McChrystal: Lack of Leadership Credibility Led to Iraqi Army Collapse

“It’s easier for the opposition because they are running against the incumbent. We are in many cases allied with regimes that exist and therefore when we are the incumbent you’ve got a record people can criticize and there’s probably a hundred years now of history that a lot of the groups in there can point out and go, ‘this is not going well.’ It has not been providing political, social or economic opportunity for the people and there’s enough truth in that that it makes it wait,” McChrystal said.

“The degree to which we are painted with that same brush, either painted with the brush of being allied with regimes that lack credibility or we are viewed as colonialists or imperialists or just a superpower – that makes us vulnerable,” he added.

McChrystal, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command, noted that the U.S. has many assets, including a strong economy.

“We’ve got an extraordinary set of values that are largely respected around the world, we’ve got a strong economy which people would like to be a part of,” he said.

Despite its assets, McChrystal argued the U.S. lacks a “grand narrative” in the war on terrorism.

“I don’t think we have a large grand narrative that talks about what it is we are trying to do and where we are trying to do. There have been some efforts made,” he said.

“I’m not going to say people haven’t been trying but I don’t think we’ve succeeded in creating a large information strategy message, narrative, that says, ‘this is the direction we are going, this is what the United States stands for.’ We’ve been struggling in the region ever since 1947, as you know, as soon as we recognized Israel, that created a schism and then there have been things ever since – right or wrong – it put us in a whole new ballgame.”