Tag Archives: Obama

Obama’s MacArthur Moment

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama sacked the general implementing his counterinsurgency policy in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, on the heels of unflattering remarks the military leader and his aides made about the commander-in-chief’s national security team in a recently published Rolling Stone article. McChrystal flew in from Afghanistan and arrived in Washington yesterday morning with his tail between his legs, as he offered Obama his mea culpa and tendered his resignation. Shortly after, surrounded by the country’s military leadership and his Cabinet in the Rose Garden, the president announced the general’s replacement, the highly respected David Petraeus, whose surge strategy brought Iraq back from the brink, and declared that while he “welcome[s] debate, [he] won’t tolerate division.”

President Barack Obama announcing McChrystal's sacking.

While Obama went to lengths to assure the public that the firing was “a change in personnel, but … not a change in policy,” the situation nonetheless echoed the events of an earlier age, namely, when President Harry Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of command during the Korean War. In that conflict, which was one of the bloodiest skirmishes of the Cold War, the commander-in-chief and his subordinate had a genuine disagreement about policy, with the general publicly advocating the abandonment of the Truman Doctrine and pushing for the invasion of China, while his boss sought to prevent the Cold War from turning hot. When MacArthur — who I happen to believe was right — refused to carry out Truman’s orders he was fired.

While Truman’s policy of containment may have prolonged the Cold War, and though the general may have been correct in his convictions, the president’s decision to fire MacArthur was unmistakably right. From time to time, this country’s armed forces need to be reminded that America’s defense policy is under civilian control and that we are not run by a military junta where generals run the show. Ultimately, while the military leadership does possess a voice on matters of defense and national security; in a democracy, final say must rest with the commander-in-chief elected by the people.

US President Harry Truman with General Douglas MacArthur, who he would later fire for insubordination.

Men in uniform must respect the limits the Constitution places on them for the American experiment to survive. We have had many presidents with distinguished military careers; from Grant, to Theodore Roosevelt, to Eisenhower, and to George H.W. Bush. And all of them knew that they could not wear their military uniform while in the White House. The sacking of insubordinate generals predates Truman and stretches back to Lincoln’s firing of McClellan during the Civil War. In the end, as McChrystal learned the hard way, it is the general’s job to implement strategy, not to make it or gripe about those formulating it.


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America Must Stand With Israel

The Stars and Stripes and the Magen David.

In the wake of the flotilla crisis, America must buck the tide of criticism and stand with its only true friend in the Middle East: Israel. Israel has been unfairly condemned by the international community of hypocrites for protecting its people from rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The Arabs are trying to play to their street, Europe is playing with oil politics and courting the Muslim vote, and America is silent.

Some have said that the Obama Administration should speak up and join the chorus of condemnation. They are wrong. Yes, America must speak up, but they must do so on Israel’s behalf.  The Israelis are solid allies; they are the only real democracy in the Middle East and bonds of friendship–economic, political, and emotional–tie us together. The Jewish State happens to be right on the issue of Gaza: trade should not be able to flow freely into an enclave controlled by terrorists, especially when that commerce brings in materials that have been used to fire 10,000 rockets at Israel in the past five years. If the people of Gaza want the blockade lifted, they should throw Hamas from power. If Hamas cares about the people they rule–they don’t–they can end the Strip’s isolation by recognizing Israel’s right to exist and renouncing violence.

The official policy position of the current administration supports the blockade, though Obama and the State Department seem to be backing away from that stand. They should not, because there is no good alternative to it, and it is imperative to Israeli security and survival.

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