Sweetness and Light has the whole Rolling Stone article here.
“I’d rather have my a** kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner,” McChrystal says. He pauses a beat. “Unfortunately,” he adds, “no one in this room could do it. ”With that, he’s out the door. “Who’s he going to dinner with?” I ask one of his aides. “Some French minister,” the aide tells me. “It’s *&^^&* gay.”
Last fall, during the 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 “Chaosistan. ” 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 [ …] up, and keep a lower profile.
Even though he had voted for 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 […] war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn’t send another 40,000 troops – swelling the number of US forces in Afghanistan by nearly half – we were in danger of “mission failure. ” The White House was furious. McChrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted.
By far the most crucial – and strained – relationship is between McChrystal and Eikenberry, the US 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 job instead went to British Ambassador Mark Sedwill – a move that effectively increased McChrystal’s influence over diplomacy by shutting out a powerful rival.
“The […] lads love Stan McChrystal,” says a British officer who serves in Kabul. “You’d be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like ‘Who the […] is that?’ And it’s […] Stan McChrystal. ”It doesn’t hurt that McChrystal was also extremely successful as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite forces that carry out the government’s darkest ops. During the Iraq surge, his team killed and captured thousands of insurgents, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. “JSOC was a killing machine,” says Maj. Gen. Mayville, his chief of operations. McChrystal was also open to new ways of killing. He systematically mapped out terrorist networks, targeting specific insurgents and hunting them down – often with the help of cyber freaks traditionally shunned by the military. “The Boss would find the 24-year old kid with a nose ring, with some [….] brilliant degree from MIT, sitting in the corner with 16 computer monitors humming,” says a Special Forces commando who worked with McChrystal in Iraq and now serves on his staff in Kabul. “He’d say, ‘Hey – you […] muscle heads couldn’t find lunch without help. You got to work together with these guys.’ ”
The soldiers complain about not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence. They want to be able to fight – like they did in Iraq, like they had in Afghanistan before McChrystal. “We aren’t putting fear into the Taliban,” one soldier says. “Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing,” McChrystal says, citing an oft-repeated maxim that you can’t kill your way out of Afghanistan.