Thursday, June 24, 2010

McChrystal......crazy like a fox

In three years as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army, I met a handful of generals....and none of them were dummies. In fact, I would go so far as to say that anybody who becomes a general officer in the army has not merely military skills, but political ones as well.  Getting all the way to FOUR stars is something very few career officers do; full generals are the rarest of the rare in the army at large.   The commanders of major bases--like Ft. Benning and Ft. Dix--only  have two stars and even brigadier generals (one star) are not all that common.

So, when a four-star runs his mouth to a reporter from a magazine like Rolling Stone, I have to believe that he's not as naive or stupid as Stanley McChrystal appears to have been at first glance.  Did he know that the reporter was taking notes and that what was being said was 'on the record'? Without any doubt, YES!  Did he know that what he was saying would come back to bite him in his butt?  Hell, yes, he did.

So, what in the world was he thinking?  It is my sense that ol' Stanley knows better than anybody that Afghanistan is a bottomless mess, that we are never going to just 'fix' the overwhelming endemic cultural and societal problems of that country...and he stood a very good chance of coming home as a defeated general, one whose policies and strategy had failed miserably.  I believe that his time there finally made him realize exactly who we are dealing with.  The Afghans are some of the gnarliest and toughest people on the planet.  Living in a country that has more in common with the surface of the moon than it does arable land, and being a warrior society that has been run by warlords for many generations does NOT create a nation of mambie-pambies who toss in the towel when things get tough.  Hell, things are ALWAYS tough in Afghanistan.

Some years ago, National Geographic ran an article on Afghanistan that was essentially taking a good look at who they are as a people.  I was dumbstruck by the pictures of them 'playing' their version of polo.  The 'ball' was a 90 lb. dead calf with its feet bound together, and the object of the game was to snatch it off the ground at a dead gallop, and ride like hell with it across your saddle, as your fellow 'players' flogged the snot out of you, and  tried to grab it away. I don't actually recall if the game had 'goals' or a 'winner', but it was something so violent and so requiring of strength and unbelievable endurance that I do recall thinking to myself that these would be very bad people to have as opponents.  The Russians learned this lesson, in spades.  By any reasonable yardstick, the Viet Cong were tough and durable guerrilla fighters, worthy opponents deserving our respect. But, I must tell you that the Afghanis could give 'em a run for their money.

So, Stanley McChrystal perhaps realized that we're going to eventually pull out, having spent too many American lives, and too much treasure too.  And, I will just bet you that he was looking for a way to save face.

Think about it.  Generals hate being thought of as losers much more than being remembered as assh*les.  Some of them seem to take actual pride in being the latter....but, they all want to be WINNERS.

1 comment:

Teresa Evangeline said...

You're absolutely right. And, now we have David, once again, going out to meet Goliath, with five smooth stones. Shouldn't be hard to find in his current circumstances. We will soon do as we have always done in untenable situations, which this has been from day one, "declare victory and go home." I do hope, though, that history treats General Petraeus with kindness. There's something about him that feels right and good, despite the dastardly assignment he has accepted. When duty calls... This is such a well-written post, Murad. Thank you.