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McChrystallized....But No Change

By The Reverend Published: June 24, 2010

I read the entire Rolling Stones article about General Stan McChrystal on Tuesday. I knew after reading it that he would have to go.

The attitude expressed by Gen. McChrystal and his closest officers was one of defiance towards the Obama White House and those working for the Obama White House on the Afghanistan quagmire. The contempt McChrystal demonstrated towards any and all U.S. civilian government officials (except Hillary) involved with the Afghan quagmire was astonishing in it's breadth.

Astonishing....because McChrystal and his men KNEW what they were doing when they spoke so contemptuously of White House officials to Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone reporter. The remarks reported were not accidents, or slips-of-the-tongue....they were purposely, knowingly made. McChrystal knew full well that the Rolling Stone piece would mean the end of his command in Afghanistan...he had to have known that. McChrystal and his overdosing-on-their-own-testosterone gang simply did not give a damn.

That's why Obama had to fire McChrystal.....and the General's behavior was, indeed, insubordinate. Vice-president Biden was "Bite me"....4-star General Jim Jones was a "clown".....and this gem about Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Holbrooke....

McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.

The Rolling Stone piece is full of junior-high level quotes like that last one.

Holbrooke is one of the most important partners for General McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan (COIN) in Afghanistan, that is, if COIN is to be successful....yet the dripping contempt the General exhibited towards one of his most important partners proved that McChystal either didn't believe in his own counterinsurgency bullsh*t, or that he and his men were simply too superior and tough-assed to even concern themselves with those civilian "wimps" working for the President of the United States.

Obama had no other choice but to relieve the reckless, defiant, and contemptuous veteran General of his command. McChrystal forgot his "honor", forgot who he worked for, and most importantly, he forgot that it takes full cooperative teamwork to accomplish a military objective.

However, as Obama made clear when replacing McChrystal with David Petraeus yesterday, the plan for dealing with Afghanistan has NOT changed. It's still full speed ahead counterinsurgency......kill, build and hold....a strategy that Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, warned about months ago....

...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. "We will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves," Eikenberry warned, "short of allowing the country to descend again into lawlessness and chaos."

The problem I had with Obama's original call to escalate in Afghanistan was the same that Eikenberry warned about. Obama's Vietnam could easily be seen in the COIN gibberish.....and at this point, with Obama's renewed confidence in counterinsurgency in Afghanistan having been made crystal clear yesterday.....there's no doubt in my mind that Afghanistan will drag Obama's presidency down, much as Vietnam did Lyndon Johnson.

General David Petraeus, just the other day, testified that there are only "double digit" al-Qaeda members inside Afghanistan. I took that as meaning less than 20. Who then are we at war with in Afghanistan? The militarists say it's the Taliban. They say that we can't leave Afghanistan until unity, or security, in Afghanistan is no longer threatened by Taliban or tribal warlords. Warlords who just might grant al-Qaeda fighters "safe haven" again.

That point will never be reached.

The hash-smoking Karzai government should cut a deal with tribal warlords.....the U.S. should remove it's heavy military occupation footprint from Afghanistan....and the "war" against al-Qaeda members remaining in that region should continue with drone and special forces attacks.

It's time to end the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan. It's time to bring the vast majority of our troops home. There's nothing to be "won" by remaining.

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