mc-crystal clear, not

Joseph Blady
Washington, DC

The Rolling Stone article presents a picture of a man who has pressed against the envelope of appropriate behavior his entire life. There are those who might find raucous behavior at a service academy laudable. There might be a certain bravado exuded by a staff that behaves like the spoiled entourage of a rock group. These are not the images that mesh appropriately with the faces of the men and women we look at in the news on a daily basis, people risking their lives to carry out the barren strategy of an arrogant war fighter who seems convinced that he immediately becomes the smartest man in any room into which he has entered. If, in fact, General McChrystal is the man he wants us to believe he is, he will present his letter of resignation upon arrival at the White House and insist it be accepted.
The bigger question remains. Counterinsurgency may suitable where there is a nation and government to be salvaged. Afghanistan has never been a nation, and its government is hardly worth saving. The value of the counterinsurgency strategy was supposedly proven in Iraq. Rather than deluding ourselves into thinking that Iraq was a rousing success, let us examine what was really accomplished. General Petraeus and General McChrystal proved only that which was already obvious, that we cannot be beaten militarily if we choose not to be. This is again being proved in Afghanistan, but, like Iraq, it has nothing to do with a successful outcome.
I have read General Petraeus' counterinsurgency manual. It is merely that, a primer on counterinsurgency. I'm sure that it is valuable reading for any young officer, but it is generic, and has nothing to do with either Iraq or Afghanistan, which, at their heart, are socio-political problems that happen to have a military component.
The irony is that General McChrystal, while wrong about the applicability of counterinsurgency doctrine in Afghanistan, is correct to point out that our national security team is broken. So is the ability of Congress to bring any cogent strategic thinking to bear on the problem. The State Department leadership seems to have failed to stand behind Ambassador Eikenberry's prescient analysis of our problems in Afghanistan. General Jones appears absent from public discussion of the way ahead. The political parties are interested only in making hay from each other's mistakes. But no one takes a moment to think about what we're doing in Afghanistan. There are men and women dying. Dying. To what end? Take a look at Somalia, Mali, Ethiopia, Sudan, Lebanon, Gaza, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea, and tell me that once we secure Afghanistan, our troubles are over.
Yes, General McChrystal deserves to be sacked. But there are a whole lot of people who ought to be going with him.

Don Williams

1) Most of the derogatory comments were attributed to General McChrystal's aides. But even those comments are MINOR compared to
the continual leaks in Washington designed to undermine and sabotage
General McChrystal's mission.

2) The leaked memo by Karl Eikenberry last year was bad enough. But the recent leak re geological discoveries in Afghanistan was unforgivable. Does anyone think the Taliban are going to negotiate a surrender or compromise after being informed that they are sitting on a gold mine? That if they win, they will possess the "New Saudi Arabia"??

3) That information will motivate the Taliban to fight like furies. And thousands more American soldiers will die as a result.

4)General McChrystal has to write the letters to the families of soldiers killed by President Obama's inability to maintain responsible discipline within the White House.

5) General McChrystal should resign. Not because of the Rolling Stone article --but because obviously he and his mission has not had the support of the White House for some time. Soldiers are dying for a political Kabuki Dance --not to achieve a real and worthwhile objective.
If Obama was serious, these leaks would not be occurring.

Chuck Beria
New York

"Mr. Obama, who summoned General McChrystal to the White House on Wednesday, must either fire his top commander or send him immediately back into the field with a clear mandate to do his job," reads a NYT editorial.

A "clear mandate"? Oh, really? "Clear" by whose standards? And who is to define what such "mandate" is? The New York Times op-ed board?

What, really, would constitute one such "clear mandate" in Afghanistan? Nine years into the never-ending war, the Taliban is stronger than ever, Al-Qaeda is still very much alive, Osama Bin Ladin is nowhere to be found (and once he did get found, the Bush administration deliberately let him slip thru), the totally corrupt regime which does not enjoy even a modicum of legitimacy and popular support is still in power, and the cronyism, massive embezzlement and violent crime exceed anything seen on the face of the earth since the Man first walked out of the cave.

And how would the mandate become "clear". Would we have a public plebiscite? Would the President address the nation and seek its support for McChrystal's return to Afghanistan?

There is ONLY ONE AND ONE ONLY reason why Gen. McChrystal should be returned to Afghanistan in his current role: to prepare Afghanistan as a staging ground for our invasion of Iran. This, and this alone, is the reason why the Obama's administration has been foot-dragging and backpedaling for two years on its commitment to withdraw from Afghanistan. All this nonsense about nation- and democracy- building in Afghanistan, fighting terrorist and etcetera...is something not even the most naive believe anymore.

In short, the only reason why McChrystal should not be sacked is that we need him for the impending invasion on Iran.

Having said this, I comfortably predict that Obama will retain General McChrystal and have him "redeem" himself in the major global conflict to come. Of course, there will be harsh words, public chastisement, possibly even a slight demotion, but that's all Hollywood. The unwashed masses are not as dumb as our rulers would like to believe.

Neil D
Kalamazoo, MI

One wonders why the US military needs these wars so much. Is it because they have been exposed as ineffectual and incompetent by a bunch of low-tech militias over and over again? Lebanon (1982), Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan should have taught them they can't win fights in foreign territory against religious fanatics. And yet they try and try again.

When Americans suffered the trauma of 9/11 we looked to our military to avenge those deaths. We ignored the fact that the military allowed our largest city to be attacked from the air and decided to give them another chance. And now it's clear they've been screw ups for nearly 8 1/2 years.

Let's admit they haven't a clue how to win and bring them home. I've had enough revenge.


Military Generals are some of the most competent people around. The vast majority are promoted due to their ability, not through political maneuvering. By all accounts these remarks were made informally and would not have been printed by a responsible journalist. But the remarks do give one an indication of how our military feels about the "clowns" in the White House. "Bite me", indeed.

Brian Moore

General McChrystal arguably has one of the most difficult jobs on the planet, leading an international coalition of so-called allies in Afghanistan. Our efforts there may not be successful. If there is failure, he will surely be one of the officers to take the blame.

During my time in Iraq, I have heard soldiers of all ranks from Private to Colonel make off key remarks at one time or another. As an officer, I dismissed most of these as necessary venting. So the General's human in a war zone. He made some remarks among his staff in country. To a General, his staff is like his family, and a good staff officer allows his commander to vent and doesn't go around telling people about it. If I where the war correspondent, I wouldn't have published those remarks. They have nothing to do with covering the war, unless you want to discredit the leadership. Sometimes venting is necessary, then we all get back to doing our jobs, however difficult, thankless and dangerous they may be. I think all veterans know this, but the general public may not.

Ralph Adam Fine

We need generals who are not afraid to speak--sadly, the history of civilian no-dissent control over the military has been abysmal: viz. Truman and MacArthur (read Wm. Manchester's unbiased account in American Caesar); Johnson and McNamara lying to Congress and to the American people (read Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster, an active-duty army officer); and, of course, Bush2’s “yes men” who allowed him to get us into two horrific wars without end. Sadly, the media is largely complicit because they are so superficial (Martha Raddatz’s “report” on ABC’s Good Morning America this morning (6-22-10) was paradigm). Ugh! As Edward R. Murrow observed, “a nation of sheep begets a government of wolves.” Unfortunately, the so-called “watch dogs” are asleep.


As an old retired infantry officer and West Point grad, I learned long ago that there are "political" generals - those that know how to play the inside the beltway game (Wes Clark, Petreus) and there are "warrior" generals - those that know how to kill and win wars (Schwartzkopf, Franks). Both types are needed for an effective military. McChrystal is the latter when the former is needed. And for that reason he must be replaced. Thanks for your service, now move on to civilian life.

Keith Ensminger
Merced, CA

This is one case where we ought to shoot the messenger. These guys were unwinding in a bar, joking and talking shop in an informal setting where booze helps unwind sarcasm. Obama should call the reporter on the carpet and, like Joseph Welch said to Senator Cohn during the McCarthy witch hunts, tell the reporter, "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"


The General just might want out of this half baked war effort enough that he made his comments knowing full well he would be fired.

Better to go with all the flags flying than as a lap dog.


I must say that I am stunned at these remarks from General McChrystal and his staff. My previous impressions of the General have been favorable. I thought his strategy in Afghanistan was well-thought out, and he presents himself as very disciplined. In light of these impressions, it is absolutely confounding to read these remarks, and to know that he had an opportunity to challenge the content of the article before it went to press. Clearly, General McChrystal is a man who would understand the concept of chain of command, so it is particularly disturbing to hear of the General and his staff as reportedly seeing "the real enemy" as being "those wimps in the White House". One can only wonder what the General's response would be if his staff viewed him as "the real enemy"?

Secondly, given McChrystal's apparent intelligence and grasp of strategy, one can only wonder about the motives behind all of these comments, and his failure to challenge the content of the article prior to its release. Was this simply a colossal blunder in judgment, or is there some underlying strategy to what he MUST have known would create a firestorm of controversy back home. To blatantly stab the Commander-in-Chief in the back seems to force Mr. Obama to recall the General in order to disprove the McChrystal staff view of White House weakness. If this is the case, then one could reasonably ask what the point of such a challenge would be. If it is to be relieved of command because the General fears his strategy in Afghanistan is likely to fail, then one could reasonably ask who is REALLY the one who is covering his backside for face-saving or political purposes.

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