Gen. Stanley McChrystal and a coterie of aides in Afghanistan stepped out in a magazine profile in Rolling Stone, speaking of betrayal and mocking members of the Administration like Vice President Joe Biden. McChrystal also expresses “disappointment” over his first meeting with President Obama, and especially over the appointment of Karl Eikenberry as the top diplomat in Afghanistan.
An article out this week in “Rolling Stone” magazine depicts Gen. Stanley McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war [...]
If Eikenberry had the same doubts, McChrystal said he never expressed them until a leaked internal document threw a wild card into the debate over whether to add more troops last November. In the document, Eikenberry said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not a reliable partner for the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal was hired to execute.
McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” and accused the ambassador of giving himself cover.
“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.’”
Because Rolling Stone apparently doesn’t want to sell Web ads, they haven’t yet put the article on their site, even though information wants to be free and Politico has posted the whole piece as a PDF.
McChrystal and aides reserve their greatest rancor for top members of the Administration. They call the “inflection point” deadline of July 2011 to transition to local Afghan forces “arbitrary,” one aide calls National Security Adviser Jim Jones a “clown… stuck in 1985,” and
another aide McChrystal himself offers a rejected “Wayne’s World” joke about the Vice President: “Biden? Did you say: Bite me?”
McChrystal had to apologize for the entire profile.
“I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” McChrystal said in a statement.
“Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard,” he said.
“I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”
The damage is done, of course. And if Team McChrystal wasn’t busy lining up soundbites to start the round of blame for their inevitable failures in Afghanistan, maybe they’d pay more attention to the problems happening inside the country. Like the nation of drug addicts being created. Or the sudden resignation of the leading British diplomat:
Britain’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who has criticized elements of the U.S. war strategy, has resigned and the new government of Prime Minister David Cameron is reviewing whether to fill the job, British officials said Monday.
Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British counterpart of Obama administration special representative Richard C. Holbrooke, had held the position since early 2009, after serving nearly two years as ambassador to Afghanistan.
He had pushed for a political solution in Afghanistan and for higher priority to be given to talks with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, while expressing skepticism that increased military force could prevail.
The resignations of honorable men always come first. I guess this guy betrayed McChrystal too. In the end, everybody does.
UPDATE: The article confirms that old axiom, that military commanders never ask for less troops at any point in a war:
But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn’t begin to reflect how deeply fucked up things are in Afghanistan. “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular,” a senior adviser to McChrystal says. Such realism, however, doesn’t prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here,” a senior military official in Kabul tells me.
UPDATE III: So here’s something fun. It’s the section in the Uniform Code of Military Justice about insubordination:
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Pretty clear-cut. (Sec’y of Transportation at one time commanded the Coast Guard)
UPDATE IV: Eugene Fidell, a Yale professor and president of the National Institute of Military Justice, calls McChrystal’s words “disrespectful” but not contemptuous, but nevertheless says that the General should be fired. Michael Cohen offers a fusillade of reasons why McChrystal has to go. At the root, this is about the military commanders understanding their role.
UPDATE V: John Kerry won’t call for McChrystal’s ouster, considers it “poor judgment” on the part of the General and his aides.
UPDATE VI: Rolling Stone has the full story up now. It occurs to me that the carping from McChrystal and his entourage (generals have an entourage now) mirrors almost perfectly the whining from Wall Street CEOs that their asses haven’t been properly kissed. We live in this culture of elite entitlement, and even the elites who get practically everything they want – from Jamie Dimon to Stanley McChrystal – still find fault with those who fail to fully recognize their brilliance and worth.