Afghanistan crisis over McChrsytal super gaff

It was all the fault of that  smoking volcano. Gen Stanley McChrystal, the  gung-ho US commander in Afghanistan found himself grounded and on a coach to Paris with a journalist from Rolling Stone, a mildly radical magazine. The career suicide note is a long but riveting read.  His may be the biggest US military sacking since McArthur.  Better that than the slow fade of LBJ’s generals Westmoreland and Abrams in Vietnam when they kept asking for just another few thousand troops more.

General Creighton W. Abrams, switched to counterinsurgency to thwart the guerrillas in the villages rather than continue to fruitlessly chase them in the jungle. “Abrams brought to the post a markedly different outlook on the conflict and how it ought to be conducted,” argued Sorley, switching from “search and destroy” to “clear and hold.”

Ah, so that’s where I heard  it all before…

What is it with these austere military types like McChrystal who boast of only sleeping four hours a night and eat one meal a day? So said his PR men who built him up and then dropped him in it from a great height. Like a missile from a drone you might say. So anyway he gets to Paris ” the most un-McChrystal-like of cities,” and he and his staff get ratarsed in Kitty O’Shea’s pub and blab.  So much for good judgment and four star military discipline. 

More seriously the interview shows a crumbling Afghanistan policy, presaged already by this week’s removal of the influential British envoy Sherard Cowper-Coles. As British fatalities reach 300, is McChrytal out there on his own with his faltering surge?  Beneath the beer- lite indiscretions, this feels like a crisis of confidence. Obama and Cameron should fess up fast.


  • Kathy C

    Tomorrow when the general gets off the plane in the US he should be met by military police. It is insubordination that a general speaks in public like he did regarding his commander and chief along with such disrespect to the vice president and members of the Cabinet. The general also said nasty things about the French…and it is the French who are fighting and have incurred losses as well as the US and uk. The general should be discharged from the military and down several rankings.

  • Cynic

    Yeah Kathy, lock him up for exposing that the American Emperor of the Left has no clothes, no ideas and is surrounded by stooges who don’t know what they are doing. And saying nasty things about the French – heaven forfend!

    From the Gulf of Mexico (rampant anti-British xenophobia and no mention of the US company that owned the rig and the US company that ran it and, we learn, was told of a leak in the blow out preventer 2 weeks before it failed) to collapsing domestic policy, Obama appears weak, indecisive and just not up to the job,

    Economically the saviour of the Dollar has been the weakness of the Euro and other currencies and the decision of the Chinese to break the fixed Yuan / Dollar link. The Americans think this is great for the US trade imbalance but in reality it exposes US economic weakness and will cause the Chinese to run down their exposure to US debt pushing up interest costs.

    Strangely absent from the middle of this mess has been the blessed Hilary. Just where is she? Is she still in State?

  • Tell the truth and shame the devil, so the saying goes. McChrystal told the truth about a President ever in need of a scapegoat.

    It seems the President has a lot to learn about actual work and how to do it. The Whitehouse aint Chicago.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This stuff about McChrystal telling the hurtful truth is nonsense. This is a group of people who can’t hold their drink.

    Anyone professing to have principle and integrity will know that the correct course of action when dealing with bad leadership from a superior is to resign.

  • Anon

    Quite. It also doesn’t matter if he was right. It remains gross insubordination. This isn’t a politcian, and you an’t have it in the army. Obama probably doesn’t want to do it, but he has to be fired.

  • Rory Carr

    Pippakin is right as usual – “The Whitehouse ain’t Chicago.”

    As every spotty teenage boy growing up in the 70’s well knew the Whitehouse was in fact a much sought after pornographic magazine so named to cock a snook at the censorious Mary Whitehouse. Not of course to be confused with the White House which is the residence of U.S. presidents.

    Chicago, on the other hand, is a musical featuring scantily clad ladies.

    Why President Obama takes the time to amuse himself with such diversions escapes me but perhaps he finds them a welcome escape from bumbling generals and an unwinnable war.

