Jun 23, 2010

McChrystal Pulls a McClellan/MacArthur; About to Get Sacked

Right out of the pages of your tattered US History book, General Stanley McChrystal is about to join George B. McClellan and Douglas MacArthur in the discard pile of American Generals after talking some serious smack about his president outloud. And to Rolling Stone, of all people.

Here are some excerpts of what's about to get him canned and out of the War on Terror.

"Stan" McChrystal voted for Barack Obama, but he was disturbed when the president promoted him without knowing who he was.

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."

Stanley McChrystal also struggled when he had to convince Barack Obama to give him power for something stupid. (Barack Obama eventually did this, of course.)

Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. "I found that time painful," McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. "I was selling an unsellable position." For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics – a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks. "The entire COIN [counterinsurgency] strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. "The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.

And here's pretty much the biggest problem with the Afghanistan war, Washington, Stanley McChrystal, and 21st century anxiety in general:

In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985." Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows.

Frankly, it's not very helpful." Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.' "

McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal," says a member of the general's team. "Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He's a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can't just have someone yanking on shit."

At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from [U.S. special envoy Richard] Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.

You know, Lincoln was famously quoted as saying, "If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time." Despite this, he was the most popular of that army's commanders with its soldiers, who felt that he had their morale and well-being as paramount concerns. The analogy doesn't work here. McChrystal was shooting - and shooting his mouth off too.

General McClellan also failed to maintain the trust of Lincoln, and proved to be frustratingly derisive of, and insubordinate to, his commander-in-chief. After he was relieved of command, McClellan became the unsuccessful Democratic nominee opposing Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election. Perhaps there's something to that in the McChrystal story? MacArthur was just a little too happy to pursue the Korean War.

Rolling Stone?!
Oh, also, the General loves Bud Light Lime, and his favorite movie was Talladega Nights. Now that's more up to par with the Rolling Stone interviews I'm used to.

Here's some more excerpts from Rolling Stone magazine profile


craxkhead said...

I'll caption that picture for you

"General, I'm not proud of it and I certainly don't exploit it, but this pimp hand is strong. Don't make me me use it on you."

MightyMiN said...

Why would any top level General in his right mind say the shit that he said about Obama to a damn MUSIC magazine?! This guy clearly WANTED to either get fired, or be asked for his resignation.

Mission Accomplished

AlGore said...

You're almost there. He didn't want to be commanding forces in Afghanistan anymore. Instead of resigning quietly, he sought to publicly embarrass Obama, Biden, and others. Why?

Since he was originally an Obama cheerleader, and was hand-picked by Obama himself, I would guess he felt Obama hadn't followed through on all his rhetoric. Even the Rolling Stone article indicates Obama is disinterested in the war and rarely ever met with McChrystal. McChrystal not only felt snubbed, but probably felt the lives of soldiers are in danger, the war is seriously compromised, and Obama is neglecting his duties as Commander-in-chief.

Whatever your thoughts on the wars, clearly they are not a priority of Obama right now. I don't think McChrystal is alone in questioning Obama's priorities. If Obama is not going to bring the troops home, he needs to be actively involved in leading their mission to success. Their blood has been on his hands now for 16 months and I don't think he particularly cares. McChrystal decided to be the martyr to bring attention to it.