Posts Tagged ‘General Stanley McChrystal’


July 1, 2010

Media Lense, July 1, 2010

The sacking of the head of NATO’s military command in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, caused a surge in coverage of the man described by political analyst James Petras as “Cheney’s chief assassin”.

In May 2009, Petras sampled from McChrystal’s CV. The general had played a central role in directing units involved in “extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions”. He was “the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building”. (’s_chief_assassin_is_now_obama’s_commander_in_afghanistan/?page=1)

Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal commanded the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSOC), tasked to set up death squads and paramilitary forces to terrorise communities and movements opposing the US and its allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. JSOC’s Major General William Mayville described the operation in Iraq: “JSOC was a killing machine.”

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Three Things You Missed in Rolling Stone’s McChrystal Profile

June 24, 2010

by Tom Andrews,, June 23, 2010

Unfortunately, President Obama missed an opportunity today to not only replace an out-of-control general but an out-of-control and failing strategy in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, mainstream media continue to miss the most serious story contained in the now famous Rolling Stone profile.

Michael Hastings’ piece is about more than an adolescent general and his buddies’ school-yard shenanigans in Kabul and Paris. It was about a failing strategy in Afghanistan and the disconnect between how the administration portrays the war in public and the reality of how the war is actually being waged.

Here are three points in the Rolling Stone article that contradict what the White House has presented to Congress and the American people about the war in Afghanistan:

“Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further.” A senior military official stationed in Afghanistan told Hastings: “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of US forces next summer if we see success here.”

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Afghanistan is now Obama’s war

December 2, 2009

By upping the stakes and sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Obama dons the mantle of wartime president

Olivia Hampton, The Guardian/UK, Dec 2, 2009

US soldiers in Afghanistan, where they will soon be joined by 30,000 additional troopsUS soldiers in Afghanistan, as President Obama announces plans to send 30,000 reinforcements. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

In announcing his long-awaited Afghanistan troop decision on Tuesday night, Barack Obama donned the mantle of wartime president for good with the escalating conflict threatening to overshadow his tenure in the White House.

As part of the careful and treacherous balance he straddled in unveiling his revamped strategy, involving the accelerated deployment of 30,000 more troops on top of the 21,000 he dispatched shortly after taking office earlier this year, President Obama was careful to outline his plans to “finish the job” and finally extricate the US from one of its longest wars, starting in July 2011. To avoid being sucked into a quagmire in a war he did not start, the president must take heed of the lessons of history, where infusing more forces has yet to grant victory for the occupier in Afghanistan, that graveyard of empires.

Obama, who was swept to power in part on his promise to end one war – Iraq – is now escalating another. Does this make him a man of war, or a man of peace?

His primetime address from the halls of the West Point military academy, capping more than three months of protracted deliberations and hours spent huddling with his war council, comes just a week before he receives his Nobel peace prize. When Obama finally holds up that heavy medal, it may be an honour that he, and the Nobel committee that awarded it, have come to regret for its political liability.

The wave of goodwill that blessed his historic election, the very aspirations the Nobel nod rewarded, all of that has now subsided as scepticism and disillusionment have settled in, the greying president now down in his job approval ratings and bruised by almost a year of political battles. The messy deliberative process on Afghanistan, punctuated by a flurry of leaks and counterleaks, showed hesitation and second-guessing at a defining moment of his presidency, tarnishing the image built during the campaign of a White House fully in control of its message.

And it’s only the beginning. The drums of civil war among the Democrats and partisan fights are already rolling, with Pentagon chief Robert Gates, the country’s top military officer Admiral Michael Mullen and secretary of state Hillary Clinton kicking off on Wednesday a series of hearings on the deeply unpopular war. Now in its ninth year, the “war of necessity,” as Obama calls it, has failed to cripple a reinvigorated Taliban-led insurgency, and neither made a dent in the booming Afghan drug trade nor brought stability to a country still reeling from decades of war and two occupations. It is also killing more foreign troops and more Afghan civilians than ever before.

In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, some of Obama’s fellow Democrats have already proposed a war surtax, with the US troop level now set to reach 100,000 at a cost of $1m per soldier, per year. Including contractors and military personnel, this means the US presence will be larger than that of Soviet forces at the height of its occupation in the 1980s. Factoring in hoped-for pledges from allies, around 150,000 forces are set to operate in Afghanistan, approximately the same number as US troops in Iraq after the 2007 surge.

Eager to tame restive Democrats while also reassuring Republicans he is not the naive peacenik they make him out to be, Obama made clear the “off-ramps” of US engagement in the years to come, with troop strength carefully calibrated to the Kabul government’s progress in battling rampant corruption and increasing the size and efficiency of Afghan security forces.

