Cast that way, there's sense to calling for the general's departure. One hopes the president makes decisions in a calmer way than the punditry.
The oddest thing about the article is that it never says what the war in Afghanistan is about, who the enemy is beyond that they're called Taliban, and what is at stake. It tells that the war won't end with drama or parades, but it gives no inkling of what the world will be like so that we'll know it's over. Of course, one might say that's not the job of Mr. Hasting, who is writing about the general, not the war, but that seems a weak argument. The general is worthy of such a long article because of his centrality to the war.
This glaring drawback is a fundamental aspect of the war itself - the war that dare not be named, the war against the enemy who can't be there. I've written about this before, and will continue to do so, since the idiocy of this strategy is - in my opinion - probably the greatest weakness in the war effort, and therefore a major threat to humanity in its war against the Islamists who would destroy it. (There, I've said it). President Obama may bow to the politics of the matter and fire General McChrystal, or he may decide the general's flaws may be commensurate to his abilities and order him back to work. Either way, the history books will discuss Obama's leadership over this section of the war, not McChrystal's. On that point, Obama's adamant refusal to say what the war is about is of greater significance than the general's career.
The New York Times this morning offers yet another example of how deep-seated the refusal to recognize reality has become. It's a story about Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who has now admitted in court to trying to blow up Time Square, while making no secret of his motives. Not that the NYT accepts his word:
However, interviews with American officials suggest that Mr. Shahzad’s visits to Pakistan and the friendships he formed there were critical to his militant evolution. Mr. Shahzad seemed to lack “validation” from his family and work environment, finding it instead with “a bunch of like-minded brothers,” said an administration official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.
Mr. Shahzad appears to fit a pattern among young Muslims in the United States who have joined militant groups over the last year. In contrast to their predecessors — the 9/11-era jihadist leaders who framed their movement in religious terms — Mr. Shahzad and other recent recruits carry the attributes of “foot soldiers,” driven less by religious rhetoric than by personal bonds and their sense of obligation to the ummah, or global Muslim community, the American officials said.
Comforting, isn't it. Militants - never terrorists - dislike us and do bad things to us because we're not nice to their friends. True, the friends just happen to be Jihadis, but Jihad, as we all know, can be a positive struggle for human improvement, so that doesn't tell us much, does it.
Can anyone imagine Churchill, say, or Roosevelt, or anyone else, pretending their enemy was "chauvinists who are perverting the proud traditions of the German nation"? Or "Militarists who have hijacked the beauty of Japanese tradition"? Can anyone imagine the West winning the Cold War had it defined its enemy as "Misguided intellectuals who have imposed themselves on the long-suffering Russian people"?
I don't know enough about the Japanese, but the other two enemies were Nazism and Communism. Powerfully potent ideas which motivated armies of otherwise regular folks to engage in mass destruction and murder of tens of millions. That's what ideas do, sometimes: they motivate people, inform their actions, guide their behavior.
Here's the sort of idea which is informing the understanding of children across the Arab World these days. Pretend this isn't happening at your own peril.