General Stanley McChrystal, the top general in Afghanistan, is in hot water with the White House after he and his staff bashed the president, vice president, and top advisers in a profile written by Rolling Stone magazine. He has been summoned to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama, and his days may be numbered.
In the profile, McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” by US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, who he felt was covering “his flank for the history books” by releasing memos critical of the situation in Afghanistan last fall. McChrystal joked about “dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.” McChrystal, when asked about Vice President Joe Biden, responds: “Who’s that?”
A top McChrystal adviser is quoted likening the vice president’s name to “Bite Me.” Another aide described National Security Adviser James Jones as a “clown” who is “stuck in 1985.” Etc. Here is a partial account from AFP, as the full article has not been released on Rolling Stone‘s website:
In the profile, McChrystal jokes sarcastically about preparing to answer a question referring to Vice President Joe Biden, known as a skeptic of the commander’s war strategy and imagined ways of “dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.”
“‘Are you asking about Vice President Biden?’ McChrystal says with a laugh. ‘Who’s that?'” the article quotes him as saying.
“‘Biden?’ suggests a top adviser. ‘Did you say: Bite Me?'”
An unnamed adviser to McChrystal also says in the article that the general came away unimpressed after meeting with Obama in the Oval Office a year ago.
“It was a 10-minute photo op,” the general’s adviser says.
“Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was… he didn’t seem very engaged.
“The boss was pretty disappointed,” says the adviser.
McChrystal tells the magazine that he felt “betrayed” by the US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, in a White House debate over war strategy last year.
Referring to a leaked internal memo from Eikenberry that questioned McChrystal’s request for more troops, the commander suggested the ambassador had tried to protect himself for history’s sake.
“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal tells Rolling Stone.
“Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.'”
This story tops weeks of terrible news pouring out of Afghanistan, including: the delay of the Kandahar security operation and a lack of support from tribal leaders in the province; the difficulty in securing Marja; Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s loss of confidence in the US and NATO; the resignation of the Afghan Interior Minister and the chief of the National Directorate of Intelligence, two pro-American officials who are anti-Taliban hawks; General David Petraeus’ fainting spell during testimony before Congress on the course of the war; and the report that the military is in effect funding the insurgency through transportation contracts.
The comments by McChrystal and his staff are at the least disrespectful to the President and the administration, and at worst insubordinate. It is unlikely that he can continue his command of Coalition forces in Afghanistan given the circumstances. And given that his staff had participated in the mudslinging, the slate will need to be wiped clean, leaving the question of who will succeed McChrystal if he resigns or is fired.
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