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Danon/McChrystal analogy limited

Reader comment on item: The Right Moment for Israel's Danny Danon?

Submitted by John in Michigan, USA (United States), Aug 5, 2013 at 18:24

When Dr. Pipes writes:

"In American terms, [Danon's] criticism resembles Gen. Stanley McChrystal's 2010 interview mocking Vice President Joe Biden"

There is certainly a limited analogy here, in that both Danon and McChrystal's criticisms were frank, no-holds-barred, reality-based, prophetic, etc. but also brusque and indiscrete.

However, if I understand the Israeli parliamentary system correctly, Danon is a case of one civilian politician violating Party discipline to criticize another civilian politician, whereas, McChrystal is a case of a soldier violating military discipline to criticize his formal chain of command, i.e. the National Command Authority which includes the Vice President who was the President's appointed deputy on Afghanistan. McChrystal's criticisms, however wise and sound, were periously close to a court marshal offence; whereas Danon's criticisms are certainly a scandal, but they seem fundamentally to belong to the civilian/political sphere.

I don't know enough about the IDF to know if the Deputy Minister of Defense and the Prime Minister are both part of the formal IDF chain-of-command structure, or not. If they are, then potentially Danon also violated chain of command, and Dr. Pipes analogy becomes somewhat more apt.

Even so, Pipes analogy would remain complicated by the fact that Danon wears five hats 1) Deputy Minister in the Government; 2) Member of the IDF chain of command, 3) Member of Parliament answerable directly to his constituency; 4) Member of Likud and 5) an individual with a duty and a right to speak his mind.

McCrystal is only supposed to wear one or at most two hats: 1) General Officer of the US Armed Forces and 2) an individual with a right and a duty to speak his mind. Arguably, he surrendered most of his individual rights when he became a solder. Therefore, McCrystal's duty to his chain of command is more clear-cut and straightforward (and formally defined by law), whereas Danon's dutes are multi-faceted and defined mostly by tradition (and informally at that).

I hope the previous paragraph makes sense! What I am trying to say is, McCrystal's criticism was more of a shock, and quickly ended up being self-defeating, since it broke his clear duty to refrain from publically and blatantly criticizing his chain of command during time of war. Meanwhile, Danon's roles, and the obligations that come with them, are more complex, so Danon's enemies may not be able to make as strong a case against him. But, they will certainly try.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

You are right about these many differences. I used the McChrystal analogy because it was recent and somewhat similar, not because it is identical.

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