Observations, Politics-Government.

David Brooks over-reacts to McChrystal’s firing

-PD-USGOV, US DoD

Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Attrib: US DoD, PD-USGOV.

David Brook’s opinion piece in the New York Times, The Culture of Exposure, was written in response to the article in Rolling Stone about General Stanley McChrystal, which precipitated McChrystal’s loss of his Afghanistan military command. While I generally agree with Mr. Brook’s sentiments regarding sensationalism from the media (of which he is part), some of which serves to over-expose poor private behavior, I find his response to Gen. McChrystal’s dismissal from command incomplete and inadequate.

David Brook’s opinion piece in the New York Times, “The Culture of Exposure“, was written in response to the Rolling Stone General Stanley McChrystal article, which precipitated McChrystal’s loss of his Afghanistan military command. While I generally agree with Mr. Brook’s sentiments regarding sensationalism from the media (of which he is part), some of which serves to over-expose poor private behavior, I find his response to Gen. McChrystal’s dismissal from command incomplete and inadequate.

Gen. McChrystal was not blindsided by the media, nor dismissed because he ‘kvetched’; he deliberately courted the Rolling Stone article, and for a number of weeks; he exposed himself in public, so to speak, and not for the first time. It is for this serious lack of judgment that he lost his job, and there is hardly anyone in public office today who felt there was any other alternative. In this rather obvious outcome, he joins many previous high ranking military officers who’s egos overrode their sense of duty and sent them to preen before reporters. Lincoln fired several generals, in part for public insubordination, Gen. Edwin Walker couldn’t contain himself with the press (and resigned rather than being dismissed), and McArthur … well … McArthur.

During WWII, Mr. Brook’s “culture of reticence” did not engender complete silence by the media regarding ‘kvetching’: For example, Gen. Patton repeatedly sought out and ‘kvetched’ to the media, who quoted him many times, to SHAEF’s discomfort. Patton ultimately lost his post-war occupation command as a result. To quote Time magazine (Oct. 8, 1945): “Old Blood & Guts was in Dutch again. Lieut. General George S. Patton Jr., Military Governor of Bavaria, had made a fool of himself and had reflected on the whole U.S. Army by holding a press conference and pooh-poohing efforts to rid Germany of Nazis.”

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