Are any of those plausible actions worth the risk of losing the war in Afghanistan?
It isn't that McChrystal was the indispensible man. Replacing him with United States Central Command leader Gen. David Petraeus was the president's best option after deciding to relieve McChrystal. But President Obama did select McChrystal to lead the effort to defeat the Taliban and so any "errors in judgment" should not be limited to Gen. McChrystal. If the president picked the "wrong man," what does that say about his judgment?
All of these -- and other -- questions will be forgotten if the U.S. prevails in Afghanistan by establishing a sustainable democratic government that is relatively free of corruption (a herculean task) and can be converted from an opium-based economy to one that can take advantage of its enormous mineral resources.
To win in Afghanistan, and make such things possible, our "rules of engagement" must change. American casualties have increased because of self-imposed restraints when encountering Taliban who hide behind civilians. You can't win a war by hesitating when the enemy is at a disadvantage. To paraphrase a familiar admonition: grab them by their throats and their hearts and minds will follow.
McChrystal seemed to be making progress in the shooting war. He failed by shooting off his mouth. But if everyone who has ever said a disparaging word about his or her boss were fired, no one would have a job.
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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