What to do with big-mouth generals
One can reduce McChrystal to a towel-snapping jock
and demand his departure. One can say he’s not the equivalent of Douglas MacArthur and then compare him to Douglas MacArthur.
Or one can take a deep breath and say his remarks were stupid and yet he shouldn’t be fired
because we’re in a God damned war. The last option is the best approach. It also takes into consideration the fact we already have too many generals afraid to speak their minds in private or in public. Who would you rather have? Tommy Franks or Stanley McChrystal? You’ll get more of the former if the current controversy isn’t handled right.
Memo to American generals: Please, no fancy commissions or war-college white papers to determine the fine line between obedience to civilian leaders and obedience to conscience. It’s rather simple:
-- No public criticism of the civilian leadership during time of war.*
-- Criticism is encouraged and valued when conducted in private or demanded by Congress.
-- Obey the agreed upon orders – or resign and speak up.
* Note: Public questioning of war policy is a firing offense (i.e., the Douglas MacArthur lesson); stupid and petty public criticism/remarks/acts are a reprimand offense (i.e. the George Patton-Stan McChrystal lesson); too many reprimands can lead to firing (the Straw That Broke the Camel's Back lesson in most jobs).