Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The soft media coup: McChrystal talks shit to Rolling Stone

Posted in Afghanistan, Barack Obama, war, world by allisonkilkenny on June 22, 2010

It's my war, and I'll kill civilians how I want to!

If you asked me what publication General McChrystal, the highest ranking US military official in Afghanistan, would chose to meet with for the purpose of discrediting his Commander-in-chief, I probably wouldn’t have said the same magazine that once featured the fabulous Adam Lambert on its cover.

An article in this week’s Rolling Stone magazine depicts McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to persuade even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war.

Are we talking about the same lone wolf, who admitted to war crimes in March? I can’t imagine why people are refusing to listen to a man who admitted that the US military has “shot an amazing number of people, but to [his] knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.”

This weird story reminded me of Sy Hersh’s statement last year that the military was “waging a war against the White House.”

“A lot of people in the Pentagon would like to see him get into trouble,” he said. By leaking information that the commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the war would be lost without an additional 40,000 American troops, top brass have put Obama in a no-win situation, Hersh contended.

“If he gives them the extra troops they’re asking for, he loses politically,” Hersh said. “And if he doesn’t give them the troops, he also loses politically.”

McChrystal’s, of course, playing innocent now, and he’s apologized to the White House, but it’s hard to believe a man who spends his every waking hour plotting strategy would “accidentally” leak these kinds of whopping gaffs to the press.

It should serve as a reminder to everyone that not all military coups are violent overthrows of a democratically elected president. Sometimes, disgruntled generals can perform “soft coups,” a gradual, sneaky undermining of presidential authority and policy. Oops, did I just mentioned we’re killing civilians to the press? Whoops! Did I just discredit the president to Rolling Stone?

And lest anyone confuse this with whistle-blowing, McChrystal is no activist. He still wants to play war. He just wants to play it by his own rules, and fuck the new, black guy who’s never served before. Who does he think he is, anyway?

Update: When I wrote this post, I hadn’t seen the language McChrystal used in the interview. The specific denigrations he chose to utilize are particularly revealing. This wasn’t a single slip of the tongue, but rather a repeated demonstration of frustration and disrespect by a pissed off man, who sought to undercut individuals — specifically the president — for whom he has zero respect.

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 f-ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.'”

Yes, Obama is clearly a liberal wiener because he didn’t get down on all fours and lick McChrystal’s boots.

“In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk s- 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.’

And there’s more. The interview reads like a sampling of a frat house’s greatest hits:

they called Richard Holbrooke, the administration’s Afghan-Pakistan envoy, a “wounded animal” and “dangerous,” because he might get fired soon; they don’t think much of Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador to Kabul; they referred to the prospect of meeting with a French government official as “fucking gay”; and when someone brought up Joe Biden, McChrystal said “Are you asking me about Vice President Biden? Who’s that?” and then one of his aides said “Biden? Did you say ‘Bite me?’” HA HA GET IT BECAUSE IT SORT OF RHYMES!



There are reports that Duncan Boothby, a civilian member of the general’s public relations team was “asked to resign,” which is just the sort of public execution of an underling one expects to see after a PR disaster like this. McChrystal was the one who said these mutinous statements, and also facilitated an environment in which his aids apparently felt comfortable enough to call the prospect of meeting a French government official “fucking gay,” but the White House will sacrifice Boothby because he didn’t “handle” the message and “shape the narrative” in the correct way.

Update 2: Here’s an interesting theory: Does McChrystal want to get fired for insubordination before his strategy is shown to fail? (Warning: Politico link)

3 Responses

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  1. History Punk said, on June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    If I talked smack to any of my COs, I would be article-15ed. I’d be knocked down a peg in terms of rank, I’d have a nice new LOR in my file, and probably would find myself in a world of other hurt. But I wasn’t a general.

  2. Ignatius Crumwald said, on June 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    The biggest career ending mistake he made was insulting Darth Holbrooke, the guy is a king maker, not an errand boy.
    Just because he couldn’t talk the Pakistanis into dropping their plans to support the IPI natgas pipeline in favor of the TAPI in no way makes him a wounded animal means the agenda failed – that’s what Israel is for, plan b. And fired? What?
    Cordsman and McChrystal have been outsiders from the start. Patreus and Holbrooke have been horning in overtly since April pushing for more troops and pushing the COIN agenda for Pakistan based on their unwillingness to axe IPI. Most US Congressional hawks will be handing a veiled blame at McChrystal for the fact that Afghanistan hasn’t born COIN-fruit and push to “Give Patreus a chance to fix it” no matter how ugly it gets.
    Oh, honey. Lets try out that war again, it’s under new management.

    Predictably transparent and typically shortsighted hamfisted globalist/neocon bullshit. The Ivy league meritocracy has become an inbred circus act of hoop-jumpers and marionettes. The media is nothing but a ringmaster with special needs and a closet full of empty suits.

  3. Brian said, on June 24, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Damn, I’m not even going to try to follow Ignatius’ metaphor there. I was just going to ask whether it’s just because I’ve only been half following the news while I try to finish my dissertation, or is McChrystal’s disaffection with Obama actually getting more attention than did resignations by people like Colonel Ann Wright, John Kiesling, John Brown, Rand Beers, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, and Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who all resigned over the invasion of Iraq, or Captain John Carr, Major Robert Preston, and Captain Carrie Wolf, who all requested reassignments from the Office of Military Commissions because they thought the Guantanamo commissions were ridiculous, or even Jack Pritchard, the State Department’s Envoy to North Korea, who resigned because Bush refused to actually sit down and talk to Pyogyang about holding off on the nuclear weapons bit, or any of the other 50 or so resignations brought on by the Bush administration’s insanity? Like I said, I haven’t been following the news too closely, but the conflict with McChrystal seems to keep coming up…

    By the way, Allison, I think this blog looks way sexier than the one at TrueSlant anyway.

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