Click here for my latest NRB post. McChrystal felt into a trap set by the anti-war Rolling Stone. My analysis is copied below for archival purposes–please comment at the original link.
So you’re a rabidly left-wing, anti-war publication with a wide audience and you want to take down a war. What do you do? You take down the general leading it. And you do it by causing a scandal. The Rolling Stone story full of quotes from General McChrystal and his inner circle isn’t about the reckless running of mouths and disrespect towards the civilian administration—it’s about these officials falling into a trap.
Yes, as I just wrote, McChrystal and his top advisers were acting very unprofessionally. I won’t blame President Obama if he decides to fire him. But this story was a means to an end. Read the article closely and look at how it’s framed, especially the closing:
So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word “victory” when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.
The reporters don’t only focus on the comments. Those comments are surrounded with quotes and analysis painting the McChrystal camp as out of touch with reality. The war is lost. The counter-insurgency campaign can’t work. It’s time to leave. And General McChrystal and his aides are undermining the Obama Administration—not just by criticizing their superiors, but by deceiving them into thinking they can win in Afghanistan.
The anti-war figures in the media will soon latch on to the other parts of the article criticizing McChrystal’s strategy and the overall wisdom of continuing a counter-insurgency campaign. This report will ignite the anti-war base ahead of the November elections, depleting left-wing enthusiasm for candidates unwilling to oppose the war. The pressure on President Obama to pull out will be greater than ever.
If McChrystal departs, Obama’s replacement of him will tell us whether he has the backbone to resist his own base.