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Stanley McChrystal "scolds" his terrorist hunters

Marcy Wheeler argues that this from Stanley McChrystal in the Rolling Stone article is far worse than anything insulting he said about the President or Veep:

Even in his new role as America's leading evangelist for counterinsurgency, McChrystal retains the deep-seated instincts of a terrorist hunter. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. "You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight," McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, "I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though."

In fact, the general frequently finds himself apologizing for the disastrous consequences of counterinsurgency. In the first four months of this year, NATO forces killed some 90 civilians, up 76 percent from the same period in 2009 -- a record that has created tremendous resentment among the very population that COIN theory is intent on winning over. In February, a Special Forces night raid ended in the deaths of two pregnant Afghan women and allegations of a coverup, and in April, protests erupted in Kandahar after U.S. forces accidentally shot up a bus, killing five Afghans.

"We've shot an amazing number of people," McChrystal recently conceded.

Not a lot of discussion of this quote on Morning Joe, however.

By Greg Sargent  |  June 22, 2010; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security  
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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 12:04 PM | Report abuse

that quote is old:

Posted by: andrewlong | June 22, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Andrew -- you're looking at the wrong quote. The key one is the one I bolded.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 22, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Gen McC is currently on his way back to DC with his tail between his legs for a big pow-wow tomorrow.

I think if I were Obama, I wouldn't even meet with him. I'd let SecDef Gates swing the ax. Just for fun, it'd be nice to have Jim Jones there, too.

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

OK, I relent (from previous thread comments). We need a better commander in synch with the CiC and the overall strategy. I'd just feel better if the "overall strategy" was more coherent.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 22, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

yeah, it's pretty cynical, but not in the least surprising, and I don't think more noteworthy than the sense that everything that went into this article adds up to clear insubordination. It would have been great if he said "and I don't want to have to @#$#%@ scold you again." But the truth is, like most of his peers, he accepts even heavy collateral damage as a necessary evil.

Posted by: andrewlong | June 22, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

McChrystal strikes me as some what of a Nut Job.

The NY Time reported, back in 2009, that McChrystal eats only one meal at the end of each day. He sleeps a very short number of hours each night, and exercises so much that it would: "exhaust a gym rat".

Gee, what could go wrong with that regime. Fifty Five years old. Lack of sleep. Lack of proper nutrition. Physical and mental exhaustion, and the burden of unrelenting stress from his command duties.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse


Tom Ricks would rank McChrystal superior to Dugout Doug: In fact, he maintains that MacArthur was the worst US general in our history!

Posted by: phitz | June 22, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Bush/Rumsfeld fired Eric Shinseki for telling the truth.

McChrystal is a failure as a strategist and deeply disloyal to boot,

Fire him--or better yet, court-martial him.

Posted by: big_O_Other | June 22, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama's chosen nut job if he is a nut job.

Poor McChrystal appears to be the latest Obama voter to experience buyer's remorse, if the reporting is to be believed.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Greg, check this out: How Rolling Stone Won The News Cycle And Lost The Story

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

McC gave his own sword for his harakiri when he apologized for his 'bad judgment'. How is a serious war ro be conducted with such a man of questionable 'judgment' ? I hope for once Obama doesn't try his usual conciliatory vanilla crap.

Posted by: amkeew | June 22, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse


Tom Ricks would rank McChrystal superior to Dugout Doug: In fact, he maintains that MacArthur was the worst US general in our history!

Posted by: phitz


MacArthur was an ego maniac, but he did have some big successes. He did a great job in Japan, and he did a great job in driving back the North Koreans out of South Korea. He went haywire after that, with his calls for using nukes against the Chinese etc.

McChrystal, on the other hand, has all of MacArthur's big ego flaws, but no similar big accomplishments.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

@qb: "Poor McChrystal appears to be the latest Obama voter to experience buyer's remorse."

Just wait until Greg et al start to post about why this means we should leave Afghanistan immediately. I'll predict right now that they try to pin "failure" on the general instead of the commander in chief. They'll forget that this is Obama's strategy and Obama's hand-picked General. They'll ignore the fact that the general has NOT disobeyed operational orders from the CiC.

