Home inContext General McChrystal’s War

General McChrystal’s War

Samara Greenberg

The U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, arrived at the Pentagon this morning for a day of meetings to explain derogatory remarks that he and his aides made about the Obama administration in a Rolling Stone magazine article. Gen. McChrystal met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this morning before shuttling over to the White House for a meeting with the President. Afterward, the general will join a broader meeting on Afghanistan at 11:35 a.m. in the White House’s Situation Room, where he will be sitting around a table with many of the men he and aides insulted including Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser James Jones, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and others.

General Stanley McChrystal (right)

In the article, “The Runaway General,” which was posted on the Internet yesterday and is set to hit newsstands June 25, Gen. McChrystal openly criticizes top government officials. Speaking of the vice president, McChrystal says, “Who’s that?” And according to sources, the general thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” when meeting with senior military officials. As for Obama and McChrystal’s first one-on-one meeting: “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser, “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him…The Boss [McChrystal] was pretty disappointed.” But this isn’t the first time Gen. McChrystal has dismissed members of the administration. Last fall, McChrystal called the counterterrorism strategy advocated by Vice President Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.”

McChrystal is prepared to resign today if he feels that the President has lost confidence in him. According to administration officials, however, President Obama will make a decision after their face-to-face meeting. But the general retains strong support from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said he “is the best commander the United States has sent to Afghanistan over the last nine years.”

While General McChrystal undoubtedly crossed a line in criticizing his civilian chain of command, the comments he and his staff made are striking as they allow a glimpse into what the military thinks about America’s strategy in Afghanistan. As the U.S. enters a crucial phase in the war with thousands of U.S. troops moving into Kandahar province, it is telling that the General tasked with executing the war distrusts the Obama administration.