    Can Pippakin enlighten us as to the First Lady’s thoughts on all this ?

  • Framer

    Obama should sack McChrystal who has always looked out of his depth and could not by definition suggest winding up the Afghan war. He should also sack his ambassador in Kabul who was dissing President Karzai for no useful purpose.

    London could then take the opportunity to wander off out of Afghanistan now we know Obama is both shallow and anti-British.

    Just leave a drone base on the Pakistan border.

    The US looks increasingly like a 3rd world country if you visit it. So time for isolationism and winding in the military overstretch.

  • Greenflag

    The Afghan war is unwinnable . It will end eventually like Vietnam did with helicopters lifting out remaining US forces and top Afghani collaborators and ‘quislings’

    The USA needs to impose some ‘democracy ‘ at home where it could actually benefit the American people and not a small cabal of corrupt drug lords in Afghanistan .

    The Afghans have seen off the British twice and the Russians and we should remember that neither of those two imperial powers were ‘democracies’ the former being a halfway house and the latter being a totalitarian regime .

    we now read that 6 days before his term as President ended the former President Bush let the cat out of the bag in a meeting with South American political leaders when he told them that one way to spur economic growth or postpone a recession was to go to war ;(

    Quite . Americans might want to look to Brazil and Norway to see how the ‘oil ‘ industry can be made to benefit ALL the people of the country instead of just a few favoured families like the Bush or Getty dynasties .

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Afghan policy since the redeployment in 2006 in Helmand province when John Reed ‘hoped’ that the British would not have to fire a single bullet has been mared by muddle and confusion.

    It seems incedible, with Birtian was still reeling from being dodgy-dossiered, that a new deployment of troops could be sanctioned without proper debate in the house of commons and without clarity of objectives and arguably the deliberate misleading of Parliament – a second time.

    Still, the British people got what they voted for i.e. they re-elected the Labour party after the Iraq invasion.

    Fool me once etc.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    John Reid

  • “Creating a loose cannon rogue mercenary special ops commander, pissed off and aggrieved in a field full of agents and operatives, is not a ideal smart move.” ….

    And deep within that reply thread you can read …. “You may like to consider that the Lead Theatre of Future Military and ParaMilitary Operations is Virtually Exposed to Destructive Debate as Virtual Reality Operating Systems Offer Unlimited Attractive Addictive Alternate Courses at No Extra Deadly Expense.” …… with whether you would believe that to be real, being of no earthly consequence to those staging events.

  • pinni

    Obama’s dithering on Afghanistan and his subsequent tailored-to-fail strategy has created an even bigger crisis and a situation where the only thing the Taliban has to do to win is to wait it out until Obama withdraws the US military. It’s not the commander who is the problem, it’s the commander-in-chief.

  • pinni

    Talking about the French, it reminds me of something I once read:

    A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, ‘Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?’

    Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, ‘Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.’

  • pinni

    ‘Out of his depth’, my foot!

    ”Gen. Stanley McChrystal is a hero—a selfless, fearless and inspiring soldier. He is also something of a military genius. In Iraq, as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003-2008, he created an extraordinary military operation.

    His command center—a vast open hall resembling the floor of a trading exchange—put long-haired civilian geeks next to wiry commandos, and together they uncovered, analyzed, pooled and acted on information that enabled soldiers to launch successful operations at a moment’s notice. They did so in ways that only a few years ago would have required weeks of preparation and rehearsal. He is one of the fathers of victory in Iraq, because his organization dismantled the leadership of al Qaeda there. Few Americans know, or will know, how well he has served this country—and as a shrewd, humane commander, not merely a lethal one.”

    Sack him anyway!

  • Rory Carr

    Why should I be surprised its been raining all day.

    It seems I made a mistake and called the White House the ‘whitehouse’ so sorry.

    I bow to your expert knowledge on what spotty boys consider suitable bed time reading. I have spent a life time carefully, in some instances, not finding out.

    As for a general who went out and got plastered, I daresay most adults have done that. His mistake was in the company he chose.

