Stanley McChrystal

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There’s a saying in the Army: Only do what your rank can handle. It’s safe to say that if  4-Stars can’t handle something, nothing can.

When I first caught wind of the article in Rolling Stone, my first thought was: Why are Soldiers allowed to talk to journalists from Rolling Stone? I was absolutely astounded when I found that General McChrystal gave “unprecedented access” to Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings.

Reading the article, I immediately catch a whiff of burnt cannabis in the air, and a tone that can’t wait to rile up some muck. It reminds me to some extent of the works of another Rolling Stone journalist named Evan Wright of Generation Kill fame.  The style is slightly raunchy, almost in the Beat Poet genre. In revels in pointing out the basest aspects of human nature. The style feels obligated to quote only when the language is profane. And let’s consider the title: 

The Runaway General

Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House

Seems obvious that Hastings wanted to stir some people up. And he succeeded.

This is not to say that it is not true and an excellent piece of journalism. Afterall, even McChrystal has not denied the truth of the article’s content. And I must also commend Michael Hastings’ conclusions in regards counterinsurgency and the fact that he quotes highly regarded critics of CI, such as Douglas Macgregor.

But aside from the journalistic qualities of the piece, let’s think about the “outrage” that’s flowed from many in the press and resulted in McChrystal’s resignation.

First, the accusations of McChrystal being insubordinate are overblown. I can find nothing in the article that points to McChrystal making contemptuous remarks toward the President. On one occasion McChrystal does tell a subordinate that he found President Obama to be unprepared for a meeting and intimidated by the military. Few can doubt that President Obama may find the military slighty intimidating. Many people in the military find the military intimidating. If it was McChrystal’s opinion that the President was unprepared for a meeting, can he not say so to a subordinate when asked how the meeting went?

If people in the upper ranks of our military want to know what people really think in the military ranks, they should visit a bathroom stall on a military installation; the only place a Private doesn’t have to kiss ass is while he’s wiping his own.

But as the great line in ” A few Good Men” goes: “You can’t handle the truth!”

I’ve always been intrigued by Stanley McChrystal. I see a bit of him in myself; someone who’s a bit impolitic at times, but greatly values personal toughness. But I never thought that McChrystal was the right man for the job. We need someone a bit more intellectual, and Petraeus fits the bill perfectly. Actually, I can’t think of a military bill that Patraeus wouldn’t fit. If Patraeus is the wizard in the high tower, McChrystal is Conan with a bloody sword. Two completely different styles, but both effective in their own way. McChrystal seemed better suited for the black art of hunter–killer missions and as commander of JSOC in Iraq, he helped shatter the leadership of al-Qaeda In Iraq.

I support President Obama’s decision. He has the right to pull McChrystal for any reason, not just this. And when the President said: “I welcome debate but not division”, I thought he was spot on. McChrystal should have known better. Regardless of the motives of Rolling Stone, McChrystal gave them access and Hastings managed to find people who wanted to show off. No doubt McChrystal’s underlings thought they had a confidant in Hastings. But they’re still dumb.

So now the show is handed to the Master. The man who against so much doubt turned the tide in a collapsing Iraq. If anyone can turn Afghanistan around, Patraeus can.

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10 thoughts on “Stanley McChrystal

    Lou said:
    June 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    You would have thought McChrystal would have learned from Val Kilmer’s mistakes/article in Rolling Stone. Obviously, RS likes to stir things up.

    Kernunos said:
    June 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Imagine if Obama had to face Patton. He would have been wetting his trousers. Maybe this was ‘death by pen’ and McChrystal just found an easy way out from a war he couldn’t win playing by White House/Department of Defense rules. Times sure have changed. Obama had to make the choice he did. It was the right choice anyway and if he hadn’t then he just would have shown weakness while his multiple failures hammer away at the shore that is his appearance of competency.

    Amos Volante said:
    June 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Add him to the list of greats brought down by Washington pussies:

    1. Douglas MacArthur

    2. George Patton

    3. Chesty Puller

    4. Stan McChrystal

    May their careers rest in peace, to be exonerated by soldiers, marines, and taxpayers…

    Kernunos said:
    June 25, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Is this one of the changes that McChrystal wanted along with more men? Maybe his resignation was not in vain. Oh, that July 11th start of the pull out date is getting awfully close. Think we’ll have total victory by the 10th? Even the hint of a pull out will help the moral of the insurgents. I’m sure they have their calendars marked.

    Kernunos said:
    June 25, 2010 at 8:20 pm
    Amos Volante said:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Why must we all play dumb, as though we think a mere 4 star general really gets to pick the ROE?

    The rules of engagement were set by the White House, not Stanley McChrystal. That’s why he was pissed off. That’s why he resigned, and that’s why they might change a teeny tiny bit.

    If the ROE gets changed then maybe McChrystal’s resignation wasn’t a total waste.

    Sure makes the prez look like a dumbass though. A slight change in ROE might make the troops feel good, but it won’t do shit. You can’t fight war with the goal of coming out ahead, you either come out on top, or you’re just jerking off.

    And I do not personally consider our prez to be a dummy, as many fellow conservatives do, but fightin’ business is a different business entirely…

    magus71 responded:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Actually, I think he did form the ROEs. There are reports that battle commanders misinterpreted many of the orders, though. Patraeus is already looking at changing them. They were FAR too soft-handed.

    “And I do not personally consider our prez to be a dummy, as many fellow conservatives do,”

    No–you voted for him.

    Kernunos said:
    June 28, 2010 at 5:19 am

    “And I do not personally consider our prez to be a dummy, as many fellow conservatives do, but fightin’ business is a different business entirely…”

    Economy-wise he sure is dumb. Anyone that truly believes in Keynesian Economics will work to lift the US economy back up on its feet is sadly mistaken. If those that do create creat policy we are in for a bumpy ride.

    magus71 responded:
    June 28, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I can’t remember worse economic policy. But we asked for this.

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