Layout from the Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General" by Michael Hastings, released on newsstands Friday, June 25th edition. (AP Photo/Rolling Stone, US Navy/NATO, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O'Donald) NO SALES
Today, Rolling Stone.com published an article by Michael Hastings, who has been on the ground in Afghanistan with General Stanley McChrystal. Given "unprecedented" access to the general and his staff, Hastings delivers six web pages of reporting that only Rolling Stone could deliver. The reaction it has caused and the power of the narrative thankfully proves that the power of the 4th Estate and the influence it wields in the 4th Branch, proves that the philosophy of democratic, civilian rule works and should prevail.
Released online three days before the published newsstand release date on Friday, "The Runaway General" creates a powerful narrative that reveals the strengths and failings of our top military commander in Afghanistan. It reveals the strengths and failings of the counterinsurgency strategy (COIN), upon which General McChrystal is willing to stake his life, the life of his troops, and the lives of innocent Afghanis. It reveals the hopelessness that our soldiers feel, a reflection and even their commanders feel. It reveals our most feared outcome of any military operation, it reveals that we are back in Viet Nam, and don't know how to get out, and even worse, it reveals that we don't have enough sense or courage to know why we need to get out. We don't have enough sense to learn the lessons of history in the region to find a way to play a different role in helping the people of Afghanistan find peace.
Hastings' article reveals a general, who in the romantic, Palinesque sense is "going rogue," but who in reality is a commander not marching to the command of the Commander-in-chief, and that's a dangerous thing. As a civilian-ruled nation we cannot have commanders in the field of conflict, shaping not only military policy, but exercising a stranglehold on local diplomatic policy as well, through influence pedaling and bullying.
The writing is on the wall, and many feel that not only will General Stanley McChrystal lose his command of the military operations in Afghanistan, but that he must lose command, for not only what was said in Hastings' article, but even just for the fact that he said those things to anybody in the press, from any news source.
If and when General Stanley McChrystal is canned, or even if he survives Wednesday's personal calling-out by the President and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and not his first visit to the hot water, it will prove once again that the words of the 4th Estate are not something to be taken lightly. Truth revealed has consequences, and the freedom of the press often plays a significant role in revealing those truths, and causing those consequences, making it one of the most valuable and powerful freedoms we inherited from our forefathers, paid for in blood, and supported by the power of democratic rule.
If you read no other articles this year of 2010, click on the link directing you to Rolling Stone.com and read "The Runaway General," by Michael Hastings. Just be aware, it is loaded with expletives and literal "F-bomb" quotes as people in power, and people under stress, and people under emotional strain are likely to use. Their inclusion in the narrative should not be condemned, but instead commended for its realness and accuracy.
Photo credit: This March 15, 2010 image provided Tuesday, June 22, 2010 by Rolling Stone magazine shows a layout from the magazine's latest issue with a US Navy/NATO photo of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on board a C-130 aircraft over Afghanistan. McChrystal was fighting for his job Tuesday after being summoned to Washington to explain his extraordinary complaints about President Barack Obama and his colleagues in the Rolling Stone article. McChrystal, who publicly apologized Tuesday for using "poor judgment" in the interview, has been ordered to appear at the White House on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rolling Stone, US Navy/NATO, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O?Donald) NO SALES