Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Runaway General

Read this article (PDF).

Michael Hastings, writing for Rolling Stone magazine, has set off a firestorm with this in-depth and surprisingly candid profile of General McChrystal, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Put on-line this afternoon, the article has lived up to its pre-published hype.

The General has already been called to Washington and there is rampant speculation about whether or not he will be fired as a result of his comments critical of the President and his team.

Advisors to McChrystal speak freely – and profanely - in the article adding color with their disdain for the political process and the individuals in government who must sell this war to an increasingly skeptical and hostile US audience. It is very revealing.

The issued raised in the article are dramatic and comes down to this. Be careful what you ask for.

Only removing General McChrystal addresses the symptom and not the disease. What needs to happen is a serious examination of a foreign policy that gives the military a blank check. Unaccountable for aggressive tactics and civilian casualties, allowed to control development efforts through the Provisional Reconstruction Teams, and asked to help fight corruption.

If the new administration is serious about engaging the world with diplomacy it needs to reverse its budget priorities. Currently the military gets over $700 billion annually, the State Department – the agency that is supposed to engage with the world gets $50 billion. That must change.

In the coming week wikileaks is also scheduled to release documents and later video of a deadly US airstrike against civilians last year. It will certainly add to the debate.

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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