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Raymond J. Learsy

Raymond J. Learsy

Posted: June 25, 2010 10:01 AM

President Obama's Dismissal of General McChrystal is True to Form

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Much has been written about President Obama's decisive firing of General Stanley A. McChrystal from his command in Afghanistan. Yet it should have come to no one's surprise given an event now near forgotten over a year ago. Minimal in scale compared to the McChrystal affair, it clearly set forth President Obama's visceral understanding of responsibility toward service and his insistence on accountability. Believing it to be instructive to current events am taking the liberty of repeating the post below:

"The Air Force One Fly-Over And The Obama Presidency's New Age Of Accountability
(Posted on HuffingtonPost May 11,2009)

It happened. And it was irksomely stupid. The Air Force One 747 flying low over the still un-rebuilt and raw lower Manhattan. With no warning and fearing the worst, thousands of residents and office workers flooded emergency hot lines, many evacuating their buildings and running into the streets in panic.

All this for a photo shoot authorized by one Louis Caldera director, no less, of the White House Military Office. Here was muddled thinking in bureaucratic guise gone totally off the rails. According to the New York Times "The president, who did not know about the flight before it took place and was described by his aides as infuriated by it, directed his deputy chief of staff... to ensure that such an incident never occurs again."

President Obama acted forcefully as a president should and must when appointees fail egregiously in fulfilling their mandate. Mr. Caldera resigned, or as termed by the New York Times, "the incident cost Mr. Caldera his job".

Thus in one fell swoop, early in his administration, President Obama has returned accountability to the Executive Branch. No more, as with President Bush after Katrina, "heckuva job Brownie," no more George Tenet's lingering on with "slam dunks" after the egregious intelligence failing of 9/11, no more L. Paul Bremer and his disastrous tenure as our proconsul in Iraq, dismissing all Baathists from Government including 15,000 teachers as well as haphazardly dismantling Iraq's Army thereby staffing the pernicious Sunni resistance that followed -- and of course Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose ineffective guidance of our armed forces made a bad situation worse. With each, their major attribute was neither excellence of service nor competence in its own right, but rather fealty to the president. And in the Bush mores of the fraternity house, they were his guys and he was going to stick with them. The nation's needs were a secondary consideration. If competence and success in mission were the criteria for service, these players would have been handed their walking papers much earlier on.

One needs remember the sagacity of Harry Truman. When Truman was about to appoint General George C. Marshall Secretary of State, a staff member cautioned the President, "Sir, you will be dealing with someone who feels he has more experience than you and that he should be president." Truman's response, without hesitation, "He's darn right."

Truman clearly understood that extraordinary competence from those best qualified to serve the nation were his consistent criteria for appointment to high office. Men like George Marshall, Douglas McArthur, General Clay, John J. McCloy, Averill Harriman, Dean Acheson, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Charles Bohlen, Robert Lovett were called to serve and did so brilliantly helping the President and the nation navigate through the turbulent post war years. And when the enormously popular General MacArthur chose a course other than that of his Commander in Chief, Truman had the force of character to call for his resignation.

President Obama, acting without equivocation, has put his administration on notice. Nothing less than competence and dedicated service to the nation is expected. The Bush buddy years are at end. True leadership has retaken the mantle of the presidency. "