Now that the McChrstal Affair looks more like a combination of theater and high-command hari-kari in which McChrystal has removed himself from the role of General William Westmoreland in the history books, it would be a shame to lose what else McChrystal's team was telling us in all drunken frankness. Evidence is building that McChrystal knew perfectly well what was going to go into the Rolling Stone article. Editor Eric Bates said on Morning Joe on June 22 that "everything" had been run by McChrystal and his aides during the week-long fact-checking process, and McChrystal did "absolutely not" push back or voice any objection. Hastings told CNN:
"I had a tape recorder and notepad out the entire time, so it was all very clear that it was on the record."
"Eric Bates, the magazine's editor, said during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that McChrystal was informed of the quotes prior to its publication as part of Rolling Stone's standard fact-checking process -- and that the general did not object to or dispute any of the reporting. Asked if McChrystal pushed back on the story, Bates responded: "No, absolutely not." "We ran everything by them in the fact-checking process as we always do," the Rolling Stone editor said.
One person who doesn't miss much is filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who has made a video (below) calling attention to what else came out during the interview which may be the swan song McChrystal wanted us to hear, whatever his faults, and in this war and in the Pentagon there are no innocents.
"If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular. -- McChrystal aide"
That doesn't sound like a general particularly positive about the prospects for the next year. Why didn't he just say "Psst! Pull the hell out now!"
The mime lays bare what should be clear to most people by now: the policy in Afghanistan is there ain't no policy, except to keep it going. Fewer civilian casualties? More American casualties. More firepower and more civilian casualties? More hatred, more Taliban. The official policy for Afghanistan is to keep the money flowing, no matter what is happening, for Halliburton and Dyncorp, Xe-Blackwater and General Dynamics, who all pony up quite nicely at election time. That's as much of a policy as there is.
All for a war, people now realize, which could be won for the cost of a few months of military spending in the beginning, for carefully-targeted, Afghan-led jobs and development programs.
Targeted, cash-for-work jobs programs, countrywide, for a couple of years, building basic infrastructure would make the Taliban and the warlords irrelevant, as young men drift away and seek to feed their families in less risky ways. Everyone hates the Taliban, but in a vacuum of 40% unemployment it pays $10 a day and at least insures your children don't starve. We don't do nation-building? Too expensive? We've already spent $250 billion on military operations in a country whose entire GDP is $12 billion a year. We could have built this nation 20 times over and had real security in return, with the gratitude and friendship of the Afghan people who would be actively looking for Al Qaeda to kill. There is no love lost for Al Qaeda, the source of so many of their problems.
We need to tell Congress the McChrystal show didn't distract us from the fact that they are about to vote on dumping another $40 billion into war next week (or not.) We should insist that Congress deny the Pentagon funding for anything but orderly withdrawal, the way the Vietnam War was ended, and carefully targeted civilian assistance.
It is hard to believe that there are not many other generals who share McChrystal's bleak view, which leads us to the one thing could tip the war vote next week: if another general, right now, this close to the McChrystal thing, followed it up with his own resignation and no-confidence statement on the war. This would rock Washington to the core. We always hear generals saying how much they care about their men. This would be the best way to show it.