McChrystal Rolling Stone Interview: HuffPost Bloggers Weigh In

On Wednesday Rolling Stone published an explosive article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal. With one McChrystal aide already stepping down, and calls for McChrystal's own resignation pouring in, we've asked HuffPost political bloggers to weigh in.

Should McChrystal be fired? Or did he have the right to say what he said? Do you agree with any of his critiques? Scroll down to read our bloggers' reactions, and leave your own in the comments. [Check out our slideshow of the most notable quotes and comments from the piece here.]


The president was wise to act swiftly to replace his theater commander; he should act no less decisively in reviewing the policy. The focus should be on scaling back U.S. military presence, on what more can be done to induce some Taliban leaders and troops to reject working with al-Qaeda and join the Afghan political process -- and on what is to be done to those who refuse. READ MORE

In the end, the tabloid drama between the White House and McChrystal should give way to some sober assessments about whether this mission is winnable, and whether it is even worth winning. We will have learned nothing from this clumsy and embarrassing episode if we do not step back and reevaluate what the war in Afghanistan hopes to achieve--and for whose benefit it is being waged. READ MORE

McChrystal may have reached a "success" plateau he couldn't exceed. Maybe deep down he realized that he simply couldn't win the war. We've watched countless politicians and government leaders jettison a lifetime of accomplishments through acting out in what can only be described as self-sabotage. READ MORE

One of the more striking aspects of the current episode is that no one is vigorously disputing the essence of the assessments advanced by McChrystal and his associates. It seems that McChrystal agrees with one of our long-standing critiques of Obama's policies: The people he has appointed to key national security and foreign policy positions are incapable of or unwilling to put together an effective strategy to broker a political settlement for Afghanistan. READ MORE

But the most profound aspects of Rolling Stone's article "The Runaway General" have little to do with the general. The takeaway is -- or should be -- that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is an insoluble disaster, while the military rationales that propel it are insatiable. "Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further," the article points out. And "counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war." READ MORE

The conventional wisdom in Washington seems to be that Gen. Stanley McChrystal is too valuable to lose. Even if he's replaced, this is the sobering state of mind among many in our nation's capital. What it says about our overall strategy in Afghanistan is even more frightening. READ MORE

Why did he give the interview to Rolling Stone? One answer is egotism. Another is more politicking. But for what? An additional hundred thousand troops? (From where?) A different president to serve? (But we have a system that takes care of that.) A simple impression of disloyalty is left by the interview. Disloyalty first of all -- but also a half-formed wish to be relieved of responsibility in order not to be blamed for defeat. READ MORE

2010-06-23-rheadshot.jpgRobert Scheer: General Discharge

No better was President Obama's embrace of this man who has now betrayed him. One hopes that Obama now responds to the serious concerns this article raises about his failed policy and not merely to the barbs from the general he once so admired. An indication that he will not do so was provided Tuesday by his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who relayed that the president will say "it is time for everyone involved to put away their petty disagreements, put aside egos, and get to the job at hand." If that job is tantamount to anything but quickly getting out of Afghanistan, they might as well keep McChrystal in charge, for he remains a true believer in sinking deeper into the quagmire that is Afghanistan. READ MORE

So Obama's got still another spill to deal with after McChrystal felt the need to share with a reporter from Rolling Stone? Just so we can compare how the clean up goes this time, here are the White House visuals of Obama and McChrystal going through the same dance last October -- the General shooting off his mouth, Obama publicly reaming him, then both men (and wives) publicly putting on a show of BFF (except for Stanley's jocular, too-relieved look and Obama's smirk).



When I initially heard murmuring about this article two days ago I assumed that the comments contained within were a strategic move on the part of General McChrystal and his staff to have their voices heard in order to pressure Congress and the Obama administration to stop playing politics with his war. After conducting more than 50 interviews with experienced military professionals here in Afghanistan, I can tell you first hand that many commanders here echo McChyrstal's point that they are being asked to sell an unwinnable position. Setting a deadline of July 2011 for the start of a withdrawal essentially cuts counterinsurgency strategy off at the knees. However, now having read the Rolling Stone article, it is clear that General McChrystal and his staff went native with this reporter, letting their guard down too much to someone who was not to be trusted. READ MORE

In honor of the fact that Rolling Stone was the news outlet, I'll draw on my experience in rock and roll bands to do it. Most rock bands can only have one front man at a time, with the other musicians acting as sidemen. (The "front man" and "sidemen" can be women, of course.) There are musical exceptions, like the Beatles, but when it comes to military policy our "band" lineup is clear: The President calls the tune and the generals are the rhythm section. McChrystal's problem is that he's a sideman who wants to be the frontman. READ MORE

2010-06-23-willheadshot.jpgWilliam Astore: McChrystal Must Go

Chemistry between senior leaders is vital, especially in matters of life and death, and clearly Obama and McChrystal's mutual chemistry is of the combustible variety. At the moment it's generating plenty of heat, but no light.

