Monday, June 28, 2010

McChrystal's Balls

For those of you living in a cabin in the Montana woods for the last few weeks, Rolling Stone magazine did an interview with General Stanley McChrystal, where he (and many of his aides) were making unflattering statements about the president, the vice president, and pretty much every politician involved with Afghanistan from the top down.

So, Obama called him back to Washington, perhaps to sit down with him, along with General Clown, Envoy Animal, and Vice President Bite-me, to discuss McChrystal's future career plans.

And now General Petraeus is in charge, and like so many politicians and military men before him, McChrystal is being given a chance "to spend more time with his family."

Now, the unhinged Right has gone off the rails so fast that at this point, if Obama were to single-handedly parachute into the Pakistani mountains, capture bin Laden, and use his bleeding corpse to plug the pipe that's pumping oil into the Gulf, they'd complain that he's a socialist for interfering with British Petroleum's efforts to fix their equipment.

Hell, even if Afghanistan suddenly becomes heaven on earth, with free democratic elections that put James Dobson in charge, with the Pope as his Vice Prophet, Liz Cheney would still talk about how "Obama castrated an entire country! He's trying to feminize the planet!"

But that's OK. If Obama had left McC in charge, those same people would complain about how weak Obama was appearing, and how he was making America a laughingstock on the international stage.

It doesn't matter what Obama does on any subject — the far right will spin it so hard that it will drill down into the ground. But really, on the fire/don't fire spectrum, there was a third option that nobody seems willing to talk about.

The Right likes to complain the Obama is "arrogant" (i.e., he isn't Steppin' Fetchit), and he's "thin-skinned." (What? He didn't smile and nod when you called him "Hitler" for the sixtieth time?)

But if Obama was really "thin-skinned," he would have taken that third option. And General McChrystal wouldn't have been allowed to retire. He would have been courtmartialed.
Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces...
It isn't hard to figure out. The military goes everywhere, and laws change. And sometimes, the military goes outside of any American jurisdiction.

So, instead of having to pay attention to the weird local laws, like the fact that it's still illegal in Kansas to ride a Grévy's Zebra, Tibetan ox, or any similar animal down a main thoroughfare (unless there's a parade in progress), or in Thailand, where you can be arrested for not wearing underwear, we have federal laws, which take precedence... most of the time. Unless they don't...

OK, mostly, the local government will give up their right to prosecute, since the military member is going to face military justice. It costs them less that way.

(There's actually a lengthy and somewhat boring discussion of jurisdiction that can be inserted here, but why bother?)

So the UCMJ tends to trump local law. Which means that General McChrystal was guilty of the military equivalent of jaywalking. Really, these were all minor offenses - no jail time would have been involved.

At worst, McChrystal would have lost a star. But because of the "high 3" rule (your retirement pay is based on the highest rank you held for three years), he would have still retired at the 3-star pay rate that he's getting now. (Of course, things might have gone worse for the various lower-ranking officers who were with him, and just as guilty.)

Nothing would have changed. The whole mess would have just lasted longer.

But that's OK. Our friends on the Right will figure some ignorant way to spin this.

1 comment:

Blakenator said...

Good post. As a retired military man, I understand. The true tragedy of the whole mess is the article was really about the uselessness of the occupation (I won't dignify it by calling it a "war."). I just wish I could take all the chickenhawks and load them into an aircraft and drop them off in Afghanistan with instructions that they are not allowed to leave until we "win."