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Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert, a public-interest attorney and journalist, is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership.

A Constitutional necessity

Q: In confronting the issue of Gen. McChrystal's apparent insubordination, did President Obama have any choice but to remove him? Going forward, what can Gen. Petraeus do to overcome this dramatic shakeup and keep his troops reassured and on mission?

It is the Constitution, Article II, Section 2 that ensures that the president not only serves as the head of the executive branch of government but also as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The fact that our military forces are subordinate to the civilian government is not happenstance, but a wise structure established to ensure that our military reports to the people, not itself. One need not go far - Iran, North Korea, Iraq in the days of Saddam Hussein -- to see the dangers of military rule.

The president was absolutely right to relieve McChrystal of his command. Whatever one thinks of U.S. policy in Afghanistan - and frankly I'm skeptical of the ability of the U.S. and a corrupt Afghan government to quickly drive out the Taliban and assert the rule of law in a culture that has been at war nearly continuously since the late 1970s -- the president's team of military and civilian leaders needs to respect each other and work together. The president's quick and forceful message is a necessary first step.

By Kathryn Kolbert

 |  June 23, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
Category:  Wartime Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

You make a good point, in the context of president Karzai's managment of his own country and support for Gen. McChrystal.

President Obama not only had to preserve the sanctity of the US Constitution but also had to set an example for nacent democracies such as that in Afganistan in which corruption runs rampant.

Posted by: ArtDodger69 | June 24, 2010 2:01 PM
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