To close the gap between the president’s military orders – issued on Sunday – and the request for 40,000 additional boots on the ground from top US and Nato commander General Stanley McChrystal, the Obama administration is seeking another 5,000 to 10,000 troops from its allies. But with Britain, the second-largest contributor of military forces, only mustering a 500-troop increase so far, all does not spell well for that goal. Six others have promised reinforcements, while Canada and the Netherlands have already announced they are pulling out. Hillary Clinton heads to Europe next in a bid to secure commitments from governments also struggling to sell the war to their deeply sceptical publics.

The president is also facing dilemmas with a weak central government in nuclear-armed Pakistan, with Osama bin Laden believed to be hiding in its mountainous badlands along its border with Afghanistan after managing to evade the most powerful military in the world, and Afghan president Hamid Karzai seen as illegitimate by a large portion of his population. Iran, China and others also have entangled interests in the war-torn nation.

To the Pakistanis, Obama is vowing not to abandon them in a repeat of 1989, but the very talk of US exit strategies for Islamabad translates into growing influence from its arch-rival, India. While Pakistan’s own fight against militants is a key part of the plan, Washington keeps quiet about its involvement there because it is largely covert, mainly in the form of special forces operations and CIA-managed drone strikes targeting al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents, and out of fear of further destabilising an already fragile government. Last night Obama stressed that Pakistan’s stability was one of his main aims, with the need for a “strategy that works on both sides of the border” to eradicate the “cancer” of violent extremism.

In Karzai, back for a second term after fraud-marred elections, Washington has placed at the centre of its war strategy a mercurial partner. But Obama did not outline the consequences should Karzai fail to deliver, out of fear of further rattling an already tense relationship. That may signal a lowering of the bar on what defines success, the US satisfied perhaps with an Afghan government that can survive on its own. But even that’s a challenging objective.

For now, a war-weary US is braced for more flag-draped coffins and deeply scarred loved ones returning home.

U.S. Envoy in Afghanistan Said to Advise Against More Troops

November 12, 2009

By Viola Gienger and Roger Runningen, Bloomberg Press

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) — Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and a former top military commander there, has recommended that President Barack Obama not send more troops to the country for the time being, a U.S. official said.

The advice, which counters a troop-increase request from the current American commander in Afghanistan, was sent by cable to Washington, the official said yesterday on condition of anonymity.

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Classified McChrystal Report: 500,000 Troops Will Be Required Over Five Years

September 25, 2009

By Tom Andrew, former member of Congress, Maine

The Huffington Post, Sep 24, 2009

Embedded in General Stanley McChrystal’s classified assessment of the war in Afghanistan is his conclusion that a successful counterinsurgency strategy will require 500,000 troops over five years.

This bombshell was dropped by NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday:

The numbers are really pretty horrifying. What they say, embedded in this report by McChrystal, is they would need 500,000 troops – boots on the ground – and five years to do the job. No one expects that the Afghan Army could step up to that. Are we gonna put even half that of U.S. troops there, and NATO forces? No way. [Morning Joe, September 23, 2009]
Mitchell got the figure from an independent source. It was not revealed in the redacted version of the once classified report released by the Pentagon earlier this week. McChrystal has warned the administration that without an infusion of more troops the eight-year war in Afghanistan “will likely result in failure.”

There are perhaps only two people in America who think that this level of commitment is sustainable by the United States and its allies, and they left office last January.

Thankfully, President Obama is re-thinking his Afghanistan strategy from top to bottom in light of McChrystal’s report. In addition to the impossibility of sustaining the level of commitment this doomed-to-fail strategy would require are these stubborn facts:

  • 2009 is already the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the war began eight years ago. Fifty-one of the seven hundred and thirty eight U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan were killed last month alone.
  • The national Afghanistan election that Ambassador Karl Eikenberry hoped would lead to a “renewal of trust of the Afghan people for their government” was a disaster and has had the opposite effect. The European Union election monitor has found that over 1 million votes for President Karzai, one third of his total, may be fraudulent. General McChrystal himself describes the Afghanistan government as “riddled with corruption”. A government already mired in allegations of widespread fraud and corruption, now facing serious charges and compelling evidence that it has attempted to steal the national election, has no hope of regaining the support of the people of Afghanistan.
  • A February 2009 ABC/BBC/ARD poll found that only 18 percent of Afghans support increasing the number of U.S. troops in their country. This should come as no surprise. Historically, Afghans have always forcefully resisted the presence of foreign military forces, be they British, Soviet or American.
  • The presence of foreign forces strengthens the hand of Taliban recruiters. An independent analysis early this year by the Carnegie Institute concluded that the presence of foreign troops is probably the single most important factor in the resurgence of the Taliban.

