Cal  Thomas

The World War II slogan "Loose Lips Sink Ships," which was intended to encourage Americans to keep quiet about any information pertaining to that war, could also apply to modern generals and their staffs.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal's mistake was not indulging in -- and allowing his aides to indulge in -- locker room guy talk; his "mistake in judgment" was allowing a writer for the far-left, anti-war magazine, "Rolling Stone" apparently unrestricted and prolonged access to him and his aides. A liberal White House won't allow access by conservative writers to its deliberations and application of its Saul Alinsky-like redistribution of wealth philosophy.

Rich Galen was a press secretary to former vice president Dan Quayle when he was a congressman and senator and to Newt Gingrich when he was House Republican Whip. In 1996, Galen then became the communications director of the political office of Speaker Gingrich. On his "Mullings" blog, he writes of his "excellent association with reporters" because he says he adhered to three rules: 1) I have never sold out my boss to curry favor with the press; 2) I have never lied to the press to protect my boss; 3) If I don't know an answer, I say so. I don't pretend to be on the 'inside' of every discussion ever held in Washington." Gen. McChrystal obviously disregarded rule one.

Galen thinks McChrystal deserved to be fired, even though only one rather innocuous quote was attributed to him in the Rolling Stone article. The rest are more serious comments by unnamed aides. The bigger question is: who set up this interview and what was that person's motive? When will that person be fired?

McChrystal's predicament is partially about the chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which spells out insubordination as a firing offense. Mostly, though, it is about whether this war is winnable and the consequences for the United States and Afghanistan if it is not.

America's failure to win the Vietnam War did not bring the consequences many had predicted, except to the Vietnamese. Today, capitalism seems to be growing in Vietnam, though other freedoms remain restricted.

Losing in Afghanistan, however, would have severe costs for America. The planning center for September 11, 2001 would be reinvigorated. Recruiting for more homicide bombers would be easier. The radical Muslim world would be convinced that "Allah" truly is on their side against "The Great Satan." Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would see defeat as proof that his god wants him to proceed with his announced plans to usher in "Armageddon" by possibly launching a nuclear attack against Israel.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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