We all need more team spirit. Obama's Afghanistan team is in disarray. Their egos seem to be as bloated as the ego's in the French soccer team.
While President Obama is angry with McChrystal's frank comments and perhaps insubordination, President Sarkozy is reportedly furious over the national team's behaviour inside and outside the soccer stadiums. It was not really a "team." He even cleared his schedule for a one hour meeting with the captain on the day of a general labor strike. That shows how important the soccer team is for France as a symbol of national integration and unity.
Germany's coalition government has been in disarray for months as well with some calling each other "wild pigs" and "gherkin troops" (rank amateurs). (There are also rumors that one cabinet member called the defense minister "rumpelstiltskin.") Though, thanks to the national soccer team's victory over Ghana today, Merkel's government won't collapse yet. ;-)
If Germany had failed to make it into the round of sixteen for the first time in history, it would have been a national fiasco. Let's do not forget that the German coach is not called "Trainer der Nationalmannschaft," but goes by the official sounding name "Bundestrainer," just like the top government titles "Bundeskanzler," "Bundespräsident" etc.
On Sunday, we will play against England. One British fan said on TV that the world cup was invented for England and Germany to play against each other. Good point. Still, it is regrettable (but not at all surprising) that the British tabloid The Sun uses military language to describe the upcoming match. Come on, guys. It's just soccer. The real war is in Afghanistan.
Thus, it is of course ridiculous for me to compare Obama's Afghanistan troubles with Sarkozy's soccer problem.
Obama's problem goes beyond General McChrystal. In fact, his quotes in the Rolling Stone article are quite harmless. Rather the general was apparently let down by his closed aides, who idolized their boss and were stupid enough to make unprofessional comments in front of a reporter.
What is worse is that the article is just the latest reminder of the many internal conflicts in Obama's Afghanistan "team". McChrystal was fired after just 14 months. Before him, Obama had fired McKiernan. And apparently US Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry does not get along with both McChrystal and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Jones and Clinton , writes the NY Times:
In one episode that dramatized the building animosities, General Jones, the national security adviser, wrote to Ambassador Eikenberry in February, sympathizing with his complaints about a visit Mr. Holbrooke had recently made to Afghanistan. In the note, which went out over channels that were not secure, officials said, General Jones soothed the ambassador by suggesting that Mr. Holbrooke would soon be removed from his job. The Jones note prompted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain to Mr. Obama, and her support for Mr. Holbrooke has kept him in his job.
Such highschool drama is unbelievable for a superpower at war.
Endnote: Jon Stewart used to criticize President Bush for playing golf, when the Iraq war was going south. Now he is complaining about Obama playing golf, while the Gulf crisis lasts and the Afghanistan war gets even more violent. Interesting that even America's left is getting increasingly frustrated with Obama. Pretty fair and balanced.