Andrea Mitchell hit the nail on the head after revealing that 500,000 troops would be required over five years on MSNBC:

Would you prefer to have a president who doesn’t shift strategy when he gets this kind of ground troop from the commanders?

Right question. And the answer is: NO!

Congress should immediately convene hearings to discuss alternatives to General McChrystal’s proposal for such a massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan. It is time for the administration and Congress to demilitarize U.S. policy in Afghanistan and strike out in a new, sustainable, direction.

General McChrystal: No Sign of al-Qaeda Presence in Afghanistan

September 12, 2009

Also Guesses Ongoing War Might’ve Prevented Terror Attacks

by Jason Ditz,,  September 11, 2009

Speaking on the eight-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack, top US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal says that he sees no indication of any large al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Gen. McChrystal’s comments come at a time when the Obama Administration is facing an increasing revolt over the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and officials have used the “threat” posed by al-Qaeda as their primary justification for continuing the conflict.

Seemingly oblivious to having already dismissed the conflict’s ostensible raison d’etre, the general continued to defend the war, maintaining that it was winnable given increased effort and insisting that, while he had no evidence to back it up, he “strongly believes” the war has prevented other terrorist attacks.

Gen. McChrystal has recently presented a “new” strategy for the war, roughly five months after the Obama Administration’s previous “new” strategy involved a massive increase in the number of troops in the nation. It is widely expected that McChrystal will soon request another 20,000 troops for the war, on top of the previous escalation.

Officials Say Obama Advisers Split on Afghan Escalation

September 4, 2009

Biden Has ‘Deep Reservations’ About Expanding Afghan Presence

by Jason Ditz,,  September 03, 2009

Despite public comments being almost universally in favor of the continued escalation of the Afghan War, behind the scenes several key Obama Administration advisers are starting to express serious doubts about the wisdom of throwing more and more troops at the ever worsening conflict.

“There is a unanimity of opinion about what our objective is, and the objective is to disable and destroy al-Qaeda,” David Axelrod insisted. But as General Stanley McChrystal seeks another major escalation as part of his “new” strategy, several officials have reservations.

Vice President Joe Biden is among the skeptics, insisting that expanding the presence into Afghanistan may distract from what he sees as the real fight: Pakistan. National Security Adviser James Jones is also reportedly in opposition and had previous told McChrystal not to ask for more troops.

The vast majority of officials, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who had previously cautioned against sending too many troops, seem firmly in the corner of escalation. Still, the growing unpopularity of the war with the American public appears to be spawning at least a limited discussion in an administration that seems bent on escalating the war as much as possible as quickly as possible.

Gen. McChrystal Seeks 20,000 More Troops for Afghanistan

August 29, 2009

Plan Will Test War-Weary Public, Over-Stretched Military

by Jason Ditz,, August 28, 2009

According to a report in the Saturday edition of the Independent, top US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal will request another 20,000 troops for the war effort in Afghanistan, on top of the escalation already provided by President Obama, when he issues his new “plan” for the nation.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Shortly after taking office President Obama approved the addition of another 17,000 to the war effort as part of an attempt to turn around the sagging war effort. He added another further 4,000 troops in March as part of his new “comprehensive strategy” at the time.

Needless to say, the strategy did not work, and the situation in Afghanistan has continued to worsen. Gen. McKiernan was ousted in May, and Gen. McChrystal was put in place to attempt yet another new strategy. The release of that strategy has been delayed, but has long been assumed to be another escalation, which the administration seems only too eager to oblige.

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Senators, Military Advisers Urge Obama to Double Afghan Forces

August 6, 2009

Indira A.R. Lakshmanan  | Bloomberg News, Aug 4,  2009

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama and top U.S. military commanders are under pressure from influential senators and civilian advisers to double the size of Afghan security forces, a commitment that would cost billions of dollars.

In private letters and face-to-face meetings, these supporters of mounting a stronger effort against the Taliban seek to boost the Afghan National Army and police to at least 400,000 personnel from the current 175,000.


Uncle Sam, More War, Please

August 4, 2009

By Philip Giraldi, Campaign For Liberty, Aug 3, 2009

In “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare’s Brutus counsels “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken on the flood, leads on to fortune.” Shakespeare was describing how powerful men seeking yet more power, blinded by hubris, collectively brought about the destruction of the very republic that they claimed to love. Brutus was urging his fellow conspirator Cassius to fight the forces of Anthony and Octavian on the following day at Philippi in the belief that one more battle would end the civil war that had begun with the assassination of Caesar. Brutus concludes his exhortation with a personal note revealing that for all his high mindedness he was not unmindful of the lure of military glory, “omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” As has become increasingly clear to many, in “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare could have as easily been writing about contemporary America as the Roman Republic.

