General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, gave a speech in London last week warning that rejecting his request for more troops and adopting a narrower strategy than the one he recommends would be "shortsighted." President Obama, who is still mulling what to do in Afghanistan, promptly called McChrystal to his side to remind him who's in charge. Should the General learn to be more discreet, as Cynthia Tucker in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested?
The General is right: "Democrats have found someone worth fighting in Afghanistan"—Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. McChrystal's "innocuous" observation that we have to act quickly to win in Aghanistan did not deserve to be condemned, yet the national security advisor and the defense secretary "both suggested that the general should keep his mouth shut."
Obama is not the General's whipping dog: "How to proceed in Afghanistan will be among the most difficult and fateful decisions" Obama ever makes, says Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, but it would be "dereliction of duty" for the president not to consider alternatives to McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops. It's Obama's decision: "The men with the stars on their shoulders—and I say this with enormous respect for their patriotism and service—need to shut up and salute."
The two power brokers need to reach consensus: Gen. Stanley McChrystal is not, at this point, "a conscious dissident," said Fred Kaplan in Slate, but he clearly thinks the pared-down counterinsurgency strategy being pushed by Vice President Joe Biden is a bad idea. McChrystal's public pronouncement and subsequent rebuke "fall nowhere near the realm of a constitutional crisis," but there could be real tensions down the road if the president chooses a path his generals think leads to trouble.