Who Should Replace McChrystal?

by Benjamin Domenech on 9:58 pm June 22, 2010



Thomas Ricks suggests James Mattis as a possible replacement for the presumably outgoing Stanley McChrystal. Mattis would be a truly dramatic shift, where in my view the goal should be making a transition which maintains current policy as much as possible (Ricks may not view this as the goal). This means it needs to be someone from in-theater. From my perspective, that means giving David Rodriguez a fourth star. He’s as close to SECDEF as you can get, being a former aide, and has the on the ground knowledge to keep the current path headed in the right direction.

McChrystal ought to be remembered as a general felled by staff hubris: in my view, everything M4 said in that now-infamous Rolling Stone piece was accurate. But just because a critique is accurate does not mean it ought to be said, especially when the speaker is one of our most prominent military leaders, and the target is the president of the United States and his administration. That’s a firing offense in that job, unfortunately.

As Peter Feaver notes, it seems clear Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings had three stories to tell — one sold to McChrystal’s staff as a tough warrior story (a la the Vanity Fair piece on Petraeus), one sold to his editors as an attack job featuring McChrystal’s critics, and the third he lucked into: a “weekend in Vegas” bunch of grievance airing after the point where staff had forgotten the reporter was a reporter after too many Bud Light Limes. Petraeus and his staff are brilliant handlers of the media, adept and controlled (even in the most recent incident). McChrystal and his crew are very down to earth, perhaps too much so. They should know better: never trust a reporter.

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