In confiding to Rolling Stone their unflattering opinions of the military acumen of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, Dick Holbrooke and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff were guilty of colossal stupidity.
And President Obama had cause to cashier them. Yet his decision to fire McChrystal may prove both unwise and costly.
For McChrystal, unlike Gen. MacArthur, never challenged the war policy -- he is carrying it out -- and Barack Obama is no Harry Truman.
Moreover, the war strategy Obama is pursuing is the McChrystal Plan, devised by the general and being implemented by the general in Marja and Kandahar, perhaps the decisive campaign of the war.
Should that plan now fail, full responsibility falls on Obama.
He has made the Afghan war his war in a way it never was before.
If the McChrystal strategy fails, critics will charge Obama with causing the defeat by firing the best fighting general in the Army out of pique over some officers-club remarks that bruised the egos of West Wing warriors.
And though those remarks never should have appeared in print, they may well reflect the sentiments of not a few soldiers and Marine officers on third and fourth tours of duty in the Afghan theater.
Had Obama, instead of firing McChrystal, told him to shut up, can the interviews and go back to fighting the war until the December review of strategy, he could have shown those soldiers he is a bigger man than they or McChrystal's team give him credit for.
And if success in Afghanistan is the highest goal, how does it help to fire the best fighting general? Do you relieve Gen. Patton during combat because he vents his prejudices or opinions?
This city may draw the parallel, but the Obama-McChrystal clash does not remotely rise to the historic level of the collision between MacArthur and Truman.
Truman had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered the airlift that broke the Berlin blockade, and produced the Marshall Plan and NATO. He had won election in his own right with a legendary comeback in 1948.
Obama has nothing like Truman's credibility as a war leader.
And MacArthur was the most famous U.S. soldier since Gen. Grant. No. 1 at West Point, he was a legendary commander in France in 1918, leading troops out of the trenches with a swagger stick.
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