If McChrystal is wrong, fire him; if not, shut up

Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows
when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both
superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit
throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy
unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Obama administration is making a huge mistake in fighting out an internal dispute over Afghanistan strategy on Sunday talk shows. National Security Adviser James Jones undercut the position of the general in the field, Stanley McChrystal, with his statement that:

…the end is much more complex than just about adding ‘X’ number of troops…But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.”

If that is the position of the administration, then the correct course of action is not to fight it out in public, undermining the “spirit of the army” and further eroding public support for a war that last fall as a candidate President Obama said must be won.

If McChrystal is wrong and there is a better man with a better plan, then Obama should take the Truman approach and fire him. That approach achieved Truman’s objectives in Korea – containment of Communism and 50 years of stability on the Korean peninsula.

If there is doubt and dissension in the civilian administration and it’s not clear from this side of the globe whether McChrystal is right or wrong, then Obama should take the word of his commander in the field, possibly firing the civilian advisors, provide the military capacity that’s needed and not micromanage. That approach is a time tested path to victory.

Either of those decisions is a potential war winner and the action of a decisive Commander in Chief. Airing the military advisors’ dirty laundry on television is the Vietnam Strategy and bound to lead to defeat in a country that is already notorious for defeating the Soviet Army.

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