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Gen. McChrystal falls on Michael Hastings's pen - Mark's Journal
mhaithaca
mhaithaca
Gen. McChrystal falls on Michael Hastings's pen
Well, as I just tweeted, Michael Hastings is one asshat who'll never again land an interview with a military or political subject. If you don't recognize his name, he's the freelancer whose Rolling Stone profile of Stanley McChrystal just got the four-star general relieved from his command post in Afghanistan.

I'm not sure which is more appalling to me, that McChrystal and his staff (all of whom, you can be sure, are experienced officers) were clueless enough to casually rant about the Obama administration's positions on the war and their opinions of Vice President Biden, or that Hastings and the RS editors felt it was OK to publish any of it.

While I would stop far short of saying this is entirely Hastings's fault, I feel strongly, as a part-time writer myself, that a journalist has a responsibility to tread carefully in a wartime interview. Whatever the interview subjects were told, it seems irresponsible and disrespectful to report on casual utterances heard during off-duty hours in a bar.

Yes, it was entirely irresponsible for the officers in question to utter them, in a (semi-) public place with a reporter present. Sadly, Gen. McChrystal deserved to be relieved today, no matter how effective he's been or how well his strategy jibes with Obama's.
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Comments
kinnerc From: kinnerc Date: June 23rd, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
While I don't really disagree with much of this, Mark, I've said this before, and I'll say it again:

>a journalist has a responsibility to tread carefully in a wartime interview.

We are not at war.

Or, if you believe we are at war, you accept the fact that we will never, ever be at peace ever again. Because this is a fight we can never, ever win. Worse, we don't even have specified victory conditions.

This is not a war. This is, at best, a police action; at worst, an imperial expansion. War? Look at WWII where whole economies were re-routed and civilian participation in the war was as important and nearly as sacrificial. Today we sit and watch the Dow and debate the latest advantages of iPhone OS over Android OS. Civilian actions during this "war" amount to the dog-and-pony "security" sweeps at airports and subways. There are many times when I feel that to call what we're in a "war" is an insult to the people who fought WWII.

The Gen.'s actions were unprofessional, wartime or no. We can agree on that. He did deserve what happened today. That being said, I find myself tending to agree with what I saw as McChrystal's absolute frustration. The civilian leadership on this issue has been appalling for years, and Obama frankly has not been significantly better. As Iraq showed, there has been no coherent overarching strategy, goals, or even victory conditions coming from the civilian leadership. The military has done what its been told and has done what has been asked of it well. But they've been given an impossible job because no one has been able to tell them what the overall job is.

The result? A continual loss of young men & women in a misdirected military adventure, and the erosion of our own civilian freedoms by way of a political atmosphere of fear that has only slightly lessened with Obama.

It might be argued that Michael Hastings did a good thing by highlighting and publishing what can be seen as the frustration being experienced by the military in the current situation. Perhaps if we can be made aware of how much of an issue this is, we may be able to start looking for a new solution.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Hastings and McChrystal will turn out to be just the "whistleblowers" that we've been needing.
queenmabwords From: queenmabwords Date: June 23rd, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
"We are not at war."

I see the issue is that journalists have to respect any war-like action as a war to protect the safety of the individual solders. Only time will tell us if this development will cause positive change, and the limited perspective of such individuals is not always the best vantage point for such decisions.
psychochicken From: psychochicken Date: June 23rd, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
By all accounts the journalist concerned offered the good general the opportunity to have the more contentious points removed. The arrogant ass declined.
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