And for that reason as well, McChrystal must go. READ MORE

The lack of respect for civilian authority demonstrated by General McChrystal and his staff - on the record and over an extended period of time - is, in my opinion, all the justification President Obama needs to fire General McChrystal.

However, I believe this behavior is symptomatic of a larger underlying "disease": a breakdown in the relationship between the civilian side of American society and the military-industrial complex that has been catalyzed by the fact that America is basically on a permanent war-time footing.READ MORE

Lets see what tomorrow brings. President Obama, Sec. Gates, ISAF and the entire US Mission in Afghanistan are in crisis -- but in every crisis there is both danger and opportunity. This may be a chance to balance the civil-military mission in the region -- back from the one-sided dominance of McChrystal over Eikenberry and Holbrooke, and towards a functioning strategy in Afghanistan. Or maybe not. READ MORE

What we now know is that generals are fully permitted to publicly challenge the constitutional authority of the president and the elected civilian leadership of the United States. That is not a fireable offense. What is a fireable offense is a general using petty or mean language in describing the elected civilian leadership whose power he is unconstitutionally usurping.

How can we explain this disparity? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be an automatic fireable offense to defy the constitution, but a relatively minor offense to use mean language? READ MORE

McChrystal created a culture of disdain for civilian leadership and showed intolerance for views that differed from his own - even though he was king of the hill as far as the Afghanistan surge. What McChrystal has done is to challenge not the President directly or even the chain of command -- but rather he and his command staff have undermined the very foundation of public trust in the White House's legitimacy and leadership. READ MORE

Lincoln struggled with the decision to fire McClellan, as Truman did with the decision to fire MacArthur. In neither case did the first instance of insubordination lead to dismissal. But as history has proven, it should have.

McChrystal is no Douglas MacArthur. Maybe he shouldn't be fired. But you can bet that the political debates that Truman had with his advisors on the subject of firing MacArthur are probably something like the discussions that have taken place in Washington in the last twenty-four hours. READ MORE

Rep. Alan Grayson: Fire General McChrystal:

Let's face it. McChrystal has destroyed his working relationship with everyone who is not actually under his command. (And maybe those under his command, too; the Post quotes one as plaintively informing McChrystal, "sir, some of the guys, sir, think we're losing, sir.") For that alone, he should be fired. But the problem goes deeper than that. The Constitution says that Congress has the power to declare war and fund (or de-fund) war, and that the President is Commander-in-Chief. Not Stanley A. McChrystal. No one elected him. READ MORE

Is it possible to even contemplate McChrystal being removed from his command? My instincts tell me that we're about to endure a fancy bit of White House shame-pageantry: McChrystal comes hat in hand, he and the President have a heart-to-heart, and in the end, everyone gets back to work. That's how I see it playing out if only because McChrystal has essentially become the living avatar of counterinsurgency strategy itself. READ MORE

Is the Obama White House filled with wimps like Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke? That's apparently what Gen. Stanley McChrystal told Rolling Stone magazine, only to apologize today. It sounds as though McChrystal is doing more than simply venting. He's trying to dodge responsibility for the war and pin it on President Obama. His remarks thus crystallize the administration's problem: Its Afghan surge appears to have failed before it even began. READ MORE

President Barack Obama took swift action today against Gen. Stanley McChrystal, replacing the loose-lipped general with a Predator drone.

"I am pleased to welcome the Predator to the team," the President said, standing with the unmanned aircraft in the Rose Garden. "I'm very confident that we're on the same page." READ MORE

I cannot fault McChrystal for believing in his strategy. That's what you want out of a General - someone who gives the President strong advice, and believes what he says. But what cannot be allowed to stand is when he believes in his strategy more than the command structure and order of the Armed Forces, and his duty to uphold it. READ MORE

Robert Greenwald: McChrystal Must Resign:

For insubordination, for disrespecting the Office of the President of the United States and for allowing derision of the White House among his staff, General Stanley McChrystal must resign. READ MORE

The more I learn about the insubordination America's top commander in Afghanistan displayed in full view of a Rolling Stone writer, the more I think any American president would fire him. But the more I think about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's motives and President Obama's approach to power and people, the more I think Obama will spare him and own him. READ MORE

There are two possible explanations for this latest McChrystal rip at the Obama administration in the soon-to-be-released issue of Rolling Stone: either he is out of control, cracking under the pressure of a failure with his name all over it, or he has decided he needs to engage in a new round of media manipulation to weaken the hands of the administration figures he disdains and blames for setbacks to his strategy. Either way, the President needs to fire McChrystal now. READ MORE

Jeff Danziger: McChrystal Rolls: