Here is the article that could lose the war in Afghanistan.
I have already booked AEI’s Michael Rubin for today’s show and will try and reach others in the Beltway tribe of Afghanistan experts for the program. (Update: I’ll also be joined by Max Boot, Michael O’Hanlon, and Frank Gaffney.)
If the general is sacked because of bruised egos flowing from a magazine article, the complete lack of seriousness of the Obama Administration will be revealed. There is almost no chance that another similarly committed senior commander would be dispatched with an intention of winning the crucial battle with the Taliban and their Islamist extremist allies.
President Obama is already a non-participant in the “losing” of Turkey. as well as with the isolation of Israel The Rolling Stone piece may provide him the excuse to bolt Afghanistan under the cover of a drone-only strategy. This is the moment when Robert Gates can step up and defend victory by defending the general in private even as he scolds him in public. The vice president may make his only lasting contribution to victory in the war if he too steps up and dismisses McChrystal’s remarks as the ordinary stuff of military-civilian relations, which it most certainly is.
Thank you, Michael Hasting, and whichever staffer allowed the snake into the general’s space.
UPDATE: An email from a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan:
We can all agree that McChrystal was imprudent to allow a freelancer (for Rolling Stone!) access to himself and his inner circle. He has admitted as much. But the hysteria is seriously overwrought:
1. He didn’t undermine civilian control in Afghanistan. Nothing in the article questions the policy set by the president in December. On the contrary, McChrystal and his aides main complaint is that the president’s civilian advisors are undermining the president’s policy. This is significantly different from Fox Fallon, who was fired as CENTCOM commander after that Esquire profile in March 2008 because he disagreed with and undermined President Bush’s policies in the region.
2. He didn’t speak disrespectfully of his chain of command. That chain, remember, runs from McChrystal to Petraeus to Gates to the President. Jim Jones, Dick Holbrooke, and others are unelected staffers and considerably less accomplished than is McChrystal, for that matter. (The same applies to Biden, even though he’s elected.) Plus, McChrystal himself is quoted directly only about Biden and Holbrooke; neither quote is especially critical. The most surprising tidbit to me is that McChrystal voted for Obama…
3. All these blind quotes are basically true, aren’t they? Does anyone in this town disagree that Jones is out of his depth? Or that Holbrooke is a wounded animal? Or that Eikenberry has a serious ego problem, resents his failure to get a fourth star, or blindsided McChrystal with that cable to protect himself?
4. I wouldn’t even concede the blind quotes are accurate. Is Hastings a reliable reporter? I do know that he writes that the surge began in 2006 and that McChrystal was “regimental” commander of 3rd Ranger “Battalion.” One doesn’t need any military knowledge to know these are wrong. How many other errors did he make?
Anyway, that’s the two cents of a low-level veteran!
UPDATE 2: Some background on Hastings, who wrote the piece. .