Gen. Stanley McChrystal
General's staff let him down
What transpired Wednesday was the tragic end to the stellar career of a true warrior. One of the most powerful men in the world was felled neither by an al-Qaida AK-47, nor a Taliban rocket- propelled grenade, or even an anonymous IED. He was mortally wounded by the mighty pen of a Rolling Stone magazine reporter.
Special Operations Forces warriors are expected to follow and adhere to the most important tenet of special operations. They are to be the "quiet professionals." The tragedy that played out Wednesday was anything but quiet.
As an SOF warrior, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was thrust into the limelight of one of the most imposing political and military positions known to our military culture. In the end, his warrior ethic did not fit comfortably into this very public model of required tact and diplomacy. Quite frankly, he was the proverbial "fish out of water."
I don't blame McChrystal for what happened. Quite honestly, I put the full blame on his command and personal staff, to include the sidekicks, wannabes and other burdensome strap-hangers who poisoned his position. They managed to continuously feed his enormous ego, narcissism and Jedi complex, and in doing so unwittingly set him up for failure.
Bottom line: His staff failed to look out for his best interest and the best interest of his command.
When some painful time has passed, I believe McChrystal will come to realize that it was not "the enemies in Washington" who conspired to make his mission impossible; it was members of his own staff who turned out to be the true Judases.
Pat Elmore, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army Reserve (retired), Safety Harbor
Gen. Stanley McCrystal
Mulling his motive
As the former wife of a high-ranking military officer, I can assure your readers every four-star general is aware of the military rules governing a press interview. That is, our officers know what they can and what they can't get by with politically.
In addition, a general would be aware, in today's disturbing political climate, that any well-known person making crude remarks about the president gains popularity with the so-called right wing. Therefore, McCrystal's remarks may not indicate poor judgment on his part. They may indicate an attempt to absolve himself of any blame for an ill-conceived war, which is bleeding us dry in an already anemic economy and has the potential to weaken us to the point of being unable to defend ourselves.
Only time will reveal McChrystal's motive. Perhaps he's competing for top spot on the tea party ticket.
Beverley J. Combs, St. Petersburg
New commander, same questions | June 24, Thomas Friedman column
Identifying the threat
Thomas Friedman is a genius at putting his finger on the essential elements of a problem. His simple questions about Afghanistan focus the mind — like hanging a child at dawn. I have an even more elemental unanswered question: What is it that President Harry Truman, Secretary of State George Marshall and Ambassador to Moscow George Kennan did in 1947 about a totalitarian ideology that their successors, from Jimmy Carter forward, have not done? Answer: Our mid 20th century giants shared a world view and openly defined the ideological threat in the starkest terms and without reservation. They were "all in" pragmatically and intellectually.
Our political, academic and cultural leaders, so far, refuse to use the Islamists' own words to define the threat to the national borders of 52 Muslim nations, to man-made law and to human and gender rights. Had we done that 3,000 days ago, intelligently and with Muslim leaders who value freedom and modernity, the stakes to all humanists would have been much more self-evident. Had we been more confident, open and articulate about a shared threat on PBS, Fox and on op-ed pages, moderates might have had the courage to muster interfaith Million Man Marches to protest the medieval future offered their children by the Salafist takfirir ideologues wielding nooses.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Better uses for the money
With all due respect for newspapers needing all the business they can get to stay afloat, I still can't help but wonder about all the full-page color ads BP is running in both major newspapers in this area — mostly on a daily basis. I know from experience these ads costs thousands of dollars each day.
I understand BP is running the ads in probably all the larger markets in coastal areas. This is obviously a PR strategy, as their image has been tarnished, but imagine how much more could be spent on cleanup crews if this money was sent in that direction.
BP would do well to run one ad at intervals when they have made new progress on this mess in the gulf. Keep us informed, but the hundreds of thousands spent on ads is overkill!
Lewis Ellsworth, Tampa
A Father's Day outing
I am not defending BP in any form, but I can consider that after dealing with the spill for two months, BP CEO Tony Hayward wanted to spend Father's Day with his son at a yacht race.
The president did not play golf with Sasha and Malia on Father's Day.
Lynn O'Keefe, Largo
A task for Obama | June 20, letter
Remember the fuss?
The letter writer asks, "What would it take for him (President Barack Obama) to make a few targeted public service announcements, maybe a speech or two extolling the benefits of the family, hard work and discipline?"
Perhaps the writer does not remember last fall when Obama tried to do exactly that, especially as it related to education. His essential message was that hard work and discipline in school would result in success in the future and a better nation for all of us.
If the letter writer remembered this, he would also remember the hue and cry that went up from the right and that the din was deafening. How dare the president of the United States talk to our children? What right did he have to tell our children what to do? Was he not just trying to brainwash our children?
The result? Some classes were canceled, children were kept at home or kept out of class. It was an unbelievable reaction to exactly what the writer wants. So what do we do now?
Peter Throdahl, Clearwater
No moral compass
Bill McCollum and his close allies are advertising that Rick Scott and his HCA company denied health care to pregnant woman and sick children, while at the same time McCollum is taking the lead in a court fight to strike down the recently passed health care legislation to expand health care for those same people.
This shows McCollum's lack of any consistent moral compass and that he will do whatever it takes to get elected.
George Alexiou, Clearwater
Wits and work propel U.S. attorney nominee June 20, story
A stand-up guy
As a retired federal agent, I wish to commend the St. Petersburg Times for its informative article concerning the nomination of Robert O'Neill for the position of U.S. attorney.
I had the privilege and pleasure of working cases with Bob and his associates in the U.S. Attorney's Office, and can attest to his qualities and outstanding credentials as outlined in your article. Bob is a "stand-up guy" and true gentleman who treats everyone with decency and respect, regardless of rank or position.
Citizens living in the Middle District of Florida will be very fortunate to have him as our U.S. attorney.
Douglas K. deWolfe, Odessa