ANOTHER "TRUMAN-MACARTHUR" MOMENT IN THE OFFING?
When military commanders butt heads with their civilian superiors, there's going to be trouble... for the military commander. This is especially true when the civilian superior is the president.
The most famous example would be in 1951 when Truman fired General MacArthur. The two men had "slightly" differing opinions on how the Korean war should be fought, and when MacArthur made it known, Truman fired him. The decision for Truman was easy, the political fallout was another thing, altogether. After all, MacArthur was a national hero, an institution. Truman survived, MacArthur did not.
On Wednesday, when General McChrystal goes before the president to explain his comments in a just released Rolling Stone article, the history of military-civilian clashes might be revisited. That is, with General McChrystal no longer being the top commander in Afghanistan.
I have read the article and can not see McChrystal leaving Washington with his job intact. But, then again, Washington is a different place these days and it's quite possible that Gibbs has a way to spin this so Obama still appears to be in charge.
Fundamentally transforming America is a full-time job, and the president doesn't need his military commanders stepping out line at this critical juncture.