Saturday, June 26, 2010

"I hate newspaper men." General William T Sherman, 1863

General William T Sherman

The title of this post will become apparent as you read down further and absorb all the facts swirling around this last week as our military regroups after losing its field commander in Afghanistan. General McChrystal is not the first general taken from the field. During the Civil War we lost general officers as they were fired or shot down in battle. The Army survived and went on to win, actually coming out stronger whether the loss was intentional or the fortunes of war.

Amid the focus on Afghanistan, and the blizzard of analysis of how General Petreaus will turn the tide of war; is the continued back wash of what was McChrystal thinking? This post from Andrew Exum AKA, Abu Muqawama generated a bloom of over 70 comments that as Abu notes, are worth the price of admission.
Now that Gen. McChrystal is gone and consensus has formed that Preisdent Obama was well within his rights to have fired him, it's worth going back and looking anew at the Rolling Stone piece that got him fired. On the one hand, David Brooks in today's New York Times and Schumpter in the Economist lament the fact that public figures are now all the less likely to actually open up in front of journalists and speak freely. I don't think this excuses the mistake of thinking you could speak freely to a reporter from Rolling freaking Stone whose opposition to your strategy had already been established, but I take their points. On the other hand, Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald and others seized on a comment in the Politico that this would likely not have happened had Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone reporter, not been a free-lance. The logic is that a reporter from the New York Times or the Washington Post would have been more servile to the people they cover because they do not want to burn their sources. After enduring some members of the White House press corps who do, frankly, seem to exchange favorable coverage of the administration for access, I can understand their complaint.
Read more:
Beers on the table, Journalist and the public figures they cover

This fine follow up over at Zenpundit calls attention to the rogue pachyderm in the basement of the White House.
Miss P. bangs pots and pans, shoots off fireworks, uses her knee to pound a bass drum while blowing a vuvuzela in an effort to draw attention to the Elephant in the policy room no one wishes to address.
It won’t work until a Pakistani-sponsored terrorist pulls off an act of catastrophic terrorism inside the United States and kills a large number of elite Americans in Manhattan or the Beltway. After that point, we’ll get serious and these views will become conventional wisdom.
I just hope the terrorists don’t succeed in Arizona or Kansas - the story will only make page 2, then and policy will stay the course:
Read More:
Pundita on Pakistan

Finally, comes a post from excellent blog friend Lexington Green, who offers this musing on a possible motive behind McChrystal's supposedly lasp in judgement in letting his subordinates pound back beers with the folks that General William T Sherman had this to say about:
"I hate newspaper men.They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.”

Lex offers this to begin his analysis of what might have been on McChrystal's mind that night in Paris.
… I think I would find that he set himself up intentionally to let the Rolling Stone guy get quotes that would end his tenure.
Gen. McChrystal is anything but a stupid or careless man. He is a cold and calculating strategist, both against the enemy, and in terms of his career and his rise to three star rank. He was also a warrior who would expend lives as needed to destroy the enemy and to win. And he was willing to take personal physical risks as well. Sacrifice was something he was willing and able to demand from himself and others.
The article tellingly notes that, over his career, he had a genius for knowing exactly where the lines are, and how much he could get away with. Yet, here, he stepped firmly over that line. We are supposed to believe this was inadvertent? That is not plausible. I cannot conceive of Gen. McChrystal making the Homer Simpson “d’oh!” noise.
He had to know he was doing that.
But why?
Read more:
If I could read Stanley McChrystal’s mind …

No comments: