National Review writer and omnipresent commentator on military matters, is less forgiving.

Those who cannot do so in good conscience resign; those who choose to stay, but snipe to the media, at some point will have to. The system works, and when high-profile officers go to the media to undermine their overseers (e.g., George McClellan, Douglas MacArthur), it starts to unwind.

Hanson is critical of Rolling Stone itself, suggesting that McChrystal never should have talked to the magazine. But this comes eight months after McChrystal criticized Vice President Joe Biden's plan for Afghanistan (not the one the administration went with) as "short-sighted." Put simply: National security conservatives support what McChrystal is doing and are not calling on him to take a fall here.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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