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MICHAEL GOODWIN: Sack Stanley McChrystal

Truth is no defense to in subordination. For the good of the troops, the mission and the entire military command structure, Gen. Stanley McChrystal must be sacked.

It matters not a whit whether McChrystal is factually correct in his caustic view of President Obama and members of the national security team. Nor does it matter whether his conduct and that of his aides rise to the legal level of insubordination.

Obama is the commander in chief and McChrystal is a cog in the chain of command. The general has exposed himself as the weak link with his foolish decision to go public with his complaints.

It's probably true, as McChrystal told Rolling Stone magazine, that Obama was "disengaged" and not prepared for their first meeting on Afghanistan. More important is that McChrystal was so reckless as to say it to a magazine.

It may well be true that National Security Adviser Jim Jones is a "clown," as the general charged. Jones, after all, opened an important meeting with an Israeli-friendly think tank with a joke about a heartless Jewish merchant.

Guilty as charged, but it's not for McChrystal to make the charge. And Vice President Joseph Biden -- who doesn't make fun of him? But you can't do it on the record when you have 100,000 American soldiers under your command, as well as forces from NATO allies.

And you certainly can't charge our ambassador to Afghanistan with personal betrayal, as McChrystal did, and get away with it.

Any one of these comments would be cause for serious concern. So many broadsides against the civilian commanders of the United States in a time of war are simply beyond the pale.

The pattern shows such egregiously bad judgment that McChrystal's credibility is wrecked. He can't be trusted to lead or follow if he can't be trusted.

The decorated general has apologized for the big-time screw-up, and no decent American can wish him any further humiliation when he meets the brass and a "furious" Obama after being summoned home. But neither his distinguished service nor the importance of the troubled war effort can be reason to spare him. There can be no such thing as "indispensable" or "too big to fail" in the military.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of allied forces fighting in Korea, was an even more important figure when he was sacked after a similar criticism of President Harry Truman in 1951. MacArthur thought Truman too hesitant in combating Chinese and North Korean forces, and expressed his barbs in a letter to a congressman -- who promptly read its contents on the House floor. Abraham Lincoln bounced several top Union commanders in the Civil War.

The principle is the same now as always. Subjecting top commanders to strict standards of accountability ensures cohesion and trust up and down the chain.

To excuse McChrystal's conduct on the basis of his rank would be to admit a double standard. That can damage the mission and cost the lives of ordinary soldiers.

The Afghan war effort needs victories, not another problem. Our casualties continue to rise, our allies are losing heart, and the government of Hamid Karzai barely functions outside the capital. 

New reports of vast bribes paid to warlords to protect our supply convoys will only add to the pressure on Obama to head for the exit. And growing complaints from our soldiers, including those in Rolling Stone, that rigid limits on the use of firepower are adding to the dangers can only reinforce public doubts.

It is a devilishly complex war, already the longest in American history. McChrystal, the author of the counterinsurgency plan and the surge Obama endorsed, appeared uniquely qualified to lead it. That appearance has been shattered and can't be repaired.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here

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Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.