Jonathan Taplin: McCrystal & MacArthur

Roundup: Media's Take

[Jonathan Taplin is a Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.]

Rolling Stone Magazine dropped a bombshell on Washington this morning that will test Obama's strength as commander in chief. It could be a defining moment in the War in Afghanistan.

I've known JannWenner, editor and proprietor of Rolling Stone Magazine for about forty years. For all that time, he has continually labored to keep the magazine relevant and in the last three weeks the magazine's political reporting has reach new heights. I was about to write on their extraordinary article by Tim Dickinson, entitled The Spill, The Scandal and The President, when a headline popped up showing they had made news again with an article about General Stanley McCrystal that will come out on Friday. President Obama is so furious, he has summoned McCrystal to the White House to explain himself.

The article shows General McChrystal or his aides talking in sharply derisive terms about Mr. Biden; Ambassador Karl Eikenberry; Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan; and an unnamed minister in the French government. One of General McChrystal's aides is quoted as referring to the national security adviser,James L. Jones, as a "clown."

McCrystal should have been sacked almost a year ago when he boxed Obama in to giving him more troops by leaking a memo suggesting we were about to "lose Afghanistan to the Taliban". Whether this is a Truman-MacArthur moment is yet to be seen. But McCrystal's insubordination seems on a par with that earlier incident of a General who did not really get the notion of civilian command of the military.

The next few days should really test Obama's willingness to bring the Military to heel.

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