The Campaign Spot

Stanley McChrystal Speaks a Little Too Bluntly About Biden, Eikenberry

So, it appears Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal has decided to pursue exciting opportunities in the private sector:

In the eight-page [Rolling Stone] article, released to reporters on Monday ahead of publication, McChrystal appears to belittle Vice President Joe Biden and accuses Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, of undermining his war plan within the administration.

Asked by the Rolling Stone reporter about what he now feels of the war strategy advocated by Biden last fall — fewer troops, more drone attacks — the article reports that McChrystal and his aides attempted to come up with a good one-liner to dismiss the question. “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal reportedly jokes. “Who’s that?”

Later in the article, McChrystal turns more serious when asked about cables sent last fall to Washington by Eikenberry. The cables called into question the major troop increase advocated by McChrystal’s team and the U.S.’s backing of Afghan President Hamid Karzai — views that the ambassador had not previously raised with McChrystal or his staff.

“I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before,” McChrystal is quoted as saying. “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’”

The article also reportedly has McChrystal describing Obama as “unprepared” for their first meeting.

Many people I know think highly of McChrystal, and he has earned his accolades. But a general in the American armed forces cannot, on the record, mock or deride the vice president and the U.S. ambassador, much less the president of the United States. You and I can; we’re just some schmoes; we don’t report to him in the chain of command. I’m sure many generals have thought many colorful expressions of criticism toward presidents over the years, but they cannot blab them to reporters.

Presuming these quotes are accurate and that McChrystal wasn’t foolish enough to think that an “off-the-record” quote of such color and power would stay off the record, one cannot help but get the feeling that McChrystal is ready to leave, and has chosen this manner to do so.

UPDATE: McChrystal apologizes:

“I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”

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