Is McChrystal Going to Fallon his Sword?


This strikes me as an exceedingly unwise media strategy for General McChrystal:

(AP)  WASHINGTON (AP) – The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan told an interviewer he felt betrayed by the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.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.A band of McChrystal’s profane, irreverent aides are quoted mocking Vice President Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.McChrystal himself is described by an aide as “disappointed” in his first Oval Office meeting with an unprepared President Barack Obama. The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start. Obama called McChrystal on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops.“I found that time painful,” McChrystal said in the article, on newsstands Friday. “I was selling an unsellable position.”Obama agreed to dispatch an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan only after months of study that many in the military found frustrating. And the White House’s troop commitment was coupled with a pledge to begin bringing them home in July 2011, in what counterinsurgency strategists advising McChrystal regarded as an arbitrary deadline.

The profile, titled “The Runaway General” emerged from several weeks of interviews and travel with McChrystal’s tight circle of aides this spring….


If this story sounds eerily familiar, it is.

The general has a reputation as a straight shooter and a workaholic commander who is 100 % committed to his mission. Anyone even casually paying attention to Afghanistan is aware of the strain between McChrystal’s HQ and the US Embassy in Kabul under Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, himself a retired lieutenant general with tours of duty in Afghanistan in charge of state and military building programs. The leaking of a confidential cable from the Ambassaador that was extremely critical of US strategy under McChrystal most likely poisoned their relationship for good ( though the leak could easily have been from State Department, White House or NSC officials eager to engage in slimy intrigue and ingratiate themselves with the MSM, rather than from the Embassy itself).

I also agree that the timetable and resources that McChrystal must labor under have been deliberately mismatched to the strategic objectives by the Obama administration to a degree best described as “asinine”.

That said, frustrated, straight shooting, honest to a fault and zealous Army commanding generals should not be encouraged to vent their grievances on the record to reporters. Especially about their civilian political superiors. Good things are not going to happen.

Still less should their intensely loyal inner circle and brain trust staff officers come across as “A band of McChrystal’s profane, irreverent aides ” mocking the Vice-President of the United States. While there’s no shortage of things to mock about Joe Biden, active-duty military officers should not be doing it in major media publications. These are the guys who should be running interference for their boss with the press, not making him look worse.

I have sympathy for General McChrystal. There are people in DC who do not have to be accountable as he does, but possess enough authority to get in his way, demand information, waste his people’s time, leak criticism, impose restrictions or whisper in ears and they do not have to accept any responsibility whatsoever for the results of their machinations. It must be intensely aggravating.

But going out and handing these folks knives ain’t smart.


Danger Room reports McChrystal has issued an apology.


SWJ has a round-up.


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