McChrystal is offering his professional judgment well in advance of a presidential decision. Yes, he’s doing it in public, but that’s something that small-“d” democrats should welcome. Combined with the leaking of his report, his London speech has triggered a public debate that is much more robust and better informed than it would otherwise have been.

Jones suggested that military advice should “come up through the chain of command,” while Gates chastised that it is “imperative” that military and civilian leaders “provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately.” How quickly we forget: That was the rationale used to muzzle General Eric Shinseki during the run up to the Iraq war. Wouldn’t we have been better off to have had a no-holds-barred debate involving senior military officials prior to the invasion about the number of troops it would take to stabilize Iraq after the invasion? Wouldn’t we have had the kind of public discussion that the American people deserved but did not get?