Fate of McChrystal in doubt
JAKNEWS.COM---President Barack Obama said he would decide whether to fire the top U.S. general in Afghanistan after they meet on Wednesday (23/6), citing Stanley McChrystal's "poor judgment" in an article that mocked Obama's senior advisers.
The decision is fraught with risk for Obama, who faces the difficult choice of shaking up command of an unpopular and costly war just six months after ordering 30,000 more troops into the fight against the Taliban.
McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan and architect of Obama's war strategy, was summoned back to Washington to explain his "enormous mistake" to the president, the White House said.
Obama's spokesman said "all options were on the table" but the president stressed he wanted to speak to McChrystal first.
"I think it is clear that the article in which he and his team appear showed poor judgment ... but I also want to make sure I talk to him directly before I make any final decision," said Obama, speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting.
U.S. officials said they expected McChrystal to offer his resignation and allow Obama to decide whether to accept it.
The 55-year-old commander has apologized for the article in Rolling Stone magazine, which quotes his aides calling one top Obama official a "clown" and another a "wounded animal."
In the article "The Runaway General" -- http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/119236 -- McChrystal himself makes belittling remarks about Vice President Joe Biden and the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.
McChrystal's departure would add to already growing uncertainty about the course of the nine-year-war just one year after his predecessor, General David McKiernan, was pushed out of the same job.
The controversy could also weaken Obama, either making him look soft on insubordination if he lets McChrystal stay or potentially irresponsible if he fires the top general leading an already difficult war effort.
"The White House has to make it pretty tough on (McChrystal) because he was clearly insubordinate. Then they have to decide what to do with him," said a senior Obama administration official. "It's a real dilemma."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama became "angry" when he saw the article, due to be published in Rolling Stone on Friday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said McChrystal had "made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment." Admiral Mike Mullen, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the top U.S. military officer, expressed his "deep disappointment."
McChrystal, in an apparent attempt to save his job, reached out to Gates and other officials to say he was sorry.
"It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a statement.
Lawmakers were split over whether he might have to go, with most leaving the decision to Obama.
"Everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the president and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission," said Senator John Kerry, a leading Democrat who is close to Obama.