The general is meeting with Obama now:

The White House has asked the Pentagon to make a list of possible replacements for Gen. Stanley McChrystal because President Barack Obama wants to be ready if he decides to fire the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday.

McChrystal is unlikely to survive the fallout from remarks he made about colleagues in a magazine profile to be published Friday, a Pentagon source who has ongoing contacts with the general told CNN earlier.

Few expect him to walk away from this meeting with his job despite a heroic record of service. Eliot A. Cohen wraps it up pretty well in Why McChrystal Has to Go:

Gen. McChrystal’s just-published interview in Rolling Stone magazine is an appalling violation of norms of civilian-military relations. To read it is to wince, repeatedly—at the mockery of the vice president and the president’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the sniping directed toward the U.S. ambassador, at a member of his staff who, when asked whom the general was having dinner with in Paris said, “Some French minister. It’s so [expletive deleted] gay.” The quotes from Gen. McChrystal’s underlings bespeak a staff so clueless, swaggering and out of control that a wholesale purge looks to be indicated.

That he and his staff would think and say these things – privately – is not the least bit surprising. However, allowing this behavior to occur over an extended period of time in the presence of a journalist is actually pretty shocking. It’s also a bit surprising that McChrystal expressed no concern or regret to Rolling Stone after his pre-publication review of the piece. Perhaps he saw it coming and was resigned to his fate. It’s impossible to know what the general was thinking (at least until the book comes out) but I think Joe Klein probably has it right:

This is an extraordinary man, with the perfect skill set necessary for the mission in Afghanistan: a thorough knowledge of counterinsurgency and deep experience in special operations. But there is another side to McChrystal: he is so focused on his real job that he hasn’t spent sufficient time learning how to play the public relations game. He speaks his mind; in private conversations, I’ve found, he is incapable of fudging the truth. This leads to a certain myopia, an innocence regarding the not-so-brave new world of the media. He spoke his mind during a question and answer session in London last autumn, expressing his skepticism about Vice President Biden’s preference for a smaller force in Afghanistan, with a heavy emphasis on special operations. And now he has been caught by a Rolling Stone reporter, speaking his mind on a number of subjects.

Of course, there is a significant difference between speaking one’s mind and insubordination and McChrystal and his staff have strayed – well, charged – into the latter. The resulting fallout will have an impact far beyond the personalities involved and may be one of the defining moments of this war.


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