The Practical Radical

A General and a Rolling Stone: Should the Rebel Bite the dust?

June 23, 2010
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Mcchrystal - The Rebel General

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is a rebel.

From his hard partying, authority bucking days in West Point to his current post as commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan´╗┐, he does it his own way. We have often seen greater leaders in the military such as Patton and Macarthur (linked to a book and a movie on the subject) who do amazing things on the field, but have not so amazing relationships with the political types back home. McChrystal is cut from this cloth.

McChrystal and his aides seemed to have been caught drinking their own koolaide and dished some interviews to Rolling Stone, from which an article was written critical of the President – “Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss [McChrystal] was pretty disappointed.” – and Vice-President – “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”.

Unfortunately, the kafuffle about whether the General is respecting the President overshadows the real focus of the article. The article was about whether the General was pursuing an un-winnable war with a strategy that is radical and questioned by many.

The strategy he is advancing – counterinsurgency┬á or “COIN” – calls for sending a large number of troops to both pummel the enemy as well as befriend the civilian population and rebuild its government. As the article states, this is a long process, much longer than Obama’s promised stand down slated for next year, and is not generally supported or understood by the troops, who see it as putting them in danger by limiting their ability to defend themselves. Though in an ideal world I like the concept of an army multi-tasking and play both the role of the peacemaker and the warrior, I strongly question the ability or the desire of American soldiers to undertake this.

Please read more of the Rolling Stone article here entitled “The Runaway General“.

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