06.22.10

Did the General Think of the Troops?

The saddest thing about McChrystal’s reckless interview is its effect on our troops—who need leadership in Afghanistan more than ever.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan become more unpopular every day, and for people like me, who continue to support our fight against terrorism in both places, the General McChrystal incident only gives naysayers the ammo they need to think the worst about the war in Afghanistan.

Like most people, I am angry, I am perplexed, and I am confused about the Rolling Stone article. What exactly were the general and his team thinking, speaking so freely, in such a negligent and reckless way, in front of a reporter, on the record? I have no idea.

The last thing any mother sending a child off to fight in Afghanistan needs to hear is the egotistical rantings of a frustrated general and his staff.

What I do know is that McChrystal is a four-star general and considered one of the most disciplined men in the military. So it is hard to fathom how he could be so naive around a reporter.

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Excerpts from McChrystal’s Rolling Stone interview

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What I want to know is were the general or any of the men quoted in the article thinking of the impact saying such disrespectful things would have on the troops’ morale? Families are sending their children off to fight in Afghanistan right now, and the last thing any mother needs to hear is the egotistical rantings of a frustrated general and his staff. Even if everything they said was an expression of their true feelings, they have all broken a cardinal rule by speaking negatively in a public forum. They should know better.

This war is already being fought at a time of mistrust between the American public and the government. Each day, more and more soldiers die in Afghanistan. All this article does is belittle McChrystal’s experience and the work he has done in running the war for the last 15 months. Perhaps the worst thing for him is that he is now being seen as weak by a lot of people—and as a result, our war effort in Afghanistan is seen as weaker and less organized. It is a lose-lose situation. As McChrystal has hurt himself with this interview, he has hurt everyone else, as well.

The military doesn’t need this right now. We are still at war, and we have passed 1,000 soldier deaths. The rest of the world doesn’t need to see the general running the war in Afghanistan publicly talking negatively about our president and notable figures in the military and Congress. If McChrystal does resign, or is fired by President Obama, all that has happened is a further prolonging of the war. He will have to be replaced, and we may need a new plan of action.

The saddest part of all this is that our troops need leadership, and in the past the general has fought for the added forces needed. Once seen as someone with nothing but the best interests of the men and women in the military, he is now being seen as using poor judgment—possibly the most lethal image a person in charge of a war could have.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site mccainblogette.com. Her new book, Dirty Sexy, Politics, will be published in August.