So . . . the world is abuzz with the words of our Afghan General. He has even reportedly offered to resign over his stupidity. But I think there may be more at play here and it has to do with the war itself.
McChrystal may want out. For political reasons, for his ego and for his legacy. Please follow me below the fold as I explain.
Hearken back to early in the Obama administration . . . when what to do about Afghanistan was one of many hot topics (like Iraq, the economic meltdown, healthcare, etc.) that the administration inherited from Bush/Cheney. Of course, Biden wanted to scale back our troops and work on an exit, but he got push back from some in the Pentagon and, most notably, McChrystal, who wanted a sort of "surge." And there were critics outside of goverment too who questioned the McChrystal plan. Ultimately, Obama relied upon the opinions of the generals and we have seen the troop build up that McChrystal sought. But things have not worked out as McChrystal envisioned (promised?).
The highly touted Marjah offensive has not given the results that were hoped for. Bad news keeps pouring out of Afghanistan and Holbrooke and Eikenberry were shot at by the Taliban on a recent visit to Marjah.
The troop draw down is supposed to start in a little over a year and, as McChrystal and his people admit in the Rolling Stone article, they are not meeting their objectives. So, if you are McChrystal, what do you do?
Well, you could resign quietly and admit you were wrong. But remember McChrystal was a favorite of Bush and Cheney. In fact, that is just the tip of the iceberg that has been reported about McChrystal:
. . . consider these facts:* McChrystal was a personal favorite of George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney; * Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh says that McChrystal ran what Hersh called Cheney’s personal "executive assassination wing";
*Newsweek reported in 2006 that "Rumsfeld is especially enamored of McChrystal's ‘direct action’ forces or so-called SMUs--Special Mission Units--whose job is to kill or capture bad guys...But critics say the Pentagon is short-shrifting the 'hearts and minds' side of Special Operations that is critical to counterinsurgency--like training foreign armies and engaging with locals."* A former interrogator at an American-run prison outside Baghdad called Nama, (soldiers said that stood for Nasty Ass Military Area), told a reporter for Esquire that all of the officers there went by first names only, and that prisoners were repeatedly beaten, and exposed to all of the torture techniques that the Bush administration pretended were only administered by "rogue soldiers."
*The Colonel the interrogator worked for at Nama promised him that the Red Cross would never visit the facility. The Colonel was certain of that because "He had this directly from General McChrystal."* The same interrogator said that the Colonel was fully aware of all of the abuses taking place on the base. Asked by an investigator from Human Rights Watch where the Colonel’s orders were coming from, the interrogator said, "I believe it was a two-star general. I believe his name was General McChrystal. I saw him there a couple of times." * According to Jon Krakauer’s new book, Where Men Win Glory, McChrystal was at the center of the effort to pretend that former football star Pat Tillman had been killed by the enemy, instead of being a victim of friendly fire. At the same time that the general was approving a Silver Star for Tillman, he was cabling the White House, to warn, in secret, that the soldier had actually been killed by his American comrades.
So . . . if his strategy in Afghanistan fails, McChrystal could be blamed. But, if he is fired, he (or surrogates) can say that whoever replaces him didn't carry out the strategy the way he would have. McChrystal can snipe at Obama from the sidelines in support of his political allies. And he no longer has the burden of reading the casualty reports his strategy have generated. If the surge strategy is (by some miracle) successful he (and his political allies) can still take credit. And, of course, the right wing media wind machine will make McChrystal out as a victim who "spoke the truth" in any event. There is no downside to being "forced" out! I think McChrystal wants out of the mess that he is in . . . and Rolling Stone (unwittingly) has provided his "cover."