    Im not interested in the diversions of yet another career politician. I suggest you buy the National Enquirer or similar to find out. You might also look there to find out what Mrs Obama may or may not think of all this.

    I think Obama is failing the US and since he chose McChrystal he must take responsibility for his failure.

    Thank you for saying I was right as usual, but I think you may be confusing me with you. If you checked, even here on Slugger, you would find that I have apologized several times to those I have either misjudged, or given wrong information.

    As for a general who went out and got plastered. I daresay most people have done that. His mistake was in the company he chose.

  • Greenflag

    ‘It’s not the commander who is the problem, it’s the commander-in-chief.’

    Rubbish – Afghanistan was lost when Bush decided to ignore it back in 2003 and focus the Iraqi invasion . By the time Obama got to power Afghanistan was just a small area around Kabul in which Karzai was recognised as having some authority.

    The ‘taliban ‘ strategy of waiting it out will prove the winning strategy unless the Americans can afford to put a 700,000 man army into the field which is now unconscionable given the state of the USA economy and the further possibilities of conflict with both North Korea and Iran .

    Stretched is an understatement in this case . The USA is in this position lest we forget due to the ‘nutters’ on the neo con right who interpreted the fall of the USSR as the victory of ‘capitalism ‘ That it was indeed but not American Capitalism rather Chinese authoritarian one party control capitalism .

    It’s the dumbing down finally coming home to roost :(((

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    No its not the fault of the smoking volcano of a General.
    Its the fault of the Pentagon Press Office….and the Media.

    The Press people made a serious error in giving such access to a reporter not in the inner core of accreditted Defence Correspondents.
    Basically a Politician of Footballer would be stupid to give access to a News Reporter rather than keep it all “in house” with a Political Lobby Correspondent or Football Correspondent who could be relied upon to know that what happens in a Kitty OSheas bar/a fact finding mission to Bangkok/ or the Chelsea FC training pitch/ stays there.

    Give a News Reporter that degree of access, drink flows, “on and off” record becomes blurred and a news story is created.
    No crocodile tears for this General.
    He will have a lucrative career rubbishing Obama on Fux News with Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Shaun hannity.
    Its his pension fund.

  • pinni

    I think it’s Sean Hannity. Those blinking Irish-Americans! Always causing trouble.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    No I meant Seans lesser known cousin ……er Shaun 🙂

  • pinni

    In the WSJ article entitled Why McChrystal Has to Go the author gives a pretty cogent summary of some of the reasons why Obama can no longer blame Bush on his own mistakes:

    The Obama administration has made three large errors in the running of the Afghan war.

    First, it assembled a dysfunctional team composed of Gen. McChrystal, Amb. Karl Eikenberry and Amb. Richard Holbrooke—three able men who as anyone who knew them would predict could not work effectively together. …

    The second error lies in the excruciating strategy review of last fall. Internal dissension spilled into public, making it clear that Vice President Joe Biden took a very different view of the war than the Defense Department and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The competitive leaking, sniping and bickering that pervaded the review worsened the climate of command and undoubtedly left Gen. McChrystal and his team unnerved.

    The third, and fatal, error came in Mr. Obama’s West Point speech in December. He put his own ambivalence about the Afghan war on public view and then announced that he would begin a withdrawal in July 2011. This blunder demoralized his own side while elating the enemy and encouraging Afghan friends and neutrals to scramble to make their accommodations while they could.

    Fresh from an unexpected but welcome victory in Iraq, engineered by Petraeus and McC and the Odierno guy, Obama nevertheless still managed to goof it. It’s becoming quite a trend for Obama, and being noticed, as reflected in his plummeting poll numbers.

  • Greenflag

    He’s gone . Obama had no other choice . Can’t have the military being seen to have scant respect for the civil authorities . Not exactly a re run of Truman and MacArthur.

    A truly ‘stupid’ incident and one which should never have seen the light of day .

