SEVEN DAYS IN JUNE
Afghanistan is more than the “graveyard of empires.”
It’s the mother of vicious circles.
So this general with the background in intelligence who is supposed to conquer Afghanistan can’t even figure out what Rolling Stone is? We’re not talking Guns & Ammo here; we’re talking the antiwar hippie magazine.
Military guys are rarely as smart as they think they are, and they’ve never gotten over the fact that civilians run the military.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his hard-bitten, smart-aleck aides nuked the president, vice president and other top advisers as wimps, losers and clowns in a Rolling Stone profile meant to polish the general’s image.
It was a product of the warrior-god culture, four-star generals with their own public-relations teams, that came from Gen. David Petraeus. And the towel-snapping was intensified by the fact that McChrystal used to be a tough special-ops, under-cover-of-the-night, rules-don’t-apply-to-us military guy.
It was bad enough to infuriate even the placid president, who had already told McChrystal to keep his head down once after the infamous London speech, and who was left wondering where those military core values of loyalty, commitment and patriotism were.
As he summoned his top commander in Afghanistan to explain himself, President Obama said that his general used “poor judgment” in the derisive way he spoke, and let his aides speak, to writer Michael Hastings. But aren’t we relying on McChrystal’s good judgment, putting more lives and billions on the line, to get us out of our ghost war?
It’s just another sign of the complete incoherence of Afghan policy. The people in charge are divided against each other. And the policy is divided against itself. We’re fighting a war against an enemy that we’re desperately trying to co-opt and win over in a country where Al Qaeda, which was supposed to be the enemy, is no longer based.
Even our corrupt puppet doesn’t think we can prevail. As Dexter Filkins recently reported in The Times, Hamid Karzai told two former Afghan officials that he had lost faith in the Americans and was trying to strike his own deal with the Taliban and Pakistan.
Afghanistan is more than the “graveyard of empires.” It’s the mother of vicious circles.
McChrystal’s defenders at the Pentagon were making the case … that the president and his men (the McChrystal snipers spared Hillary) must put aside their hurt feelings about being painted as weak sisters. Obama should not fire the serially insubordinate general, they reasoned, because that would undermine the mission in Afghanistan, and if that happens, then Obama would be further weakened.
So the commander-in-chief can be bad-mouthed as weak by the military but then he can’t punish the military because that would make him weak? It’s the same sort of pass-the-Advil vicious circle reasoning the military always uses.
McChrystal publicly pressured Obama to do the surge, warning that without it, Afghanistan would be “Chaos-istan.” But the president did do the surge and Afghanistan is Chaos-istan.
The surge isn’t working. But if it did start working, Hastings’s article suggests, the military might ask for a new surge next summer.
McChrystal warns his troops about “insurgent math” for each innocent you kill, you make 10 enemies. Yet we keep killing and making more enemies.
The Taliban, McChrystal told Hastings, no longer has the initiative “but I don’t think we do, either.”
After nine years, more than a thousand troops dead, and hundreds of billions spent that could have been put toward developing new forms of fuel so that all our miseries and all our fun doesn’t derive from oil, we’ve fought our way to a stalemate.
McChrystal painted a vicious circle around his commander- in-chief. As Stars and Stripes summed it up: “Fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal and risk looking like he’s lost control of the war in Afghanistan. Or keep him and risk looking like he’s lost control of his generals.”
The lean McChrystal, who was dubbed a Jedi warrior by Newsweek, prides himself on his Spartan style. He banned alcohol and Burger King from the Kabul headquarters compound and only eats one meal a day.
But he has met his match in Afghan warriors, who have clobbered every foreign invader since Alexander the Great. The average Afghan fighter lives on grain, a bowl of rice, a bottle of water. How much does it cost by comparison to have a foreign soldier in Afghanistan?
McChrystal never should have been hired for this job given the outrageous cover-up he participated in after the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman. He was lucky to keep the job after his “Seven Days in May” stunt in London last year when he openly lobbied and undercut the president on the surge.
But with the latest sassing, and the continued Sisyphean nature of the surge he urged, McChrystal should offer his resignation. He should try subordination for a change.
Courtesy: New York Times