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Has Anyone Actually Read the Rolling Stone Article?

Posted on June 25 2010 7:00 pm

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For the first time since 9/11, we finally have universal “bipartisan” support for something—-the firing of General Stanley McChrystal. Every politician and pundit seems to agree. The Right calls it a personal tragedy for McChrystal. The Left sees it as an opportunity to change Obama’s Afghanistan war policy. But all agree his firing is of paramount importance to protect the principle of civilian authority over the military.

Maybe. But what shines through in this affair is the unctuous weakness of some in our political class. This includes President Obama and Senators McCain, Lieberman and Graham. Instead of defending the General, they used the Rolling Stone article to project their own agendas. The media’s virtual unanimous agreement is intellectually lazy. The Left has been utterly disinterested toward the Afghanistan war since “Bush-Cheney” were no longer in charge. Sure, lets fire a General. The Right appears stuck in a misdirected Truman-MacArthur time warp. I admit ignorance of the proper protocol between the military and the media. But given the amount of “embedding” that the Pentagon permitted in the Iraq war, I can only assume they are supportive of its key personnel explaining its perspective to the press.

So “lets go to the videotape” and analyze this article. Author Michael Hastings spent a month with McChrystal and his staff of 10. This was longer than anticipated because Hastings arrived in Paris April 15th just as the flying ban was implemented due to the Iceland volcano eruption. Yet in a month, he manages to dredge up only 4 or 5 semi-controversial quotes from 11 people in a 10,000-word essay. Press secretary Robert Gibbs assured us these quotes made the president “furious”, which the Left wing media has been clamoring for from Obama. Finally, Obama would get his chance to “show emotion” and “kick some ass”. This is the same “furious” president who does not believe the word “victory” applies to Afghanistan, and who managed to apologize on behalf of Ahmadinejhad as the latter was shooting Iranians in the street.

Much of the article is a screed by Hastings opposing the war in Afghanistan and the Obama strategy of counterinsurgency. McChrystal, who voted for Obama, is a proponent of this strategy and is why Obama fired his predecessor, Bush appointee General David McKiernan, in the spring of 2009. Lets not forget Obama’s presidential campaign assertion that Afghanistan was the “good war”. Comparisons with MacArthur and Truman, the basis for the civilian authority argument, are completely inapplicable. The latter disagreed on both objectives and strategy in Korea (MacArthur was right, but that’s besides the point). McChrystal and Obama, in principle it appears, have no disagreements on objective and strategy in Afghanistan. So why the “fury” based on the article?

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