IS GENERAL STANLEY McCHRYSTAL THE NEXT “HELEN THOMAS?”
General Stanley McChrystal, top US commander in Afghanistan has been summoned home for a “briefing,” read “waterboarding session” after news of an upcoming article in this week’s Rolling Stone magazine hit the White House. His crime? General McChrystal is guilty of honesty, discernment, good judgement and communicating his sanity in private with the kind of candor we lived without during the Bush years, much to our sorrow. It is obvious that General McChrystal was targeted, not unlike White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Why? Who or what did General McChrystal threaten?
I haven’t always been a big fan of General McChrystal. His willingness to “toe the line” in the face of something well beyond disaster, too often seeming to be more part of the problem than the solution has cost him credibility. Whether his actions and seeming lack of leadership was careerism or simply as it may be coming out now, the fact that he has been drowning in a sea of manure has become clear and the general, in my opinion, is the better for letting us know. It’s not like this isn’t a total disaster, this thing in Afghanistan, corruption, drugs, failure coming out our ears.
So, General McChrystal has noticed that Vice President Joe Biden isn’t quite up to the task. I would call that a good catch. I would feel better if, somewhere at least, there was an email from McChrystal referring to Dick Cheney as a dangerous sociopath and paranoid but if our general has to wake up, even at this late date, we are certainly the better for it. Another good catch is his assessment of General James Jones. The quote comes from an aide, not McChrystal but calling Jones “a clown stuck in 1985? borders on pure brilliance.
Another stroke of McChrystal brilliance is the quote:
“Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke… I don’t even want to open it.”
I wonder what it is about Holbrooke that the general is disturbed by? Could it be drug policy? The Holbrooke policy of paying the Taliban to grow more drugs is, I think, an original approach to eradication. Colonel Eugene Khruschev, former First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Kabul, now commentator for RTV and editor of Veterans Today refers to Holbrooke as Afghanistan’s “drug kingpin” in partnership with “Karzai brothers incorporated.” Do you think this might be what might be disturbing the general?
What else could be disturbing the general? Notwithstanding the fact that we entered the war in Afghanistan under false pretenses, chasing a handful of terrorist suspects, an effort that has turned into a decade long war, really a civil war in, not only Afghanistan but now Pakistan as well, Afghanistan itself would never be a problem that could be solved by a military solution. Dragging in the Karzai gang, surrounded by Bush era fraudsters, political hangers on and a totally disreputable Kabul regime, could only be a recipe for disaster.
With, literally hundreds of our highest ranking retired officers working as paid lobbyists for Israel or deeply involved in massive defense appropriations fraud, with dozens taking Pentagon paychecks to work for the Republican party, having a commander speak privately about his command environment is the least of our problems. McChrystal has his job because there isn’t anyone left. The Bush administration and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, through application of a religious and political purity test, eliminated every American military leader with backbone. Now, when someone seems to be making noises resembling reality based thinking, our new President feels a need to assume the sins of his predecessor, a man of monumental failures.
To be honest, military leaders in America have, typically, not been the “brightest bulbs in the pack.” With the service academies and promotion process skewed to favor reactionary elements within the military, “deep thinkers” are typically shunned. Nobody is accusing General McChrystal of being a deep thinker. However, when anyone in the military begins to show signs of outgrowing the sequestered permanent childhood, the culture of spineless mediocrity that has made our military what it is today, a bloated parasite pushing a poverty stricken nation into collapse, the vultures begin to gather.
My only hope is that General McChrystal and, perhaps General Petraeus might demonstrate more “reality based” beliefs, such as a broad understanding of geopolitics, history and even economics. Thus far such things have not reared their ugly heads but who knows? We await the signs that some of our leaders truly “get it.” When will we hear the magic “v” word, “Vietnam” in reference to Afghanistan?
When will the magic “I” word come up, involving “that special country” that pushes us into its wars, wars that were never ours?
When will the magic “A” word come up, “America?” A “reality based” understanding of geopolitics, history and economics behind a true patriotism, a belief in American values, putting America first, her people, her freedoms, her real traditions, would be a nice change from years of “whittling away.” Is speaking out a first sign that Duty Honor and Country is more than empty talk?
Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran. A 100% disabled vet. He has been a featured commentator on TV and radio including Al Jazeera and his articles have been carried by news services around the world. He has been a UN Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues. This article first appeared in Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal.