Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

In McChrystal article, insults are mostly anonymous, but...

Here's the Rolling Stone article on Stanley McChrystal.

There's no apologizing for the atmosphere that McChrystal appeared to encourage among those close to him. But there are really only a handful quotes that come directly from McChrystal himself that are problematic:

Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. "I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. "Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?"

"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"

And this about Richard Holbrooke:

At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.

The problem for McChrystal is that people around him leaked info from private conversations with the President:

Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan." The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the [expletive] up, and keep a lower profile


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 f***ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."

Even if some of the worse stuff is murkily sourced, McChrystal will have to explain to the White House how it is that he created an atmosphere where people around him felt free to leak info that at best is insulting to the president.

UPDATE, 11:35 a.m.: There's also this from McChrystal himself, about Karl Eikenberry's leaked cable criticizing McChrystal's strategy:

McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. "I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before," says McChrystal, who adds that he felt "betrayed" by the leak. "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'"

By Greg Sargent  |  June 22, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Morning Plum
Next: Stanley McChrystal "scolds" his terrorist hunters


Greg, doesn't posting the PDF of the article in advance of Rolling Stone's publication violate their copyright? Much as I wanted to read the article, I was mindful of the magazine's right to publish for people who actually pay real money to them.

I understand that Politico has taken down the PDF.

Posted by: msmollyg | June 22, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

msmollyg -- they gave me the PDF...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 22, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

McChrystal should be relieved of command.

Posted by: sbj3 | June 22, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

What sbj said.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

actually, msmollyg -- you're right. I've pulled it.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 22, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

OK, Greg. I'm surprised, since they won't put it online, but I'm delighted to read it anyway. Miniscule type :-(

Posted by: msmollyg | June 22, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Fire this dolt so that he can spend more time at the Pubs!

Posted by: roxsteady | June 22, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

A Real General, who did not agree with how his superiors were handling the war, would have resigned before now.

The General got the Troop surge that he asked for, and he got the green light on his counter-insurgency plan.

So far, he has nothing to show for it. Marja has not been pacified, and he has had to keep postponing his highly touted assault on Kandahar.

Keep in mind; This General's fingerprints are all over the Pat Tilman cover up.

Send Stanley packing now.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Sorry folks, but I think this is more complicated than just a thumbs up or down. Yeah, he sounds like a jerk and his aides sound like his fraternity brothers. It would be nice if more brains and class were evidenced.

But, the guy's job is NOT to be a diplomat (at least not completely). Maybe he's in over his head on that side of things. If you get a completely political guy in there you risk going back to the Rumsfeld model where they just tell the WH everything they want to hear, and that's not healthy.

Some adversarial conflict is good in this situation, and I think having a soldier in charge who isn't divorced from the reality of the shiit storm on the ground there is useful. But not knowing how the political game is played is pretty naive.

I'd say that a serious, one-on-one conversation has to happen and a serious chain of command communication that works is essential here.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 22, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Fire. His. Ass. Now.

Posted by: bmcchgo | June 22, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I'd say that a serious, one-on-one conversation has to happen and a serious chain of command communication that works is essential here.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 22, 2010 11:35 AM


The President already went through that with the General, last year. He had a heart to heart with him then, and clearly it did not stick.

He is not only a rogue general, but worse still he is an incompetent one. He has admitted that he knew that Pat Tilman was killed by his own side, when he awarded the cover up medals to Tilman.

Abraham Lincoln would have replaced Stanley. Obama is a student of Lincoln. He should keep firing Generals until he finds his Grant.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

BG, McChrystal fostered an atmosphere where his aides and subordinates felt comfortable leaking private conversations between himself and the POTUS, and other senior administrative staff. What kind of example is he setting for those coming up the ranks? If he is not dealt some swift punishment, a very dangerous precedent will have been set, way passed the implications of Afghanistan. I'm afraid the message will be a lasting one.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The Republican Party wishes to reiterate that it is still outraged at how the people of the Gulf Coast keep victimizing poor BP.