  • pinni


  • Greenflag

    Hannity and O’Reilly are both IINO’s . Irish in name only . Most people in Ireland would’nt cross the street to spit at either .
    Along with Beck this lot are the biggest trio of gobshites between Long Island and San Francisco ;(

  • Rory Carr

    He’s gone anyway (probably because Obama read all those comments on Slugger saying he should be sacked and ignoring those who said he should stay):

    Breaking News Alert
    The New York Times
    Wed, June 23, 2010 — 1:30 PM ET

    Gen. Stanley McChrystal Is Relieved of Command in Afghanistan, White House Official Says

    President Obama has decided to remove Gen. Stanley A.
    McChrystal as the top American commander in Afghanistan, and
    have Gen. David H. Petraeus, his superior and the chief of
    the United States Central Command, take the role himself, a
    White House official said. The president is expected to
    announce the changes from the Rose Garden this afternoon.

    Read More:


  • Damian O’Loan

    “McChrystal travels to the White House for a high-level visit by Hamid Karzai. It is a triumphant moment for the general, one that demonstrates he is very much in command – both in Kabul and in Washington.”

    I would guess this is the phrase which did most damage. It strikes me that the journalist went a little far, having been employed mainly to point out that McChrystal’s only weakness was a fondness for human rights that soldiers, British notably, couldn’t grasp – because the “only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan – and he wasn’t hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny.”

    COIN, or the British version of it, is available on Wikileaks. The US version is McChrystal’s work. It completely disregards any separation between the executive, legislature and judiciary, and requires the participation of all three. It places the state in constant warfare against an enemy so loosely defined as to cover anyone – resident citizens included. It views human rights concerns as mere obstacles alongside media, note the General’s role in ‘black operations’. The capture of ‘hearts and minds’ has clearly evolved into using state terrorism and soft power to convince the host nation into submitting to the will of its sponsors. Given that will has no clear aim or end other than global hegemony, we ought to be asking some questions.

  • Brian


    A simiilar story:

    De Gaulle had just made his demand that NATO would have to evacuate their bases in France. He was on the phone with President Johnson and told him that all his US soldiers would have to leave as well.

    Johnson answered “What about the hundreds of thousands buried there?”

  • Brian

    “Out of his depth”

    It would be accurate if you were referring to President Obama.

  • Brian

    3rd world country? I live here. Come visit. I can assure you that even a declining US beats any 3rd world country, and IMO almost all of the top countries. Certainly the UK, for one.

  • Brian

    I generally agree with everything you bring up in this post. However, I don’t think “rampant anti-British xenophobia” is accurate. He is blaming BP and bringing them up at every opportunity, yes. He is at a loss as to what else to do, that much is obvious. Blaming Bush was getting old he needed someone else to take the blame.

    I don’t think that is the same as anti-british.

    As for McChrystal, he showed a serious lack of judgement. His role in the cover up of Tilman’s friendly fire death was serious enough to warrant some sort of official reprimand, IMO. You may not have heard of that over there. But the important thing is only this, “Is he the man for the job?”. Who knows, but even if he is Obama’s ego is too big to let him get away with this.

  • Brian

    My cousin was in the audience at West Point. He told me many of his fellow cadets expressed bewilderment after that speech.

  • Brian


    Have you ever heard Michael Savage??

  • Greenflag

    Michael Savage is an Alias . The ‘real ‘ Michael Savage the one who called Helen Thomas the 90 year old doyen of the White House Press Corps is none other than

    Michael Alan Weiner

    Born: 31-Mar-1942
    Birthplace: Bronx, NY

    Gender: Male
    Religion: Jewish
    Race or Ethnicity: White
    Sexual orientation: Matter of Dispute
    Occupation: Radio Personality, Author

    Nationality: United States
    Executive summary: Savage Nation

    Michael Savage is far right talk show host, broadcasting from San Francisco, and syndicated nationwide. He was born Michael Weiner, and lived most of his adult life as a closeted conservative in generally liberal circles. Weiner’s father was a Russian-Jewish immigrant. A perpetual student through the 1960s and 70s, he collected four degrees: biology, anthropology, ethnobotany, and nutritional ethnomedicine. Before becoming Michael Savage, he authored more than a dozen books.

