By Ray Fleming

WHEN I heard yesterday of U.S General McChrystal's published disparagement of President Obama and his advisers, my first thought was of the family of Royal Marine Richard Hollington who had just been named as the 300th British serviceman to lose his life in Afghanistan. Why should servicemen and their families suffer in this way when the general in charge of operations in Afghanistan criticises his Commander-in-Chief so openly?

My second thought was of US President Harry Truman who in April 1951 dismissed General MacArthur for exceeding his authority in public comments about the Korean War. MacArthur was a legendary World War Two commander but Truman, who became president only because of Roosevelt's death, had no hesitation in dismissing him. President Obama should have no hesitation in dealing with McChrystal, who is a tiny figure in comparison to MacArthur, in the same way. If he does not he will lose all authority as Commander-in-Chief and a resolution of the Afghanistan war will become even more difficult than it is already.

Already, apologists for McChrystal are saying that his comments were intended only to alert the President to his anxieties and needs. Rolling Stone magazine is a curious way of communicating with the President, especially if it contains passages like this, undisputed by McChrystal: “General McChrystal has seized control of the war by never taking his eyes of the real enemy - the wimps in the White House.”