Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The End Of Afghanistan

Larry Johnson - We’re done in Afghanistan and so is General Stan McChrystal. McChrystal, who has been on the frontlines of combatting Islamic extremists since 2003 when he was put in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command, has self-destructed with the help of Rolling Stone Magazine. McChrystal’s problem? He’s not a politician and spoke candidly about his political masters to a journalist. That’s a no-no if you want to stay in your job.
Here’s the nuts and bolts of what’s going on:
The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan is being called to the White House for a meeting with President Obama after issuing an apology Tuesday for an interview in which he took shots at top administration officials and his staff described the president as unprepared for their first one-on-one encounter.
In the article in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone, Gen. Stanley McChrystal also said he felt betrayed and blind-sided by his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.
McChrystal’s comments are reverberating through Washington and the Pentagon after the magazine depicted him as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration.
It characterized him as unable to convince some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the nation’s longest-running war and dejected that the president didn’t know about his commendable military record.
In Kabul on Tuesday, McChrystal issued a statement saying: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”
McChrystal has been called to the White House Situation Room on Wednesday to explain his comments to the magazine directly to the president, a senior administration official told Fox News. Normally, he would appear on a conference call for a regular strategy session.
The general was making a flurry of calls and decisions in the wake of the article’s publication. Fox News has learned that he fired the press aide, Duncan Boothby, who booked the interview. McChrystal also called Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen late Monday to apologize. Mullen told the general he was deeply disappointed, according to a senior military official at the Pentagon.
He has since spoken with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, both of whom were described as attention-seekers by an aide in the article. Kerry said afterward that he has “enormous respect” for the general, while a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly said Karzai “strongly supports” McChrystal and his strategy.
McChrystal is expected to reach Washington early Wednesday.
The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start. Obama called McChrystal on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops.
“I found that time painful,” McChrystal said in the article, on newsstands Friday. “I was selling an unsellable position.”
It quoted an adviser to McChrystal dismissing the early meeting with Obama as a “10-minute photo op.”
“Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. The boss was pretty disappointed,” the adviser told the magazine.
Gee, Obama clueless about his military chiefs? How can that be (SUPER SNARK)?
You can read the full article here. (You also should take a look at Ed Morrissey’s piece at Hot Air).
McChrystal’s chain of command goes through David Petraeus. While Barack is ostensibly Commander-in-Chief, Petraeus is McChrystal’s immediate boss and should be disciplining his ass for this article. But that’s not going to happen. McChrystal is now a political football and will have to make some decisions. Is he going to pretend that he did not believe what he is reported as saying in the Rolling Stone article? If he does then the thing that has made McChrystal unique–a man of great integrity–will be tarnished.
The real damage here is that this distraction will ultimately make it impossible to sustain our effort in Afghanistan. I know there has been a lot of hand wringing about the continued war in Afghanistan and suggestions that we are losing. But I don’t think that’s true. In the past we always faced a late Spring/Summer offensive by the Taliban. That’s not the case this year (even though our casualties are up). The violence is confined largely to southeastern Afghanistan. We are not in danger of a military defeat.
Politically? That’s another problem. Stan McChrystal understood this part and proposed a strategy based on training and equipping Afghani’s to do the fighting and creating some space where the various Afghan tribes and factions could sort things out. That will be the ultimate outcome. We are not able to impose a government on Afghanistan that is politically palatable to the American people.
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