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The Unwinnable War and the Meaning of McChrystal

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Generals do not get weird when their war is going well. They get weird when their war is going badly. Take, for example, General Douglas MacArthur, the darling of the right wing in America who wanted him to run for President, during the Korean War. MacArthur wanted to nuke North Korea into submission to us and the South. The fact that we would be effectively declaring war on China did not bother him much, if at all. President Harry Truman fired MacArthur for rank insubordination, including his blatant pretension to being the real Commander in Chief and Truman just his lackey.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2010 and General Stanley McChrystal.
Why would any responsible military leader (or any other responsible person, for that matter) give such a dumb interview to Rolling Stone?
And why would he possibly allow top members of his team to insult top members of the Obama Administration and the President himself?
Referring to Vice President Biden as BiteMe is good third-grade humor
but otherwise beneath contempt, and the rest of the interview was not much better. So, it is worth searching below the surface for reasons.

One hypothesis is that this type of behavior, whether coming from Doug MacArthur, Stanley McChrystal, and even back to Hannibal versus the Romans, is proof positive that our War in Afghanistan is not going well. Indeed, all objective evidence points to that truth, including the ever-escalating military casualties, the needless civilian deaths we have caused by bad aim (particularly our drone aircraft) and bad judgment, and the declining support of this war on the part of what passes for the Afghan government and the Afghan people themselves, as well as the American people and our NATO allies.

The formidable Soviet Union military found its own war in Afghanistan unwinnable, and was forced to pull out. While getting the Taliban out of power was a worthwhile goal, and once was partially achieved, it is highly unlikely that we have anything further to gain in Afghanistan.

If Stan McChrystal had felt differently, in his heart of hearts, he would not have given an interview likely to get him fired. But getting fired from an impossible job in an unwinnable war is a disgrace, but may also be a relief as well. The General is probably relieved that the War in Afghanistan is no longer his problem -- but that War, like the War in Iraq, remains our problem, and we need to start detaching from both wars. That is the real lesson we need to learn, now, from the McChrystal debacle.

 

Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of Pownal, (more...)
 
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General Stanley McChrystal has sent us a sublimina... by Eugene Elander on Thursday, Jun 24, 2010 at 8:02:04 PM
A minor correction: MacArthur wanted to launch mas... by TomK on Thursday, Jun 24, 2010 at 9:01:32 PM
TomK is correct on both of his points; I shortened... by Eugene Elander on Thursday, Jun 24, 2010 at 11:58:03 PM