Posted by Brad @ 1:43 pm on June 23rd 2010

McChrystal Out

By the way, apparently there’s been some other shit going on besides soccer.

It’s being reported that, following a disastrous Rolling Stone interview that prompted a personal meeting with the President this morning, General Stanley McChrystal is out as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Obama is about to speak to announce it. Gen. David Petraeus will take over – not sure if that just rolls McChrystal’s responsibilities into CENTCOM or if someone takes Petraeus’ place there.

Two thoughts: First: With Petraues in, that means this probably won’t signify any change in strategy. The big question is whether McChrystal’s push for more troops will now be softened, or if Obama will have a freer hand in drawing down now that Team America is out.

Second: Not sorry to see McChrystal go. Between torture, Tillman, and his reputed personality defects, he sounds like a Grade-A asshole to me. That said, I’m still not clear why this was such an earth-shattering moment. Nothing he said to Rolling Stone was particularly surprising or out-of-character, at least I didn’t think so. Why this was a resignation moment, I’ve no idea.

Obama on now.


  1. Obama starts out gracious, but then specifically slams him for his conduct unbecoming in the interview. He sounds genuinely pissed off.

    A Rolling Stone stringer just single-handedly brought down the commanding General in an American war. Huh.

    Comment by Brad — 6/23/2010 @ 1:46 pm

  2. Wow, he’s going on and on about it. It really was a conduct issue. Not even trying to play it as based on practical effect.

    Comment by Brad — 6/23/2010 @ 1:47 pm

  3. He’s right. You don’t get to show public disrespect for your CiC. Period.

    My theory on this is that McC did it deliberately as groundwork for a Republican Presidential run.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/23/2010 @ 1:49 pm

  4. Republicans have a hard-on for military decorum and honor; even they, I don’t think, are going to get behind this just because Stan was blasting Obama in the course of being a jackass. When Bill Kristol is throwing you under the bus too…

    I think a cigar is just a cigar here. McChrystal and his team were/are hostile, disrespectful jackasses who viewed anybody not 100% A-1 on board with their cult of personality as being suspect, moronic, or enemies. And they just happened to get locked in a room with a reporter who had no compunction reporting.

    Comment by Brad — 6/23/2010 @ 1:53 pm

  5. I dunno. Seems almost suicidally insane to say that stuff in front of a reporter for a liberal magazine. It’s a General McClellan scenario…

    Comment by Rojas — 6/23/2010 @ 2:08 pm

  6. Ambinder:

    Where some see a conspiracy to influence public opinion, President Obama, according to someone who has spoken with him, found McChrystal to be undisciplined, rather than devious. Being undisciplined is a grevious sin in this White House.

    A bunch of different events, when pieced together, seemed to form a pattern of insubordnation. If you connect the dots, dots look connected. But they really add up to something less interesting but more consequential.

    If there is any pattern here, it is not one of insubordination but of an acute deafness to institutional politics, a condition exacerbated by McChrystal’s insular inner circle, which was used to seeing their boss being treated with complete deference. HE was the guy who went from Colonel to a four star general in six years. He was the guy who revolutionized terrorist hunting. HE was the guy who was not tainted by two taintable offenses: ignoring abuse at Camp Nama and for knowingly participating in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death. The Pope was invincible. The Pope felt invincible. As the Secret Service agent who’s sitting next to me on the Acela would tell you, a lack of discipline is the vice that pays tribute to invincibility.

    Comment by Brad — 6/23/2010 @ 2:08 pm

  7. It’s been absolutely astonishing to watch. I tend to agree with Rojas that it was insane, though I take your point about discipline, Brad.

    He and his minions weren’t just talking smack about the administration and the civilian partners in the counter insurgency effort, which is bad enough to do in public, they were talking about our allies with naked contempt. He has command of their troops, for god’s sake.

    Also, the flippancy with which the war was talked about and the dismissal of civilians as basically time wasters really paints the picture of a command climate that isn’t all that interested in things like the civilian control of the military or winning hearts and minds or working well with others.

    Comment by Liz — 6/23/2010 @ 2:28 pm

  8. I do have to say I’ve been pretty surprised and even a little impressed at the lack of Republican defending of McChrystal. I would sort of expect them to get right on board with what Liz mentions in her second paragraph, but even his biggest defenders (Krauthammer, for instance), think he was way out of line and should at least offer a resignation (but Obama shouldn’t accept it).

    Comment by Brad — 6/23/2010 @ 2:32 pm

  9. Typically to-the-chase Fred Kaplan take:

    McChrystal is clearly a charismatic commander: ascetic, tough as nails, strategically smart, and as demanding of himself as he is of those around him. These sorts of commanders inspire deep loyalty from their inner circle, especially in wartime. In McChrystal’s case, it has inspired idolatry. It’s been widely observed that his aides see themselves not merely as aides but as disciples to a warrior-god.

    If McChrystal’s aides diss the vice president and shake their heads about the president (outraged that Obama didn’t seem to know who Stanley McChrystal was!), it’s a fair bet (though not a certainty) that they’ve heard the man himself make similar remarks.

    In some scenes in the Rolling Stone story, aides make jabs at civilian authority in McChrystal’s presence—with, apparently, no approbation or dissent on the general’s part. (In a statement issued this morning, McChrystal didn’t deny any part of the story; instead, he apologized and expressed “enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team.”)

    What seems clear is that McChrystal has sown, or in any case tolerates, an atmosphere of disrespect for the civilian chain of command. And the fact that his entourage feels free to talk like this in front of not just him but a reporter—much less a reporter from Rolling Stone—speaks volumes about how far they’ve burrowed into their cocoon.

    Comment by Brad — 6/23/2010 @ 2:38 pm

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