Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the people Gen. Stanley McChrystal dissed to Rolling Stone, issued this statement that you could read as neither supporting nor opposing McChrystal.
When General McChrystal called me this morning, I emphasized that my concern is our policy in Afghanistan and what it will take to be successful there. I respect General McChrystal as a soldier and always have. What’s most important is the 94,000 American troops serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan. Their safety and their mission should be the priority we stay focused on above all else. The Commander in Chief and his national security team, including his top commander on the ground, must have confidence in each other and confidence in the path forward in Afghanistan. It would be a grave mistake to allow this unfolding news drama to distract anyone from the mission at hand. Now is not the time for Washington to be sidetracked by chatter. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the President and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission, and to have their face-to-face discussion tomorrow without a premature Washington feeding frenzy.
You could read that either way, but it’s certainly a statement that Obama needs to decide not just what McChrystal’s future is, but what the future of Afghanistan strategy is.
At Small Wars Journal, the premiere counterinsurgency blog, Robert Haddick makes a case that McChrystal dug himself in too deep a hole to stay on:
It is hard to believe that President Obama and his staff will be able to continue to work with McChrystal after the revelation of the Rolling Stone affair. President Obama will have to defend his commander-in-chief powers under Article II of the Constitution and that will almost certainly require McChrystal’s swift retirement. To allow McChrystal to apologize and stay on would set a bad precedent, send the wrong signal regarding civil-military relations to the rest of the military, and would cause great uproar among Obama’s civilian staff.