I realize General McChrystal is already tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. The lazy fucking media reports, “GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL SAID . . .” but, if you take time to read the article, McChrystal is not quoted once saying anything disparaging about anyone up his chain of command. Several guys who work on his staff are talking shit, but not Stan. Now, I’m not excusing Stan McChrystal for hiring those assholes or not riding herd on them, but I’m troubled by a key unanswered question–who made the decision to let the Rolling Stone reporter embed with McChrystal?
This was a set up of General McChrystal. While I’m not a personal friend, I worked under his command for several years and know that he frowned on sharing anything with the media. In fact, I’m certain he did not invite the Rolling Stone reporter into his lair. So he did? Was this one of his over zealous staff or was he ordered by someone higher up to give the reporter access?
Yes it is true that McChrystal is apologizing for the information in the article. I know why.
I spend a significant amount of time each year working with U.S. military forces that have the counter terrorism mission. They talk alot of shit when they are among friends. Some of it is rude. Much of it is blue. And it, within the context, is funny as hell. It is a way of blowing off steam. When you put men (and the forces I’m with are 100% male, no females) who are working in life and death situations on a 24/7 basis they do need to blow off steam. Unfortunately, these guys are not President Obama. They can’t play golf when it suits them. They can’t invite Paul McCartney in to sing “Hey Jude.” They can’t host the NCAA Men and Women’s Basketball Champs for a meet and greet. Instead they use crude humor as a release. You get a flavor of that in the Rolling Stone article.
More importantly, they make jokes about political figures and leaders. But it is supposed to be kept in-house. They’ll follow Obama’s orders but they don’t like nor respect him. That’s the reality and some of those feelings expressed by subordinates of McChrystal got out into public.
So far Obama has played this event pretty cool. He’s trying to act Presidential. Good. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. If McChrystal shows up with resignation in-hand and Obama accepts it then McChrystal will soon be outside of the tent pissing in. I don’t think Obama wants that nightmare. Alternatively Obama can refuse to accept the resignation and then, in a gesture magnanimity, forgives McChrystal and sends him back to the fight. If he does the latter it will boost Obama’s standing. American’s love it when a President, like a Roman Emperor at a gladiator circus, gives the thumbs up and saves a warrior.
Meanwhile, this does not answer the question–who let the enemy in the tent?
UPDATE: Here’s what I think happened. Rolling Stone asked someone at the White House or DOD for permission to do a piece on the counter insurgency progress in Afghanistan. McChrystal was told to let the reporter accompany them. He thought that the piece being done was on the counter insurgency. Boy, was he wrong. What he did not count on was that the reporter would choose to focus on the remarks made by staff members. As Politico has reported, Rolling Stone never ran the whole article by McChrystal and his team. The rest of the media needs to ask the more important question I raised above, “Who put the reporter in the McChrystal camp?”