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Michael Hastings: McChrystal Was ‘Complex,’ Obama Was Naive, Afghanistan Is Hopeless
January 6, 2012 6:08 AM   Subscribe

Interview Transcripts from Wired.com Michael Hastings has come out with a new book titled "The Operators" in which he expands on his infamous Rolling Stone article that led to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal by President Obama. In this Wired interview, Hastings explains why he views our current situation in Afghanistan as hopeless and the real story behind the quotes he obtained from the general and his staff.
posted by RedShrek (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Civilians killed as a direct result of US-led military action: 6,215 - 9,007
posted by Trurl at 7:05 AM on January 6, 2012


Andrew Bacevich at Berkeley's Conversations with history tube channel.

This was before the Seals got Bin Laden; he says in that interview that Osama Bin Laden must feel right now as if he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. They don't say anything in the interview about Bacevich's kid getting killed in Iraq.
posted by bukvich at 7:20 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Operators is reviewed this week in the Wall Street Journal.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:32 AM on January 6, 2012


... why he views our current situation in Afghanistan as hopeless ...

Hopeless and Changeless?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:44 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it very hard to believe that McChrystal (who else it is supposed to be?) is, on the cover of the book, violating one of the Four Basic Rules.

From the WSJ review:

We now discover that the large majority of the incendiary statements came from a 33-year-old lieutenant commander. In "The Runaway General," Mr. Hastings attributed the lieutenant commander's assertions at various times to a "team member," an "aide" and an "adviser," leading readers to conclude that the statements emanated from a broad range of Gen. McChrystal's staff members

What is it called when you deliberately mislead people again?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:34 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is it called when you deliberately mislead people again?

Politics.
posted by ryoshu at 8:36 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


We now discover that the large majority of the incendiary statements came from a 33-year-old lieutenant commander.

In the interview, Hastings notes that he identifies the people who are making the statements as well as the deeper implication of what such statements mean. From the article:
But I’d like to make a point on that that needs to be out there. “Biden/Bite Me” was said by Jake McFarren, McChrystal’s top adviser, 30 year confidante and West Point roommate. He was not a junior guy. “Don’t get that on my leg,” [about an email from diplomat Richard Holbrooke], that was Charlie Flynn, who’s now a general. Dave Silverman [a former Navy SEAL] said some colorful stuff too.

There’s an impression out there that McChrystal never said any of this, it was his staff. No, McChrystal criticized [Amb. Karl] Eikenberry, McChrystal made fun of Holbrooke, and McChrystal decided to start all the jokes on Biden. Blaming [media adviser] Duncan Boothby, or blaming one of these lower level guys, when in fact you’ve got McChrystal, his top adviser and his executive officer who’s now a general himself at Ft. Leavenworth — these are serious people making these comments.

And if they say, “Oh, it’s all a big joke,” I would question that. If you were hanging around people as a reporter and they were making jokes about race or women and then they said “it’s all a big joke,” it would still represent a cultural attitude. And in this case it was a contempt for civilian control.
The WSJ seems to have selected a hawkish defender of the Afghan War to review the book. In light of the general thrust of the editorial decision-making over there I, for one, don't take this commentator's assessment seriously.

As a side note, there is a little more of this interview at Spencer Ackerman's Attackerman blog.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:52 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I’d like to make a point on that that needs to be out there.

I agree.

So why, when the original article was published, wasn't this point made?

Why, when the whole thing got whipped up, didn't he make that point then?

Guess everyone's gotta make a living.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:54 AM on January 6, 2012


So why, when the original article was published, wasn't this point made?

Hastings explains this...
I had named them originally in my story. But the editors at Rolling Stone decided not to use them for space and narrative reasons.
Does this merit skepticism? Maybe it does. My thinking, though, is that those who have a voice through the WSJ definitely are worthy of skepticism.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article really lowers my opinion of Michael Hastings. He comes across as James O'Keefe in the war room trying to invent a scandal to advance his politics.
posted by humanfont at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2012


I still don't know why we are there.
posted by stormpooper at 9:45 AM on January 6, 2012


In that article he alleged that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the man in charge of training Afghan security forces, had ordered a psychological-operations (psy-ops) team to manipulate visiting U.S. senators into voting more money for the war. The article was based almost entirely on the complaints of a single officer, who told Mr. Hastings that "my job in psy-ops is to play with people's heads." This section of "The Operators" does not mention that two other journalists—Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the Washington Post and Julian E. Barnes in The Wall Street Journal—quickly revealed that the would-be whistleblower, an information operations officer, had received no special training in psychological operations.

If this is true, Hastings deserves some real consequences for his "journalism".
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:20 AM on January 6, 2012


OnTheLastCastle in the article they claim that was revenge disinformation on the part of the Pentagon to show that they could play gotcha as well as anybody. Journalism from A-Z has this problem of presenting yourself real friendly to sources and then backstabbing them any time you can get away with it. It's a lot like spying.

Didn't Janet Malcom write a long Atlantic article or something on the theme of equating journalism and spying?
posted by bukvich at 12:01 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's an article Ackerman wrote a few months ago about McChrystal's methods: How Special Ops Copied al-Qaida to Kill It
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it very hard to believe that McChrystal (who else it is supposed to be?) is, on the cover of the book

Actually, the uniform on the cover of the book looks exactly like Petraeus's uniform.
posted by lullaby at 8:58 PM on January 6, 2012


Glenn Greenwald: Michael Hastings on war journalists
posted by homunculus at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2012


Hastings has an interview with Julian Assange in Rolling Stone: Under house arrest in England, the WikiLeaks founder opens up about his battle with the 'Times,' his stint in solitary and the future of journalism
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM on January 18, 2012


Afghanistan’s Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces
posted by homunculus at 12:23 PM on January 20, 2012


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