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Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings, and the McChrystalites—Sort of Deserve Each Other

5) I think we finally understand what McChrystal and his staff were up to: they are terribly naive and bedazzled by a sort of Gonzo-wannabe reporter who, they hoped, would do a weird Zen-like hagiography on their boss, perhaps confirming their image of him as an against-the-grain warrior-philosopher not fully appreciated either in or out of the military, the ultimate antithesis to a Gen. Jim Jones or Gen. Eikenberry.

6) The contorted story of how Hastings probably misrepresented himself, and the duplicity of Rolling Stone don't matter much, inasmuch as many of the things McChrystal's staff indulged in border on conduct unbecoming officers, about which military protocols do not distinguish how knowledge of such unbecoming behavior reaches military superiors, only that it does. I think that explains why the staff has not contested too much how they were had, inasmuch as in theory their crude remarks to a reporter might well have been grounds for a preliminary military court investigation. Indeed, Rolling Stone knew that they had information (on tape?) that was explosive, hence their glee at printing whatever they wished; McChyrstal must have realized it (hence the offer of resignation), and the Pentagon and others must now hope that the dismissal will be enough of a sacrifice that any further action would be superfluous. (By that, I mean, if there were a transcript of a Major and his staff trash-talking about McChrystal in the manner he and his staff trash-talked about their superiors, he might well have been brought up on charges.)

In short, each gamer and conniver did not quite get out of this sordid episode what they had hoped: Instead of Bruce Lee with four stars surrounded by a brilliant but misunderstood Lawrence of Arabia staff,  we get a near insubordinate general desperate for his supposedly unique "story" to get out, surrounded by a crowd  of well-meaning groupies -- all to be exposed by a duplicitous Hunter Thompson wannabe who now finally "makes it" with the scalp of a four-star -- all against the backdrop of an anti-military tabloid that can't quite believe its good fortunate that its intended victim gladly put his head in their noose, and all for their ultimate aim of getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan in defeat and shame.

As my other grandfather, the old Swedish horse-breaker, used to say, "What a bunch."

My very limited sympathies are, of course, with a distinguished general, who is a better, braver sort that those who did him in. But that said, his laxity and absence of judgment -- and, yes, ego -- did an enormous amount of damage at a time of war, and all of the ripples (changes in command, effect on the enemy, political insider stuff with the Afghans and at the White House) are not quite yet over with. (One can see Nemesis at work yet again [she's busy with sanctimonious Al Gore as the sex poodle after flying off from the Edwards' mansion to circle around the Katrina-BP Gulf], as McChrystal should have learned from his early freelancing comments not to press his luck with the deadly goddess.)

But readers, you've already beat me to the moral of the story: God help us all when a four-star general really believes he can use Rolling Stone to help get a message out that might help us defeat the Taliban and help himself in the process.