One interesting thing about the Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal that has Washington in a tizzy today is that virtually all of the jabs at President Obama and other Administration officials came not from McChrystal himself, but from unnamed aides to the general.
Now, these are presumably experienced people who know how the media works, and it is clear that, at a minimum, McChrystal encouraged an environment in which such comments insulting to the chain of command were tolerated.Why anyone on his staff, let alone McChrystal himself, allowed it to continue to go on in front of a reporter is an open question. But while the narrative of the article, in which a rogue general sees the White House as populated by “wimps,” comes from much more than just the quotes, the quotes certainly fill in the blanks of how that played out on a day-to-day basis.
Still, it’s worth checking out the most controversial lines in the article, and from whom they came:
On meeting with Obama:
“It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
On Ambassador Richard Holbrooke:
McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. “The Boss says he’s like a wounded animal,” says a member of the general’s team. “Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous.
On National Security Adviser Jim Jones:
One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a “clown” who remains “stuck in 1985.”
On Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA):
Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, “turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.”
On an unnamed French official with whom McChrystal dined:
“Some French minister,” the aide tells me. “It’s fucking gay.”
McChrystal himself did mock Vice President Joe Biden on the record, and he also said he felt “betrayed” by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. But the comments of the general’s aides are doing a lot to stoke the fire currently surrounding their boss.