Who can doubt that Washington has recently had more than its share of would be heroes seeking the flood tide that will lift them up to feast in Valhalla. More often than not, that tide has been provided by war and more often than not the decision to cast the die on the battlefield has proven to be an error, leading to a languishing “in shallows and in miseries” for the entire American people. The latest call to arms is coming from the new American Caesar in Central Asia, General Stanley McChrystal who has a plan. McChrystal believes that Afghanistan can be redeemed after eight years of failure if only the United States provides more soldiers and the Afghans can be induced to dramatically increase the size of their own army and police forces. There are several fundamental problems with the McChrystal vision, starting with the fact that the Afghan government cannot even afford to pay for the army and police forces that it already has. Also, the offensive currently taking place in Afghanistan is demonstrating that it is difficult to make progress in an environment where the local population, having been pounded by US air power for the past seven years, is unrelentingly hostile.

But McChrystal thinks he can fix all that by putting more American boots on the ground, reasoning that mixing with the local population rather than pummeling them from the air will prove beneficial. Of course, the good general might discover that the presence of a lot of occupying troops who do not speak the local language and have no knowledge of indigenous customs might not prove an unmitigated blessing, particularly when they have to call in the helicopter gunships to blast the locals whenever they get in trouble. American ability to deal with local cultures has never been a strong point. I recall the advice of my old sergeant from Alabama back in 1969 when I was a member of the US Army’s Berlin Brigade. “If you don’t understand the local lingo whether it’s a gook or a kraut, just speak slowly and very loudly. They’ll figure it out.” What the locals actually figure out pretty quickly is that you don’t care enough about them to even learn out how to order a cup of tea and they act accordingly.

What is most curious about the McChrystal solution, which threatens to involve the US in Central Asia until 2020, is how the decision was made to add more soldiers. In true Washington fashion, McChrystal convened a sixty day review to look at the problem. Some members of the commission like Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security are highly respectable independent thinkers, but some of the other choices are the same people who advised George Bush, drawn from places like The American Enterprise Institute. It is important to note that the advisory group was selected to reflect a certain diversity of opinion in tactical terms, but no one was selected to represent an alternative viewpoint, i.e. that the US should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. It was a group designed to say “yes.” Not a single board member was opposed to the Iraq War before it began, has spoken out publicly against plans to fight Iran, or has recommended that withdrawal from Afghanistan might be in the US national interest. Not one. So what kind of result did McChrystal expect? The result he got, which is to increase troop levels and deepen America’s commitment to a war that is likely being lost.

Two of the commission members are particularly odd choices, the ubiquitous Kagans, husband Fred and wife Kimberly. Fred is a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute who claims to have been a co-creator of the surge policy that was applied in Iraq. His wife Kimberly is a classic neocon entrepreneur who relied on nepotism to work her way through the system. She studied ancient history at Yale under Donald Kagan and then married his son who later claimed to be the co-author of the “surge.” She is now billed as a “military expert” by the neocon media, and apparently also by General McChrystal, in spite of her lack of any actual military experience. For the neocon “Weekly Standard” she wrote a hagiography of the plodding General Raymond Odierno called “The Patton of Counterinsurgency” which might well be considered a comedy piece but for the fact that it was serious. She writes mostly about the Middle East, but does not appear to have working knowledge of either Farsi or Arabic like many of the other so-called experts, and is president of the curiously named Institute for the Study of War.

Another commission member Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution, has written two articles on Afghanistan entitled “Insurgents are not winning in Afghanistan” and “Optimism in Afghanistan.” The former was written last summer and seems to have been an inaccurate assessment even for that time period. The latter was written last spring. Shapiro might well regret his conclusions but his getting things wrong did not exclude him from McChrystals’s review board. Jeremy speaks French and Spanish and, like the other advisors, could hardly be described as an expert on Afghanistan. In fact, there was no expert on Afghanistan present on the board and no one could speak any of the country’s several commonly used languages. If there was an expertise present it was on fighting wars from behind a desk, something that only occurs in the bizarre quasi-academic Washington beltway think tank culture. As Washington insiders have only rarely seen a war that they didn’t like, the results of McChrystal’s review were more-or-less predictable.

So should Washington follow the example of the British and other Europeans who are seeing no light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan and are preparing to get out? McChrystal doesn’t think so and he has assembled a cast of Washington think tank luminaries to support his call for more troops, more engagement, and lots more money to pay for the same, even if it has to be printed up in a basement somewhere and converted into treasury bonds to be sold to the Chinese. In Vietnam (and Cambodia and Laos) there came a tipping point when the military effort was widely seen as going nowhere and just not sustainable any longer. When will the American people and its newly elected president come to that same conclusion about Afghanistan (and Pakistan and …)?

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