GOP to the People Of The Gulf Coast: Let Them Eat Oil.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The Hubris. Fire McCrystal.

Greg, not sure entirely why, but right now I'm thinking that I'd actually be interested in knowing Colin Powell's take on this. He knows the inside game at the Pentagon and at State, but he's also been, more or less, a politically independent voice.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

All, here's another bad quote from McChrystal:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 22, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

If Harry Truman could fire General MacArthur for running his mouth off, then surely President Obama must fire a far inferior General, for doing the same thing, repeatedly.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Nice pick-up @political wire:

Uniform Code of Military Justice:

"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse


I do not believe that anybody could be inferior to MacArthur. See Tom Ricks's view.

Posted by: phitz | June 22, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

McChrystal needs to go. Not only has he put Obama in the position of having to fire him or validate McChrystal's view that he is a wimp (or pussy in their terms) but his vaunted strategy isn't working and he doesn't have the nimbleness of mind to see that. Eikenberry was absolutely right about Karzai's limitations as a partner--he isn't reliable and is in it for himself and his brother ther narco kingpin. The Afgthan situation goes way beyond military problems and a cowboy like McChrystal is not the person to head up what has to be a much less military-oriented strategy or we will just be mired there forever.

Dump McChrystal Now--he obviously is asking for it.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 22, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm half-expecting Joe Barton to come out and say that the President needs to apologize to McChrystal.

Posted by: KathleenHusseininMaine | June 22, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

How military and top civilian leaders picking at one another during times of war and stress. The back and forth and melodramas have been going on since Washington led our incipient country's revolution while dealing with the Continental Congress.

And don't get me started on the machinations during the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, Civil War, Korea, just identify a few more dramatic examples. Disagreement between the military and civilian government. Hardly a shocker...or shouldn't be, anyway.

I'd argue that the whole thing, while really uncool on McChrystal's part to include WHY ON EARTH he shared such information with Rolling Stone, is more a media sustained event than a real political crisis designed to sell papers and TV ratings. No doubt Obama and his folks have overstepped as well.

I would also point out that the top General has quickly backed down and shown respect for the civilian leadership. Doesn't mean all are friends but that our system continues to work.

Shouldn't that be part of the discussion even if it isn't as much fun for the media...or our rabid right political wingers!?

Posted by: DrLou1 | June 22, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

McChrystal has precious little to gripe about. Obama chose McChrystal's strategy, and gave him the troops he wanted. You can't make the mess Obama's just because Obama gave the general a reasonable target date for being in a position to start drawing down troops. That doesn't make the strategy incoherent, guarantee failure, explain McChrystal's strategic blunders, or much of anything else. McChrystal is launching preemtive attacks at the folks who are increasingly unimpressed with HIS execution of HIS plan, with all the troops HE asked for. Not that the snipers shouldn't also be smacked on a few wrists, but they're just politicians outside the chain of command. McChrystal reports to Obama, Obama gave the keys to McChrystal, and McChrystal has no business blaming Obama for driving the car into a ditch.

Posted by: JoeT1 | June 22, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

He doesn't respect the chain of commen and he's career military and he can't keep his mouth shut - fire him.

Posted by: rlj1 | June 22, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Impeach Obambi and toss his "fellow travelers" out on their a.s.s. None have thye necessary experience to run our national defense. At least Hillary has a set of balls which obviously no one else in Obambi's administration have.

Posted by: emyers12345 | June 22, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Impeach Obambi and toss his "fellow travelers" out on their a.s.s. None have thye necessary experience to run our national defense. At least Hillary has a set of balls which obviously no one else in Obambi's administration have.

Posted by: emyers12345 | June 22, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Commanding Officers have been fired for less. I think McChrystal is looking for a way out. He knows he cannot deliver as he promised. Not only has he lost faith with his superiors, how can he maintain good order and discipline within the rank and file. He should not be fired, he should face a court marshal. He needs to submit his resignation papers. No confidence on him exists at this point.

Posted by: --free1 | June 22, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company