"The president has already declared, albeit with caveats and reservations, that he considers it vital to prevail in Afghanistan.

"...At the very least, this demonstrates Obama’s complete failure to manage the war and to gain the confidence of the military. When this occurs, you can blame the general (again, he’s not disobeying operational orders but merely speaking out of school), but the fault lies with the commander in chief. McChrystal may resign or be fired, but his successor will have the same problems unless the White House gets it act together."

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out...

Posted by: sbj3 | June 22, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

It appears to me the problem is with our failed strategy over there rather than his insubordination. I imagine Obama will find a way to keep him and if not he'll just be replaced with someone with the same blind faith in COIN. I just hope by December we really get an evaluation with some backbone and honesty. Nine years and counting, 1000+ lives, no end in sight.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 22, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

This man is unprofessional, undignified, indiscreet, disloyal, dishonorable, arrogant & unethical AND he doesn't learn from his mistakes. This is his second public whining tantrum. He is a disgrace to his rank, the US Army & US military generally.

He's a "Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld" man - colluded with them on insane Pat Tillman coverup so Bush could exploit Tillman for "Hero" PR on Iraq war. Engaged in & covered up Cheney's war crimes. A good Republican military "liar for hire".

Obama is to blame. He should NEVER have entrusted Afghanistan to a man with his record, ties to previous war abuse & mammoth ego.

Posted by: TruthFairy | June 22, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Already Kerry is saying let's all stay 'cool & calm'.

Gates is saying "McChrystal has apologised to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologise to them as well."

This is a do-or-die moment for Obama.

Posted by: amkeew | June 22, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Sure SBJ,

Obama should not have neglected Afghanistan from 2002 through 2008, to go off and engage in his stupid invasion of Iraq.

Obama really should never have let the Taliban make such a comeback in Afghanistan from 2002 through 2008, while he went off to invade and occupy Iraq.

Yes Indeed. Obama really messed up as Commander In Chief from 2002 through 2008. Your point is well taken, SBJ.

It really makes one wish that Obama had not defeated both Gore and Kerry.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The peoblem is not just with the General or his strategy; it is with the mission as a whole. That is what McChrystal resented so much--Obama evaluating the strategy rather than just take his word for it.

But the counterinsurgency mission is doomed to fail because we are once again taking sides in a civil war. The Taliban are ignorant, backward corrupt people, but they have support from many Pashtuns against the other factions, which are led by largely ignorant, corrupt warlords. No one is really looking out for the ordinary Afghan people, particularly not for the women and children.

There is a reason that Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires. It is a fiercely independent if backward place and no country is going to successfully try to control its destiny. The warlords and their armies who fought the Russians with our help and then fought each other when the Russians left and now are still fighting each other with us in the mix are going to keep fighting because that is all they know how to do and it is what gives their men their identity. There's nothing we can do about that exceept have some very subversive aid programs to educate young girls and support women by microcredit and hope for eventual change. But our money is just corrupting the country and corrupting us as well. It's time to get the military out of there; they can't make things any better but can really make them a lot worse.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 22, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

And yes sbj, I hold Obama responsible for the continuation of this war. I don't think it shows lack of leadership but rather a proclivity to trust the boots on the ground such as McChrystal, rather than his own better instincts. I thought the article really highlighted our folly.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 22, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Reassign him to a dead end post. Do not make him a martyr.

If this General had any class, or sense of honor, he would have already submitted his resignation, and retired.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

All, Eric Cantor's response to the McChrystal story is pretty amazing:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 22, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight," McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, "I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though."

Wow. This guy's a walking cynicism machine. He's not just demonstrating his own insubordination -- he's fomenting it in the ranks.

Posted by: LynnDee227 | June 22, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse


Part of the sweatlodge (RIP, Bilgey) is already scapegoating McChrystal to hold Obama blameless.

Poor Obama just trusts the military too much.

Moonbats, please!

Obama vigorously campaigned on fighting and winning this war.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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