June 22nd, 2010
09:59 AM ET

Excerpts from Rolling Stone article on Gen. McChrystal

Excerpts from a Rolling Stone magazine profile on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, set to appear Friday:

- "Even though he had voted for (President Barack) Obama, McChrystal and his new commander-in-chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. 'It was a 10-minute photo-op,' says an adviser to McChrystal. 'Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his f-ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.'"

Read full Rolling Stone article

- "Last fall, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as 'shortsighted,' saying it would lead to a state of 'Chaos-istan,' The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the f- up, and keep a lower profile. Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. 'I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem,' he says.

Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. 'Are you asking about Vice President Biden?' McChrystal says with a laugh. 'Who's that?' 'Biden?' suggests a top adviser. 'Did you say "Bite Me?"'

- "In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk s- about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a 'clown' who remains 'stuck in 1985.' Politicians like (John) McCain and (John) Kerry, says another aide, 'turn up, have a meeting with (Afghan president Hamid) Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it's not very helpful.' Only (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. 'Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review,' says an adviser. 'She said, "If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.'"

- "McChrystal reserves special skepticism for (Richard) Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. 'The Boss says he's like a wounded animal,' says a member of the general's team. 'Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He's a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN (counterinsurgency), and you can't just have someone yanking on s-.'"

- "By far the most crucial - and strained - relationship is between McChrystal and (Karl) Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador. According to those close to the two men, Eikenberry - a retired three-star general who served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005 - can't stand that his former subordinate is now calling the shots. He's also furious that McChrystal, backed by NATO's allies, refused to put Eikenberry in the pivotal role of viceroy in Afghanistan, which would have made him the diplomatic equivalent of the general.

"... The relationship was further strained in January, when a classified cable that Eikenberry wrote was leaked to The New York Times. The cable was as scathing as it was prescient. The ambassador offered a brutal critique of McChrystal's strategy, dismissed President Hamid Karzai as 'not an adequate strategic partner,' and cast doubt on whether the counterinsurgency plan would be 'sufficient' to deal with al Qaeda. ... McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. 'I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before,' says McChrystal, who adds that he felt 'betrayed' by the leak. 'Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'"

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Filed under: Military • Security Brief
soundoff (509 Responses)
  1. garyinco

    This administration would fvck up a soup sandwich.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Debbie

    I do believe Obummer is a one term president. He just does not have what it takes (in many aspects). But regardless of that, the military is held to a code whereby they do not publicly blast our leaders, especially our President (even though our president sucks). We need the general in charge but he should be reprimanded. I am an independent, was not happy with GWB but still supported him more than I ever would our current obamination. And yes all you dems, Bush was attacked publicly too, not so much by our military because they did respect him, something they don't seem to do with O'Bummer. Can you blame them? But still, it should not be public ridicule.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. down n da bayou

    no one can be left a bigger mess than what carter left Reagon. remember that?

    June 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • good point

      and yet many Americans credit Clinton with the good economy that Reagan fostered

      June 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. down n da bayou

    i would have waited till i resign before i called out the president.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. fred

    Everyone makes mistakes.Eisenhower made the mistake on D-Day(picked the wrong day and lost alot of our GI's do to bad weather),Patton also made a few,but we won the war.The WH should stay put in their arm chairs and let those trained for the miltary do their job.Obama is looking forward to another photo-op.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark Holten

    The comments in the article are called 3rd party hearsay - they quote people who work for GEN McChrystal who are gossiping about the General. At no point in the excerpts I have seen from the article does the author actually quote General McChrystal. So before we throw the General under the bus, let's be fair. What appears to have occurred is that members of the General's staff apparently made some very bad decisions when speaking to this so called reporter. Deespite these comments not coming directly from General McChrystal, he's taken responsibility for the mistake as the senior commander, but honestly he's in the middle of a war and cannot control every word uttererd by every employee. All he can do in such a situation is to accept responsibility, apologize for the shortcomings of the people who spoke inappropriately to this reporter, and of course to fire the idiot who thought it was a good idea in the first place to have a sometimes reporter from Rolling Stone running around and writing down everything his staff say in the heat of battle. He's done all 3.

    I have had the distinct pleasure to work for numerous truly great 3 and 4 star flag officers. GEN McChrystal is as good as Flag Officers get – and people, heck even his critics, will follow him to the end of the earth because he is a brilliant winner and leader and because playing on his team is a distinct privilege. I followed him to AFG because I knew that he was truly capable of turning the war around here in AFG. And the current ground truth is that, despite the incredibly difficult mess left in the wake of the George Dubya debacle and the nearly hopeless situation that President Obama and GEN McChrystal inherited, together they've skillfully led us to an improbable and historic turnaround. I have seen remarkable progress since I came here last fall.  One has to simply drive around Kabul and out to Bagram to see the obvious marks of progress – vendors on the street, women without covering from head to toe, girls walking to and from school, traffic becoming more organized and civilized, etc, etc.  I have to admit that when I first read his strategy and campaign plan I had many doubts. So regardless of what sensationalism some freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, yours truly, a committed skeptic living and working here in AFG, is convinced that GEN McChrystal has skillfully led the USA and NATO towards the most remarkable wartime comeback in American history. Remember that we're not here to worry about petty DC political agendas, we're here to win the peace in AFG. 

