Even before President Obama’s announcement on Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s fate, top former Defense and State Department officials from the Bush administration said the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan should be relieved of command.
“After this I don’t see how he could have stayed on, frankly,” Eric Edelman, the number three official at the Pentagon from 2005 to 2009, told The Daily Caller.
“This is a real tragedy because Stan McChrystal is an incredibly capable officer who is a real hero in my book for what he did in Iraq and Afghanistan as the [Joint Special Operations Command] commander,” Edelman said. “He’s one of the more capable officers I knew during my time at the Pentagon.”
But Edelman, whose title was undersecretary of defense for policy, said that the Rolling Stone article that exploded into the news cycle Tuesday morning “suggests that a command climate had been created that allowed people around the general, without him correcting them, to say in front of — I’m sorry to say — a journalist things that were disrespectful of a civilian chain of command.”
“And whatever they might think, that’s not something they’re supposed to do,” he said.
“Suggesting that the president of the United States is intimidated by his military officers, that he wasn’t ready to be the commander, the suggestions that come directly from Stan in the article are that he was measuring the president and found him wanting,” Edelman said. “That may not be wrong. But it’s intolerable for a military commander who serves ultimately at the pleasure of the president and commander of chief … to let that become part of the public record.”
In Wednesday morning’s Wall Street Journal, a former top adviser to Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also argued that McChrystal should be fired.
“It is intolerable for officers to publicly criticize or mock senior political figures, including the vice president or the ambassador (who is, after all, the president’s personal representative to a foreign government),” wrote Eliot Cohen, now a professor at Johns Hopskins School of Advanced International Studies.
“It is intolerable for them to publicly ridicule allies. And quite apart from his own indiscretions, it is the job of a commanding general to set a tone that makes such behavior unacceptable on the part of his subordinates,” Cohen wrote.