President Obama is up a tree on Afghanistan. It was the war he said time and again that we had to win. As many have pointed out, beginning with the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democratic Party endlessly lauded Afghanistan as the "necessary" and "just" war, shamelessly employing the anemic military action as a rhetorical club with which to beat George Bush. Fast forward to 2009. Now the Democrats are stuck with the faltering Afghan war--and they have no idea what to do with it. If it all wasn't so tragic, the irony would be delicious.

But the moment is tragic and portentous. The President seems paralyzed with indecision. Democratic Leadership in Congress seems to be running for cover. Even more disturbing, Vice President Throttlebottom seems to be taking the lead in the policy deliberations. Could this all get any worse?

Actually, YES. The above is just the low hanging fruit. The most alarming element in this drama may well be the spectacle of the United States military high command and their ongoing campaign to martial public opinion on behalf of their position. I suppose we cannot call this insubordination. Presumably, the generals had permission to mount their media blitz (although I cannot imagine that the White House approved the leak to the Washington Post that began this whole public discussion).

The [London] Daily Telegraph reports: "[President] Obama furious at General Stanley McChrystal speech on Afghanistan."

Quoting the article:

"An adviser to the administration said: 'People aren't sure whether McChrystal is being na´ve or an upstart. To my mind he doesn't seem ready for this Washington hard-ball and is just speaking his mind too plainly.'"

Speaking of naivete and not-ready-for-prime-time: hello pot; this is kettle.

Bottom line: even though I think the Obama strategy in Afghanistan is likely to be disastrous, the precedent of a chief executive incapable of controlling his military is much more worrisome.

Even though it would precipitate a political firestorm, the President needs to rein in those generals right now--or, better yet, sack them immediately to make the greater point. Civilian control of the military is one of the fundamental tenets of the American tradition.

Right or wrong, presidents trump generals.

The nagging question: does the President have the fortitude to stand up for civilian authority in the face of the inevitable massive political fallout?