General Stanley McChrystal, the Commander of Afghanistan Forces, was subject of an in-depth article in Rolling Stone magazine in which he and his staff members shared their low opinions of President Barack Obama (D) and other high-ranking civilian government officials. After the article went public, McChrystal promptly met with Obama and tendered his resignation earlier today. He will be replaced by General David Petraeus.

McChrystal—and his staff members—are all entitled to their opinions. Heck, their opinions might even be right! Even so, McChrystal should be smart enough (and experienced enough) to understand the chain of command. You make your opinions known to your superiors privately, and then accept their judgment and follow their orders. You don’t insult them, especially not in a public forum, and you always treat them with honor and respect.

Our military forces answer to the civilian government and, whatever McChrystal might personally think of that government, its officials outrank him. Elected and appointed civilian leaders are entitled to appropriate respect and deference from our military officials, whatever they might think of their policies and personalities. I cannot understand why an experienced, professional military leader like McChrystal would allow himself to land in this position but, at least, he handled it honorably after the fact by apologizing for his poor judgment and resigning.

Insubordination is not accepted in the ranks of our armed forces; had McChrystal insulted his military superiors in this way he quite possibly would have faced court-martial for it. If McChrystal had not resigned, then Obama would have had to fire him. He had to go.