The hardest thing about being a General is you must send honorable men to their death. Knowing you are fighting for victory of good over evil is what sustains you through every sorrowful personal letter you must send to parents and wives. When your Commander in Chief sees no evil and commands you to fight, not for victory, but just to reach a date, what do you do? When the enemy has been given the date you are to lay down your arms, defeat is assured, deaths are rendered vain. By what sense of valor can you send more men to die for a date?
General MacChrystal was torn asunder by the burden, as must be other commanders in the field. But what he did was wrong. He was forced to retire by his own actions and deprived the Army of a hero. The proper thing would have been to (1) request a personal meeting with the President, (2)tender his resignation, (3) hold an immediate press conference and air his views as a civilian. It would be clear that the General’s resignation was a sacrifice born of conviction and the Army would have had a new hero.