22 June 2010

General McChrystal's interview

This is the reportage in Rolling Stone that may have brought the career of General McChrystal, commander of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to an abrupt end. Seems a shame because:
The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Parkesque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority.
McChrystal is a snake-eating rebel, a "Jedi" commander, as Newsweek called him. He speaks his mind with a candor rare for a high-ranking official. He asks for opinions, and seems genuinely interested in the response. He gets briefings on his iPod and listens to books on tape. He went out on dozens of nighttime raids during his time in Iraq, unprecedented for a top commander, and turned up on missions unannounced, with almost no entourage. "The fucking lads love Stan McChrystal," says a British officer who serves in Kabul. "You'd be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like 'Who the fuck is that?' And it's fucking Stan McChrystal."
The paragraph that the American pundits think will sink him is the following:
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."
So, comments by 'sources familiar with' and an unnamed adviser to the general are, according to the pundits, sufficient to tip the balance against McChrystal. Wouldn't have thought so - more likely the general himself has had enough of a campaign he can't win and was subconsciously looking for a way to go out in a blaze of maverick glory.

1 comment:

  1. What journalists don't seem to notice is the connection between Afghanistan and Iraq. The original American 'in-and-out' strikes against the Taliban were demoralizing to them, but then, due to Iraq, they had reasonable time to restock and retrain. Counting the Punjab, they must have a near inexhaustible supply of rural recruits. For the Staff level people, US troubles in Iraq must have made very interesting reading. As did the usual American 'Can Do' attitude which generally changes to a 'Have To Go Now'piece of politics.