Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No Terms of Endearment from General McChrystal

It's funny how lines from certain movies always come to mind when describing the Obama administration.  No, I am not thinking of memorable Wizard of Oz quotes in this instance, though I am sure there must be one that is fitting.  Lately I have been reminded of the line from the movie "Terms of Endearment" when Emma, describes the difficult task of raising children, "As hard as you think it is, you end up wishing it were that easy."  A variation of that line comes to mind, as I often think when it comes to this administration as bad as I thought they were going to be I end up wishing they were that good.

The latest "flap" comes from an obviously discontented General McChrystal who has obviously become so frustrated with the group he let his hair down and dishes in a forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone Magazine:
An article out this week in “Rolling Stone” magazine depicts Gen. Stanley McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war…

McChrystal himself is described by an aide as “disappointed” in his first Oval Office meeting with an unprepared President Barack Obama. 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…

If Eikenberry had the same doubts [about McChrystal's strategy], McChrystal said he never expressed them until a leaked internal document threw a wild card into the debate over whether to add more troops last November. In the document, Eikenberry said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not a reliable partner for the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal was hired to execute.

McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” and accused the ambassador of giving himself cover.

“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.”
That clatter you hear is the sound of all hell breaking loose at the White House. "Within hours after today's Rolling Stone story broke, McChrystal was called by the White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They were not happy."  I'll bet they were not happy.    McChrystal issued an apology post haste.  Though he didn't apologize for his poor judgment in voting for Obama, the apology was intended to assuage the bruised egos of "the national security adviser, Jim Jones, a retired general, a "clown" who is "stuck in 1985," as well as Vice President "Bite Me" Biden. Ouch.

McChrystal saved the bulk of his ire for Eikenberry as the two have a long history of trouble between them as Ambinder explains at length:
Eikenberry's beef with McChrystal goes back to the time when McChrystal was the Pope. The Pope is the head of the Joint Special Operations Command. The nickname goes back to an off-hand remark that Janet Reno made after failing to obtain information from JSOC after the raid at Waco. (JSOC operators were on the ground but did not assist in the raid itself.) She called JSOC the Vatican. And the head of the Vatican is ... the Pope.

At some point, I think in 2005, one of McChrystal's task-forces-that-didn't-really-exist did something in Afghanistan that angered Eikenberriy, who was in command of the region at the time. The two men exchanged words and built mutual mistrust. They have not worked well together ever since. McChrystal blames Eikenberry for trying to influence policy by leaking information and by impeding McChrystal's efforts to build better relationships with Afghanistan's fragile government.

During the strategy review, Eikenberry didn't think McChrystal's surge could work. He told the White House that contractors would have to pick up the slack for years to come. McChrystal insisted that he could execute his COIN strategy with a heavy presence of special operations forces ... and be out in 18 months (i.e, troops would begin to be drawn down). The White House ultimately sided with McChrystal.

But there were tensions. Even though McChrystal voted for Obama and told him so during their first meeting, he sensed that a number of senior White House aides didn't really believe that the former commander of the military's special missions unit during the Bush-Cheney years was suddenly on their side. National Security Adviser James Jones, who is a bit of cipher to McChrystal's team, may or may not have been one of these aides. No one in the West Wing bought all that liberal internet chatter about JSOC's alleged crimes -- but no one really didn't buy it, either.
What a mess.  Though McChrystal will surely take the heat for insubordination, one has to wonder what thought, if any, Obama and his cronies gave to carrying out this mission in Afghanistan.  The tensions between McChrystal and Eikenberry were deep and there was an obvious sense of mistrust towards McChrystal on the part of the new administration.  If Obama's aides doubted McChrystal's allegiance why was he given charge of what Obama called the "real war" in Afghanistan?  Bizarre.

This is bound to make the headlines over the next few days as the Rolling Stone article hasn't even hit the newstands yet.  Fasten your seat belts, this one doesn't appear to have a happy ending coming any time soon.

H/T: Hot Air


  1. HI Mary Sue, this is very interesting. I'm sure they'll use the General as a scapegoat. If I was Gen. McChrystal, I'd be disgusted w/obummer too.

  2. Mary Sue: How about a variation from the Wizard of Oz?

    Toto, I don’t think we’re in America anymore.

  3. Hi Pamela!

    That is perfect and unfortunately true. The longer the administration has had power the less like America it seems.

    Bunni - You always give me a laugh calling him Obummer even with the terrible news Obummer always brings.

    Last but not least I will be sure to check out your blogs Breaking News and thanks for stopping by.


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