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Michael Carmichael Headshot

Memo to Obama: Dismiss McChrystal

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Mr. President:

As you are more than well aware General Stanley McChrystal is a highly decorated soldier who has served America fearlessly and capably for many years. Earlier this year, you appointed General McChrystal to the post of Commander of both the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US Forces Afghanistan.

In his new command, General McChrystal assumed responsibility for a military plan for Afghanistan. In late August, General McChrystal submitted his 66-page confidential report to your Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. Three weeks later, General McChrystal's confidential report leaked to The Washington Post in what some have described as the most egregious leakage of national security documents since the Pentagon Papers.

The stark language and disturbing details in General McChrystal's confidential report shocked the American people, and public support for the war plummeted in its aftermath. Today, less than 40% of American voters support the continuation of the war, and over 50% no longer support the war in Afghanistan.

But the political damage of General McChrystal's confidential report is much worse than that, because these numbers are not static. The popular trend is definitely moving against further US involvement in Afghanistan. In the wake of McChrystal's stunning concatenation of US and Allied failures, a growing majority of Americans now perceive US military involvement in Afghanistan to be a frighteningly familiar déjà vu -- a Vietnamesque predicament.

Since the leakage of his confidential report, General McChrystal has seen fit to make provocative and controversial public statements in a high profile appearance in London at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). During his appearance before the IISS attended by the international press and media, General McChrystal used the term "Chaos-istan" to describe a plan backed by Vice President Biden designed to avoid sinking further into an appalling strategic situation.

During the question and answer session in London, General McChrystal made two dubious statements:

(1) The insurgents will quietly lay down their arms if they are given jobs, and

(2) It will take at least four years for the Afghan security forces to cope with the rapidly deteriorating situation.

At that point in time in 2013, American involvement in Afghanistan will be over three times the length of our involvement in World War II. In the unlikely event that General McChrystal's vague, hopeful and amorphous plan succeeded in stabilizing Afghanistan, there is strong reason to believe that Al Qa'ida will simply move out of Central Asia to a new base of operations in: Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia or the Philippines.

In his 66-page report, General McChrystal exhibited a startling amount of naivete concerning the culture of Afghanistan. For instance, in McChrystal's lamentations that the prison system harbors the most virulent and lethal insurgents, he offered no cogent proposal to rectify that deplorable situation -- other than his ironic scheme to build more prisons -- a formula that will multiply the problem it seeks to eradicate and transform a disaster into a catastrophe.

The General's confidential report is laden with clichés and euphemisms that are utterly devoid of strategic content. In its essence, General McChrystal's report represents the official documentation of mission failure that promised results based on military planning from the Vietnam Era that can be accurately described as escalation into quagmire.

Indeed, during General McChrystal's appearance before the IISS in London, he resorted to a conglomeration of vacuous assertions. The perspicacious General asserted that we, the American and allied forces, need to "respect the people" and "change our mindset" without giving specific recommendations on how to accomplish those hazy objectives.

Many conclusions can be drawn from General McChrystal's report -- but that is not the purpose of this brief memorandum.

Due to General McChrystal's public statements about the war in Afghanistan, it now seems prudent for you as Commander-in-Chief to follow in the footsteps of President Harry Truman in 1951. When General Douglas MacArthur wrote a letter to a Congressman and proposed a reckless escalation of the Korean conflict to broaden the war to China and issued an ultimatum to the government of China, President Truman finally took notice. In effect, General MacArthur attempted to commandeer the power of the president to make foreign policy. When President Truman realized that General MacArthur was insubordinate, he dismissed him. When General McChrystal spoke out in London, he usurped the power of the president to design and execute foreign policy.

Mr. President, it is time for General McChrystal to consider his future. In fact, the General said as much during his public appearance in London, when he stated his hope that his speech would result in lucrative offers of civilian employment.

For these reasons and many others, one thing is perfectly clear.

He's gotta go.

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