    One of his books was a work of fiction called Vital Signs, in which the protagonist wrestles with his attraction to masculine beauty. “I choose to override my desires for men when they swell in me”, Weiner wrote, “waiting out the passions like a storm, below decks.” At one time, Weiner self-published his own zines featuring inflammatory pieces about gay sex at San Francisco bathhouses. He was apparently opposed to such things. But he was a friend of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, the very, very out gay author of Howl. In a 1970 letter to Ginsberg, someone signed Michael Weiner described a semi-erotic encounter he had had with another man in Fiji. Weiner says he did not write the letter, though the return address was in Honolulu, where Weiner resided at the time. Savage now describes his one-time friend Ginsberg as “latrine slime,” and says that upon hearing of his death, “I clasped my hands together and prayed to God. I said, ‘Thank you, God, for answering my prayers. One of the blights of the human race is gone.'”

    Other friends of Weiner from the 1970s remember him as “this hip guy who’d been traveling in the South Seas, finding ways to use tropical plants to help end diseases.” But eventually Weiner un-mellowed. He started carrying a gun, and he would unexpectedly engage acquaintances in loud, rude arguments. In short, he was a natural to become a talk show host

    “Savage’ like a lot of these neo con nutters is a charlatan . The fact that 10 million Americans listen to his shite does not surprise . Even many more millions listen to the shite of O’Reilly and Hannity on Fox .

    Maybe O’Reilly’s real name is not O’Reilly but Samuel Idiotowitz? and perhaps Hannity is really Cheney’s bastard child by Sarah Palin’s mother ?;(

  • Greenflag

    Correction ,

    The ‘real ‘ Michael Savage’ the one who called Helen Thomas the 90 year old doyen of the White House Press Corps a ‘nazi hag ‘ and his friend Ginsberg ‘latrine swine’ .

    ‘Michael Savage is an Alias ‘

    But NOT (probably) the Alias who posts some occasional cogent pieces here on slugger 😉

  • Brian

    He is out there. I listened to him when I was doing a bit of driving a few summers ago. Entertaining, yes. Mildly insane? probably

    He got a PhD from Berkely in nutrition or something like that but seems to have become unhinged in the decades since. I find it ironic he lives in San FranSICKo.

    On feather in his cap was his hatred of Bush. But other than Pat Buchanan and Barry Goldwater, I’m not sure if he liked anyone.

  • Out of his depth? You must be referring to Obama, who would be ‘out of his depth in a puddle…

  • pinni

    Damian, you don’t know what you are talking about. McChrystal’s policy of “courageous restraint” is being challenged by Petraeus. Senior officers believe that Gen McChrystal’s tactical directives were too rigid and led to unnecessary coalition deaths.

  • yenor galazio

    My friend you have a very clear vision of what is going on in the USA.
    My congratulations.
    May be Obama think the same way as Bush does. To postpone a recession may be USA will start a new war. May be against Mexico?

  • Greenflag

    I’ve never heard him but have seen his website . Mildly insane is putting it( no pun intended) mildly . Barking mad more likely . Probably 99.99 % of Jewish Americans would be embarassed to have to admit that his background is jewish which is probably about 20% higher than the number of Irish people embarrassed by the crude stupidity and ignorance of messrs O’Reilly and Hannity . Irish Americans may be slightly more forgiving of these crude ideologues . A pair of chancers with all the depth of a goldfish bowl and of about the same depth as Mr Weiner’s a.k.a Savage :((((

  • Big Maggie

    Er, is it me or do “McChrsytal” [sic] and “super gaff” [sic] make amazing bed-companions?

    Time to get rid of that subeditor, Brian? :^)

  • pinni


  • yenor galazio

    Dear Mr. Brian:

    Do not look back to the past. It is not the same today.
    Look to the future ( year, months may be ). May be a new war in wich you are going to fight. May be that is what is going to happen.
    The USA debt will question your optimism.
    TRILLIONS of dollars are not billions. Ten zeros my friend.
    And you are going to pay for. You all americans. May be the BRICs too.