President Obama’s firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal was appropriate given the derogatory remarks about the president and his administration by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, members if the Iowa congressional delegation said June 23.
They agreed McChrystal had shown disrespect for the president and, in doing so, had shown disrespect for the principle of civilian control over the military.
“What the general said was an affront to the commander-in-chief even if what was said was accurate,” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a call with reporters.
“Gen. McChrystal’s comments were inappropriate and I support the President’s decision,” said Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
“I firmly believe Gen. McChrystal stepped out of line in his remarks about our civilian leadership and it was appropriate for him to be removed,” Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, added during his weekly conference call. Obama, he added, “asserted his role strongly.”
McChrystal was relieved of his command after a Wednesday morning meeting with Obama. He had come under fire for remarks disparaging remarks he made about Obama, Vice President Biden and other members of the administration. McChrystal’s comments were reported by Rolling Stone magazine, which had a reporter embedded with him.
Obama replaced McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus.
“One of founding principles in our democracy has always been the civilian role of commander-in-chief and the requirement for the chain of command in the military to respect that title and the role of the commander-in-chief,” Braley said.
“The comments that were made by Gen. McChrystal and his staff undermined the president’s authority and had the potential to endanger the mission they are currently trying to execute.”
The timing of the change in command in Afghanistan is unfortunate, Grassley said. McChrystal had been trying to achieve the same success Petraeus had in Iraq “and that might be the only way to get out of Afghanistan quickly and with a victory.”
“We’re just beginning to crank up what we sent 30,000 additional people over there to do,” he said. McChrystal had done a good job “and has the confidence of President Karzai and is one of the few Americans over there who does.”
“But the general said things he shouldn’t have said,” Grassley added.
Braley has had concerns about both McChrystal and Petraeus. He was critical of Petraeus’ leadership in the Iraq War.
McChrystal, Braley pointed out, was recommended for discipline for his role in the cover-up of former NFL player Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire while serving in the Army Rangers in Afghanistan. The Army declined to take action on that recommendation.