Now before we do this, let’s go over the ground rules

Here’s a couple articles on the blowback from officials sticking up for General McChrystal and his staff over this whole Rolling Stone article thing. The officials attest that Michael Hastings broke the ground rules and there was touching of the hair and face throughout his piece the Runaway General.  Why they didn’t raise these protests immediately is an important question, but maybe it’s because they were out for a lobster dinner or busy fighting a war or something.

Gen. McChrystal allies, Rolling Stone disagree over article’s ground rules

“A U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, Air Force Lt. Col. Edward T. Sholtis, acknowledged that Hastings, like other reporters who have interviewed McChrystal over the past year, was not required to sign written ground rules. ‘We typically manage ground rules on a verbal basis,’ Sholtis said. ‘We trust in the professionalism of the people we’re working with.'”

Rolling Stone fact checker sent McChrystal aide 30 questions

“Rolling Stone magazine sent an aide to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal a list of 30 questions to check facts in a profile of the commander. The questions contained no hint of what became the controversial portions of the story.”

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3 Comments on “Now before we do this, let’s go over the ground rules”

  1. Thom Yorke Says:

    McChrystal’s musings in Rolling Stone are interesting because one would think a man with his tenure understands that military is subservient to civilian government, with the role of carrying out orders, and further that he would choose a rebellious magazine cast as liberal in US politics, to make his point. I think you give great commentary on this topic, so perhaps I will provide a bit of insight on what the situation means politically.

    The economist nailed it on the head when they pointed out that the Rolling Stone incident isn’t such a grand spectacle so much because of what he said or did, but rather because the obsession with it reveals public anxieties over the mission that had quieted down a bit since the troop surge was announced. In a way, public disbelief had been briefly sidelined even for a little bit to see if President Obama’s strategy could make some progress in turning the mission around. Operation Moshtarak,in Helmand province’s Marjah region was the litmus test on whether or not the Counterinsurgency (COIN in military parlance) could reverse Taliban successes, and after what could be argued are mixed results, and Kandaharis’ hesitation to replicate the mission on a larger scale in their own districts, the same questions are emerging again on whether or not the mission is winnable.

    The military’s firm if sobered faith in the realities of the mission have come to clash with the civilian administration’s misgivings about several aspects of the overall effort. Vice President Biden has long been an advocate of a reduced role for US forces, limiting them to counter-terrorism operations, while Ambassador Eikenberry has lamented the fraudulent election and continued corruption of President Karzai’s government; special representative Richard Holbrooke is rumoured to have a stormy relationship with Karzai as well. For the military, the tactical reality is that these types of difficulties are nearly guaranteed to happen in an insurgency, while for civilian officials feeling the pressure of upcoming elections, the political consequences are always near and very real. To this end, perhaps the biggest problem with General McChrystal was that, despite his strategic knowledge, he was far too direct to mince words and deal with the delicate realities of managing a unpopular war.

    Gen Petraeus, who took a demotion to replace McChrystal, shares the same depth of knowledge on COIN, but is also well-known for his political adroitness and skill at handling touchy subjects (some speculate he will be a Republican contender for President). While the discussion over whether or not the war is winnable is unlikely to go away, and probably couldn’t be answered easily anyways, Petraeus will almost definitely be able to defuse some of the consternation that was beginning to bubble up and perhaps give President Obama some breathing space to manoeuvre the shifty subject of exit dates and strategies. Since the mission is unlikely to yield a total defeat of the Taliban or a immediate withdrawal of US troops on the heels of an enemy resurgent, it seems a silver lining has been found in the replacement of one clever tactician with perhaps his only considerable match.

  2. “Pentagon clears McChrystal of wrongdoing”

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