State of the Union: National Security Adviser Jones Chides McChrystal
From CNN's State of the Union. Looks like some pushback against the Lindsey Grahams of the world from Jim Jones.
President Obama's National Security Adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review now underway, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command."
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands the 100,000 U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, warned bluntly last week in a London speech that a strategy for defeating the Taliban narrower than the one he is advocating would be ineffective and "short-sighted." The comments effectively rejected a policy option that senior White House officials, including Vice President Biden, are seriously considering nearly eight years after the U.S. invasion.
McChrystal's statement came a day after he was challenged by senior White House officials over his dire assessment of the war -- and what it will take to improve the U.S. position there -- during a video conference from Kabul with Obama and his national security team. Obama then summoned McChrystal to Copenhagen the day after the general's speech for a private meeting aboard Air Force One.
Of course no one in the media is bothering to ask why Obama would have promoted the likes of Gen. McChrystal in the first place given his record.
Now the man who greased the chain of command that orchestrated this great deception is prepared to assume total control of US operations in Afghanistan: Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was McChrystal who approved Tillman's posthumous Silver Star, a medal given explicitly for combat, even though he later testified that he "suspected" friendly fire.
Yet despite this, both Democrats and Republicans are rushing to heap praise on McChrystal, including Sen. John McCain. It was McCain who rushed to speak at Tillman's funeral and then, when the cover-up became known, pledged to help the Tillman family expose the truth. McCain later turned his back on the Tillmans when they raised the volume and demanded answers. As Pat's mother, Mary Tillman, said last year, "He definitely eased out of the situation. He didn't blatantly say he wouldn't help us, it's just that it became clear that he kind of drifted away."
And now the Tillman family, amidst bipartisan praise for Obama's new general, must once again raise the inconvenient truth.
What particularly rankles about Obama's choice of McChrystal, whose background is in the nefarious and shadowy world of "black ops," is that his actions in the Tillman cover-up feel emblematic instead of exceptional.
Clearly President Obama is trying to "own" the war in Afghanistan: upping the troop levels, making it his "central front" in the battle against terrorism and now placing his own general in charge. But the president is also disappointing a generation of antiwar activists who voted for him expecting an end to imperial adventures and torture sanctioned by the executive branch. Now a man who should perhaps be on trial at the Hague is in charge of Afghanistan. Obama needs to know it's not just the Tillmans who are enraged by this terrible choice.
Jones was not the only one to push back on the McChrystal PR campaign this week and it seems that a number of informed voices seem to share my concern that McChrystal is “teetering towards insubordination.”
Transcript below the fold.
KING: The president sat down face-to-face with General McChrystal the other day on Air Force One in Europe. Did he express any disappointment that the commander has been so public? Essentially many in Washington think, almost putting the commander in chief in a box by publicly saying, "I need these troops?"
JONES: Well, I wasn't there, and -- and what happened between -- the conversation between the -- and I've not spoken to the president since he talked to him, so I can't comment on the conversation.
KING: Is that an appropriate -- would you act that way as a commander? Do you think -- is it at all unseemly that the men in uniform, and I know, sir, you wore the uniform for many years, that they are out openly campaigning for this one? It's on an open question for the president?
JONES: Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command and I think that General McChrystal and the others in the chain of command will present the president with not just one option, which does, in fact, tend to have a forcing function, but a range of options that the president can consider.
And as I said, and forgive me for repeating myself, troops are a portion of the answer, but not the total answer. It's this coordination that has to...