Weighing on on whether or not General Stan McChrystal should keep his job in Afghanistan is way above my pay grade. Just looking at a picture of the guy makes me uneasy about saying anything remotely critical of him, because he is one intense dude.

Since McChrystal will learn today from his Commander in Chief if he’ll keep his job, I found and read the Rolling Stone article which has landed him in hot water. My own take on it is that while he comes across as displaying a macho attitude and some of his staffers more so to the point of stupid, it is a Rolling Stone article, with all the gonzo hyperbole that one would expect (did you know the US is basically fighting the war in Afghanistan single handed – I didn`t), and the tone of the article is more subversive than are the General`s actual political comments. As one ex infantry officer puts it, this is after all “a freelance article written in music magazine“ and thus not the most desirable driver of foreign and military policy. Still, I can`t imagine how the article is in any way helpful to Obama or to the war itself.

I tend to agree with Flit that this moment isn`t a reply of Truman vs McArthur, and that his Lincoln vs McClellan analogy is a better one. Hopefully some clarity and focus will come of this. As the body of Sgt. James Patrick McNeil comes home from Afghanistan today (hello Rolling Stone) it`s worth noting that soldiers are still dying and their deaths need to be honoured and given purpose. In that goal I think Obama has it dead on when he said that it’s all about the soldiers: “Whatever decision that I make with respect to Gen. McChrystal, or any other aspect of Afghan policy, is determined entirely on how I can make sure that we have a strategy that justifies the enormous courage and sacrifice that those men and women are making over there, and that ultimately makes this country safer”.

0 Responses

  1. I agree with your blogged sentiments. In addition, as a former subscriber I see RS's place in journalism right there with Entertainment Tonight and a bit above that of National Enquirer, but not much.

    "All politics is local," so there are some other, much larger, implications on this side of the fence, too. Don't forget where Obama comes from. Chicago politics is playing very well in the less well-lit alleys of government. So I'd gather ruthlessness is a General Order in this White House rather than something they have to let out of a box for special occasions. McChrystal and others could be sacked for less and I suspect, like Hoffa, many of the bodies will never be seen or counted by RS or ET.

    And I hate to say this about a foreign policy decision, but the Administration is in the midst of of rearranging how money is allocated, for example – https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22077.0;all
    Maybe this is being done to find dollars to support foreign policy initiatives or objectives, but if someone gets the President to decide Southern Asia is a money hole not worth a cent now you betcha the mole hill RS article will be made into a mountain rivaling Everest. I think the decisions on what domestic and foreign policy programs to kill or keep were made in December and the word is just getting out to some folk – including Congress as seen from the example above. But because everyone outside of the Oval Office is left in reactive mode, I expect the fight over the money to get meaner, and the article is certain to be used as just another political weapon in Washington, collateral damage in Afganistan or at home be damned.

  2. The chief problem is, Obama says that, but he doesn't mean it. It just sounds good to say. And that's been his pattern since the campaign….say what people wanted to hear while doing what he wanted to do. This decision is all about Obama looking bad, not about the troops. By all accounts, the General was well liked by his troops and well respected.

    I find it terribly amusing that Obama now has to praise Petraeus, whom he and his compatriots villified as a liar and several other things when he was a Bush administration general. Now that he's their appointee, they never said that. In a disturbingly Orwellian twist, Google has apparently removed some past Democratic statements regarding Petraeus from their search engine so as to avoid conflict with the new stance. This in much the same way as Senator Bird is being described as merely having a brief interaction with the KKK due to having to deal with a backwoods constituency, editing out his past history as a high-ranking KKK member who even started his own chapter. It's really chillingly 1984.

  3. Steve:

    Good point about money. I remember that when the White House was considering the Afghan surge, somebody cranked the numbers on what it cost to deploy one grunt to theatre for one tour and the figure was somewhere like half a million each. I am sure that the fiscal cost as well as the human cost vs the likely rewards are as much if more a factor as is national security.

    SC: I'm not sure I can remember an instance where the Obama circle accused Petraeus of dishonesty. What incident are you thinking of? Whatever one's politics, I think it's significant that no one in the military community, either serving or retired, came out in McChrystal's defence. The military wisdom is that the guy pretty much stepped on his weiner.

  4. Remember, Petraeus was Bush's Iraq general at the time when the Democrats were lambasting the war, with Harry Reid declaring the war lost. I'm thinking in particular of the "Petraeus Report" to Congress on the state of Iraq as the surge took effect. Just to cherry-pick one quote from a current Obama administration person: Democratic Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois stated that "We don't need a report that wins the Nobel Prize for creative statistics or the Pulitzer for fiction."