Rolling Stone Interview with General McChrystal

If you have not read the Rolling Stone article that caused a Commanding General to resign, you should. Read it here.

Here are some of what I think are the most damaging statements coming from General McChrystal and his staff:

About Vice President Biden:

Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile. Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

“Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”

“Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”

About President Obama:

Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

About President Karzai:

This is one of the central flaws with McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy: The need to build a credible government puts us at the mercy of whatever tin-pot leader we’ve backed – a danger that Eikenberry explicitly warned about in his cable. Even Team McChrystal privately acknowledges that Karzai is a less-than-ideal partner. “He’s been locked up in his palace the past year,” laments one of the general’s top advisers. At times, Karzai himself has actively undermined McChrystal’s desire to put him in charge. During a recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Karzai met three U.S. soldiers who had been wounded in Uruzgan province. “General,” he called out to McChrystal, “I didn’t even know we were fighting in Uruzgan!”

Most of the damaging comments came from staff and not the General himself. The military is not politics. A Congressman can say “You Lie” to a President. However, the military is a different beast. You don’t go public either directly or through you aids about differences you have with the civilian leadership… period. President Obama did the right thing here.

Your thoughts?




One response to “Rolling Stone Interview with General McChrystal

  1. Maureen Williams

    It never ceases to amaze me how apparently intelligent people can be so oblivious and yes, I’ll say it, stoopid, as to put themselves into this position. You’re right. Obama had no choice.

    However, not sure he’s going to do any better with Petraeus…. can you remember the Move-On campaign against him? How long will it be before Obama’s supporters start in on undermining him, now?

    I still don’t get the feeling that Obama is a “wartime consigliere”, or that he has one in his stable. And that worries me. Petraeus managed some success in Iraq, although for all the bluster about bringing home the troops, look!! We’re still there too. It’s another ride on the carousel, with no end in sight and no way to jump off.

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