I’m grateful to Michael Cohen for challenging my views on General McChrystal, because it invites me--indeed, compels me--to say more about how I reached my conclusion. (Click here to find out why Joe Biden flipped on Afghanistan.) Let’s begin with some propositions about which I suspect there’s little disagreement: Entering or expanding a war is the gravest decision a political community can make. Lives, scarce resources, and honor are at stake, and the consequences of mistaken judgments are both large and lasting.
Liberal pundits, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and National Security Advisor James Jones are in agreement: General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was wrong to give public voice to his views about the best way forward in that beleaguered country.
With the Iraq war spinning out of control in mid-2005, retired Marine General James L. Jones spoke with his old friend Peter Pace, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jones, who is now Barack Obama's national security advisor, had been sounded out for the Joint Chiefs job but demurred. One reason: He felt that civilian leaders in Washington were warping the military planning process. "Military advice is being influenced on a political level," Jones warned Pace, according to Bob Woodward's book State of Denial. Jones's warning squared with other reports at the time that U.S.