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McChrystal didn’t say anything worth getting fired over, or resigning

I just finished reading The Runaway General | Rolling Stone Politics article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal and I didn’t read anything about McChrystal that warrants his resignation or firing.

He reminds me of Gen. Patton, a brilliant fighter who doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

But that’s not what disturbed me about the article. The article has been misconstrued as McChrystal badmouthing the presdient, the vice president and top diplomats in Afghanistan. But what the article really is is a scathing indictment of the way we’re fighting the Afghanistan war.

Some excerpts along those lines:

Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a “bleeding ulcer.” In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it’s precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn’t want.

“They are trying to manipulate perceptions because there is no definition of victory – because victory is not even defined or recognizable,” says Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq in 2006. “That’s the game we’re in right now. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn’t get run off. The facts on the ground are not great, and are not going to become great in the near future.”

So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word “victory” when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.

I don’t think Obama got his knickers in a knot over McChrystal’s boorish behavior  – flipping off his aides, bad mouthing the French and mocking an e-mail message from Richard Holbrooke – I think it had more to do with the article, using McChrystal as the protagonist, thoroughly eviscerating our entire Afghan War strategy and Obama’s inconsistent attitude toward it.

It reads a lot like Tom Ricks book “Fiasco” about the Bush administration’s disastrous conduct in Iraq. Perhaps he needs to write “Fiasco Redux: Afghanistan.”

Read the article and I’ll bet you’ll agree with me that we need to get the hell out of there. Now.

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