Via Cuffy Meigs at Perfunction, the RS piece isn’t out yet but this story makes it sound … oh boy. Reserve judgment until the article is published later this week, but if it’s half as bad as the AP description makes it sound — the American leadership at war with itself while the drive towards Kandahar has stalled — there’s going to be major fallout.
The way the AP account is written, it sounds like McChrystal badmouthed Karl Eikenberry on the record with the magazine. Gulp.
An article out this week in “Rolling Stone” magazine depicts Gen. Stanley McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war…
McChrystal himself is described by an aide as “disappointed” in his first Oval Office meeting with an unprepared President Barack Obama. The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start. Obama called McChrystal on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops…
If Eikenberry had the same doubts [about McChrystal’s strategy], McChrystal said he never expressed them until a leaked internal document threw a wild card into the debate over whether to add more troops last November. In the document, Eikenberry said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not a reliable partner for the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal was hired to execute.
McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” and accused the ambassador of giving himself cover.
“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.”‘
Compare and contrast the McChrystal/Eikenberry relationship with that of Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, whom Foreign Policy noted last year never allowed their disagreements to go public. This isn’t the first time McChrystal’s spoken publicly about matters the White House would prefer remained in-house, either. Remember last year when The One freaked out over his speech in London calling for more troops?
There’ll be more on this later in the week, needless to say, but it’s worth putting it on your radar screen now. Be sure to read the whole AP piece too, as there’s more to it than just the bit I quoted — including troops in the field, again on record, questioning McChrystal’s rules of engagement. Exit question: Between this and Karzai reportedly giving up on NATO, isn’t anyone on our side in sync?
Update: Oh boy, again.
Private security contractors protecting the convoys that supply U.S. military bases in Afghanistan are paying millions of dollars a week in “passage bribes” to the Taliban and other insurgent groups to travel along Afghan roads, a congressional investigation released Monday has found.
The payments, which are reimbursed by the U.S. government, help fund the very enemy the U.S. is attempting to defeat and renew questions about the U.S. dependence on private contractors, who outnumber American troops in Afghanistan , 130,000 to 93,000.
The report’s author called the findings of the six-month investigation “sobering and shocking.”
Update: Like I said — major fallout. Marc Ambinder relays the administration’s reaction.
What in the heck was Gen. Stanley McChrystal thinking? I mean, I know what he was thinking: he was tired of being the victim of what he believes is a concerted effort on behalf of Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and others to undermine everything he was given 18 months to do. He was tired of being perceived in the press as a neoconservative killer, Dick Cheney’s hired assassin, or disloyal to President Obama and his staff. He was angry at being blamed for leaking the draft of his report to the President to Bob Woodward. (He did NOT leak the document). He was miffed that a large number of mid-ranking soldiers and battalion commanders and enlisted guys didn’t support his strategy…
I don’t think McChrystal intended to do this. Nevertheless, he did. And as for whether there was some miscommunication about attribution, or whether McChrystal thought no one would really notice, or whether he thought a tick-tock like this would help his cause … those questions are unanswerable right now…
Within hours after today’s Rolling Stone story broke, McChrystal was called by the White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They were not happy.
Read his whole post for essential background on how poisonous the McChrystal/Eikenberry relationship has been. This has been going on since 2005, apparently. Why on earth would Obama put them in charge of Afghanistan together if they don’t get along?
Update: McChrystal retreats. Is it fast enough to save him?
He says in a statement: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”