When President Obama and his political team were scrambling to figure out whether it was safe to ditch General Stanley McChrystal as head of the president’s occupation of Afghanistan, one of the savviest members of Congress when it comes to issues involving civilian control of the military was already providing sound assessment.
While other leading Democrats deferred to the president, House Appropriations Committee chair David Obey, D-Wisconsin, minced no words.
The committee chairman who oversees funding of the military – and who has delayed action on the administration’s request for a massive “emergency” increase in funding of the Afghanistan occupation — issued an immediate call for the removal of the general.
“In recent history — which runs from (Korean War) General MacArthur, to (Vietnam War) General LeMay, to General McChrystal, we have seen a long list of reckless, renegade generals who haven’t seemed to understand that their role is to implement policy, not design it," Obey explained. "General McChrystal’s comments are not the first time we’ve seen a General contemptuous of his civilian superiors. It isn’t even the first time we’ve seen this General be contemptuous. But his comments, and those of his subordinates, dismissing the President, the Vice-President, General Jones, Ambassador Eikenberry, and Richard Holbrooke suggests that General McChrystal is locked into an ‘everybody is wrong but me’ approach to the world.”
Obey continued: "In apologizing this morning, McChrystal said his comments were ‘a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.’ I couldn’t have said it better myself. Anybody, including a U.S. Army General, is entitled to making a damn fool of themselves once. But General McChrystal hasn’t appeared to learn from his mistakes.
"His repeated contempt for the civilian chain of command demonstrates a bull headed refusal to take other people’s judgments into consideration. That is damn dangerous in somebody whose decisions determine life and death for American troops and others in the region.