    America, even our superheroes are human from time to time – and this 4 star superhero has been deployed to Iraq and AFG probably 7.5 of the last 9 years. So before you throw him under the bus for making an inconsequential mistake in 7.5 years of grueling wartime service and leadership, give him a break – we all make mistakes when we're tired.  You and I would have buckled many years ago under the constant pressure of 18 hour work days which continue 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. General Stan McChrystal apologized for the mistake, now it's time to remember that we're in the 4th quarter of the biggest wartime comeback in our nation's history and now we must finish what we came here to do, i.e. win the peace and prevent AFG from ever becoming another safe haven for the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.  Let's keep our eyes on the prize and not be distracted by petty, inconsequential political nonsense.

    Lest you call me a republican, let me disabuse you of that notion. I worked my butt off to help President Obama win the 2008 election and nothing would make me happier than to see him and General McChrystal achieve the historic victory that the republicans said could never be accomplished.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • PopeJohnII

      Since you have worked for several flag officiers then you, more than most here, should understand that McCrystal's abuse of his leadership position to flagrantly usurp the UCMJ and also encourage his staff to do the same–these cannot be excused away as the human failty we all suffer from. This is not his first offense and "we" are not leaders in a life and death mission involving tens of thousands of other human beings.

      Maybe the real fault is that McCrystal was given too much too soon. As good of a combat commander as McCrystal seems to be, maybe this all has been too much for someone of his demeaner.

      June 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • PHAN

      well said

      June 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Kid

      !. And how do we know you "worked for..". Does that mean directly, reporting to? Call me a doubter.
      2. So, if it turns out that he said some such things himself, your opinion changes? What does appear to be reported is that the general did indeed say some of the things that were reported – although it is not 100% clear on that point. I find it hard to believe that his immediate staff would say such things, apparently often, without the general agreeing to the tenor of the conversations.
      3. Most of the anti-Bush comments seem to say, "but GW was wors"e. I find them both (GW and Obama) bad presidents. Two wrongs do not make a right. You seem to have forgotten that Obama (and his supporters) were anti war and were going to get out soonest. How many years will that be?

      June 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spendlove

      I agree Mark and furthermore believe we have much more pressing matters at hand than this political mambo jambo involving General McChrystal.

      June 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yeah right

    Hey Captain, so every president should spend 4 years in a combat squadron? Does Bush's time spent defending Texas from the Viet Cong (when he wasn't AWOL) count? Combat must not have been very good for McCain; at least not for his memory. He doesn't remember how many houses he owns. By the way, Cap, the President is "Commander-IN-Chief".

    June 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nestor Moreno

    Civilian authority is supeme and above everything else – nobody should dare to forget that. Regardless of who sits as commander in chief, loyalty by the military to the president must be demanded and respect be accorded. PERIOD!

    June 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    The president will do what he needs to to save face, and rightfully so. Insubordinate conduct in the military can not be tolerated.

    It is too bad he is not this angry about the BP/Gulf oil crisis. He is taking vacations and playing golf while the gulf states are in disarray. He is angry about an article that hasn't been published yet, but failed to quickly respond to the real crisis.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Grace Angela

    Let's all support the General who covered up brave Pat Tillman's death by our own men, that is called lying and cowardice.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ras65

    Let's cut to the chase. You are responsible for what comes out of your mouth period. You want to say that Obama does not command the respect of the military. Since when is one General, the entire military. I can guarantee you, not only is Obama furious, so are the leaders of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is unacceptable for a High Ranking military official. They are held to a higher standard. What does this say of McChrystal's leadership that his staff has loose lips as well, knowing that this will most likely hit the fan. Yes, this is Obama's war now, but he is relying his FULL military leadership to make these day to day decisions. You have to remember that when he is speaking of the Commander-in-Chief's strategy, McChrystal is criticizing his own military (Republican and Democrat) leadership too. I would call him on the carpet as well.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pat W.

    I have great admiration for President Obama. He has an impossibly difficult job to do–playing clean-up after the Bush debacle. However, I disagree with his policy in the middle east. We need to stop playing "Empire " and get the hell out there .We need to bring our boys and girls home and make sure they get a good education. We will need some educated folks to solve the horrific problems that are plaguing this country and the planet in general. The oil spill in the gulf comes to mind...
    If we are going to worry about any foreign powers,let's worry about China. They are the ones who will take us down.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darryl Phillips

      Well said. I agree 100%.

      June 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • PHAN


      June 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Buddy

    The Hastings article about the general is long,boring and useless

    June 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Retired major

    There's absolutely NO reason for a President to have served in the military. But he/she has to stand up to the Generals and slap them down hard when necessary. Generals had the run of the world under bush and look at where we are now. There's a reason the CIC is a civilian.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jeannettelj

    I guess that this story will hang around only until some celebrity goes into rehab for the 14th time and then that will be the
    new story of the day (for days on end.)

    June 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
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