June 23, 2010

CLAUDIA ROSETT: Getting To Know The General:

Rolling Stone’s piece on The Runaway General hit the web, and presto! before the print edition was even on the newsstands, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was ordered back to Washington for a sitdown with President Obama. If only Obama had been as eager to clear time on his calendar for McChrystal back in 2009. That’s when really getting to know the general — the man entrusted with winning the war in Afghanistan — should have been one of the top priorities of the new president.

I’m not suggesting that with earlier close acquaintance Obama might have spotted the seeds of McChrystal’s “enormous mistake” — as White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described it at press briefing Tuesday. I’m suggesting that better leadership from Obama himself would have averted this mess altogether. Whatever comes next for McChrystal, the biggest lesson here is one the commander-in-chief himself has yet to master.

Since Obama removed Gen. McKiernan from command and replaced him with McChrystal — an unusual move — it would have behooved him to know what he was doing. It makes things a bit awkward now.

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