Saturday, October 10, 2009


Slate has a piece comparing the current controversy regarding Obama and McChrystal to that of Truman and MacArthur. The author is careful--making sure that we do not think that the two situations are the same, but rather arguing that the past constrains the present. Different interpretations of the MacArthur firing by left and right affect today's discourse, and the supposed unwillingness of civilians to really buck the military.

I think the comparison is wildly over-drawn. McChrystal made one comment in a Q&A, aimed more at Biden perhaps than Obama, and the leaks of the review are not that surprising. Obama has had the military inside the room at all times--Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen and Central Commander Gen. Petraeus. The question at hand is really a political one right now--given the shaky legitimacy of Karzai's government, the question is really whether 40,000 or 60,000 additional troops will buy enough space for the Afghan government to get into some sort of shape?

Obama clearly has a difficult call to make. The Republicans are attacking him because it is another opportunity to attack him. The left is opposed to any more war. So, yes, Obama is in a tough spot, but doing due diligence is the proper way to go.

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