10/ Exit Bush Presidency, enter Obama years. Michael Hastings tells Huffington Post in a phone interview from Afghanistan, where he is embedded with U.S. troops: “Over … His rules of engagement put soldiers’ lives in even greater danger. “I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before,” says McChrystal, who adds that he felt “betrayed” by the leak. Michael's most famous story, the one that got General Stanley McChrystal fired, was a great yarn, but it was also about something: a military leadership that had turned its tactical sophistication inward, and trapped a president it disdained into a war he didn't want to fight. “Afghanistan is not in our vital interest – there’s nothing for us there.”, In mid-May, two weeks after visiting the troops in Kandahar, McChrystal travels to the White House for a high-level visit by Hamid Karzai. But then he goes away on his bird, and by the time his directives get passed down to us through Big Army, they’re all fucked up – either because somebody is trying to cover their ass, or because they just don’t understand it themselves. “Hillary had Stan’s back during the strategic review,” says an adviser. He accumulated more than 100 hours of demerits for drinking, partying and insubordination – a record that his classmates boasted made him a “century man.” One classmate, who asked not to be named, recalls finding McChrystal passed out in the shower after downing a case of beer he had hidden under the sink. After several hours of haggling, McChrystal finally enlisted the aid of Afghanistan’s defense minister, who persuaded Karzai’s people to wake the president from his nap. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’ ”. You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?”, A soldier complains that under the rules, any insurgent who doesn’t have a weapon is immediately assumed to be a civilian. Sign up for our newsletter. The Taliban, he insists, no longer has the initiative – “but I don’t think we do, either.” It’s similar to the talk he gave in Paris, but it’s not winning any hearts and minds among the soldiers. In the article, McChrystal is quoted as disparaging Obama administration officials, mocking Vice President Biden, … “Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail. McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. But even if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which has shifted its operations to Pakistan. The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. That’s part of what makes this all so tough: exiting, he leaves us all with little more than questions and a blank sheet of paper. “Some French minister,” the aide tells me. Paris, as one of his advisers says, is the “most anti-McChrystal city you can imagine.” The general hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too “Gucci.” He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux, Talladega Nights (his favorite movie) to Jean-Luc Godard. Where Gen. Petraeus is kind of a dweeb, a teacher’s pet with a Ranger’s tab, McChrystal is a snake-eating rebel, a “Jedi” commander, as Newsweek called him. “Unfortunately,” he adds, “no one in this room could do it.”. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn't begin “In this area, we’ve not made progress, probably. After graduation, 2nd Lt. Stanley McChrystal entered an Army that was all but broken in the wake of Vietnam. Then he’ll add, “I’m going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though.” In fact, the general frequently finds himself apologizing for the disastrous consequences of counterinsurgency. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive, and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made his infamous “stuff happens” remark during the looting of Baghdad, McChrystal backed him up. Michael Hastings discussed his book, [The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan], which expands upon … “This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks,” McChrystal tries to joke. “Michael was no stranger to trying to make sense this kind of tragedy nor was he unfamiliar the emptiness felt in the wake of a senseless, random death. The doctrine of counterinsurgency requires a credible government, and since Karzai is not considered credible by his own people, McChrystal has worked hard to make him so. What kind of car was Michael Hastings driving? “You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight,” McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Since last year, the Pentagon had been planning to launch a major military operation this summer in Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city and the Taliban’s original home base. Michael Mahon Hastings (January 28, 1980 – June 18, 2013) was an American journalist, author, contributing editor to Rolling Stone and reporter for BuzzFeed. “I don’t even want to open it.” He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance. Even Team McChrystal privately acknowledges that Karzai is a less-than-ideal partner. In addition to his work as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, Hastings also reported for BuzzFeed. And, I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me," she said, adding that she knows McChrystal's staff and McChrystal doesn't have a history of interacting with the press. A 23-year-old corporal named Michael Ingram – one of the soldiers McChrystal had gone on patrol with – had been killed by an IED a day earlier. And they’d die for me.”, The assembled men may look and sound like a bunch of combat veterans letting off steam, but in fact this tight-knit group represents the most powerful force shaping U.S. policy in Afghanistan. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The next morning, McChrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. Journalist Michael Hastings | Rätselhafter Auto-Tod mit 33 Der Reporter, der mit seinen Enthüllungen den legendären Afghanistan-General McChrystal stürzte It’s “insurgent math,” as he calls it – for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies. He had felt the horror of war first-hand: While covering the Iraq war for Newsweek in early 2007, his then-fianceé, an aide worker, was killed in a Baghdad car bombing. Arroyo’s platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president’s ass. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. The relationship was further strained in January, when a classified cable that Eikenberry wrote was leaked to The New York Times. During the worst years in Iraq, when the Bush administration had no real progress to point to, officials used to offer up the exact same evidence of success. The driver in the fatal crash was Michael Hastings, a 33-year-old crack investigative reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, whose June 2010 article, “ The Runaway General,” exposed the behind-the-scenes failure of top U.S. General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan—and, even more damagingly, revealed McChrystal's mocking attitude toward the Obama … By midnight at Kitty O’Shea’s, much of Team America is completely shitfaced. A week later, McChrystal sent a memo up the chain of command, specifically warning that President Bush should avoid mentioning the cause of Tillman’s death. I don’t think his personality has changed in all these years.”. I can’t just decide: It’s shirts and skins, and we’ll kill all the shirts.”. Looking back on the past ten years is tough for anyone, but looking back on Michael’s past ten years and you begin to understand how passionate and dedicated to this work he was, a passion that was only equaled by his dedication to his family and friends, and how much more he lived in thirty-three years than most people live in a lifetime. When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. ‘How’d I get screwed into going to this dinner?” demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. While McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent position on the diplomatic or political side. “This is going to end in an argument.”. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn’t get run off. But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. He makes COIN seem like common sense, but he’s careful not to bullshit the men. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it’s getting.”, “I agree with you,” McChrystal says. After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. ” The Washington Post quoted anonymous “officials close to McChrystal” claiming Hastings had broken agreed-upon ground rules and used … “I was selling an unsellable position.” For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics – a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. It’s a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He will be missed.”. He was raised in New York, Canada, and Vermont, and he attended New York University.Hastings rose to prominence with his coverage of the Iraq War for Newsweek in the 2000s. Moving around to different bases, McChrystal took solace in baseball, a sport in which he made no pretense of hiding his superiority: In Little League, he would call out strikes to the crowd before whipping a fastball down the middle. Michael Hastings called in to Rick’s List from Kandahar, Afghanistan, which makes for a challenging interview (both in terms of satellite delay and audio fidelity.) “In reality, that position needs to be filled by an American for it to have weight,” says a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations. What do you want to do? “The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense. “The Boss would find the 24-year-old kid with a nose ring, with some fucking brilliant degree from MIT, sitting in the corner with 16 computer monitors humming,” says a Special Forces commando who worked with McChrystal in Iraq and now serves on his staff in Kabul. His wife, Annie, has joined him for a rare visit: Since the Iraq War began in 2003, she has seen her husband less than 30 days a year. “We will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves,” Eikenberry warned, “short of allowing the country to descend again into lawlessness and chaos.”, McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. “There was the Gulf War, but even that didn’t feel like that big of a deal.” So McChrystal spent his career where the action was: He enrolled in Special Forces school and became a regimental commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion in 1986. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?”, The rules handed out here are not what McChrystal intended – they’ve been distorted as they passed through the chain of command – but knowing that does nothing to lessen the anger of troops on the ground. The president had thrown his weight, however hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd. Friends and family call for independent investigation into journalist’s obvious murder. Hastings’ unvarnished 2010 profile of McChrystal in the pages of Rolling Stone, “The Runaway General,” captured the then-supreme commander of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan openly mocking his civilian commanders in the White House. “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. He signed off on a falsified recommendation for a Silver Star that suggested Tillman had been killed by enemy fire. Michael Hastings (1980–2013) was a reporter for Buzzfeed and contributing editor for Rolling Stone, whose coverage included the CIA, NSA, United States Military, drones, and presidential politics, among other topics. A forthcoming piece in Rolling Stone magazine has sent shock waves around the world this morning as General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S.'s top commander in Afghanistan, has been summoned to Washington to answer for quotes he gave to journalist Michael Hastings. He’s also furious that McChrystal, backed by NATO’s allies, refused to put Eikenberry in the pivotal role of viceroy in Afghanistan, which would have made him the diplomatic equivalent of the general. In Brinkman’s failure, I had succeeded.”. He had little patience for flacks and spinmeisters and will be remembered for his enthusiastic breaches of the conventions of access journalism. © Copyright 2021 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. “We aren’t putting fear into the Taliban,” one soldier says. Hasting was driving a Mercedes C250 Coupe when he appeared to lose control and crash head-on into a palm tree at 4.25am in Hancock Park, Los Angeles. But the scandals barely made a ripple in Congress, and McChrystal was soon on his way back to Kabul to run the war in Afghanistan. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. “I want the American people to understand,” he announced in March 2009. “A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we’re picking winners and losers” – a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. killing enemies. It was a dangerous position, even in peacetime – nearly two dozen Rangers were killed in training accidents during the Eighties. In the first four months of this year, NATO forces killed some 90 civilians, up 76 percent from the same period in 2009 – a record that has created tremendous resentment among the very population that COIN theory is intent on winning over. In the East Room, which is packed with journalists and dignitaries, President Obama sings the praises of Karzai. Being a highly intelligent badass, he discovered, could take you far – especially in the political chaos that followed September 11th. “Even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan,” he says. “I’d come visit, and I’d end up spending most of my time in the library, while Stan was in the Area,” recalls Annie, who began dating McChrystal in 1973. “He started to look up to you,” Arroyo wrote. “As I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed – lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier.”, It is a disconcerting observation for Obama to make. Nine days after Tillman’s death, McChrystal was promoted to major general. The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a “bleeding ulcer.” In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. The general’s staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. “It was one of our first impressions,” one GOP official said in 2006, after landing in Baghdad at the height of the sectarian violence. He introduced mixed martial arts, required every soldier to qualify with night-vision goggles on the rifle range and forced troops to build up their endurance with weekly marches involving heavy backpacks. “Fuck, when I came over here and heard that McChrystal was in charge, I thought we would get our fucking gun on,” says Hicks, who has served three tours of combat. We want to hear from you! McChrystal said he would try to make it down to pay his respects as soon as possible. McChrystal wound up ranking 298 out of a class of 855, a serious underachievement for a man widely regarded as brilliant. “No way I can pretend it won’t hurt. “Even as a young officer he seemed to know what he wanted to do. But as he moved up through the ranks, McChrystal relied on the skills he had learned as a troublemaking kid at West Point: knowing precisely how far he could go in a rigid military hierarchy without getting tossed out. “The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people,” says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. Jared Pautsch. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story. 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Though it is his and Annie’s 33rd wedding anniversary, McChrystal has invited his inner circle along for dinner and drinks at the “least Gucci” place his staff could find. “Who’s that?”, “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. Sign up for our newsletter. The tables are crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks, and blue cables crisscross the hotel’s thick carpet, hooked up to satellite dishes to provide encrypted phone and e-mail communications. Hard-charging, unabashedly opinionated, Hastings was original and at times abrasive. It’s a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war. He gets briefings on his iPod and listens to books on tape. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that’s like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won’t have to make arrests. 21. They want to be able to fight – like they did in Iraq, like they had in Afghanistan before McChrystal. I’m sad that I’ll never get to publish all the great stories that he was going to write, and sad that he won’t be stopping by my office for any more short visits which would stretch for two or three completely engrossing hours. “He once took me to a Jack in the Box when I was dressed in formalwear,” she says with a laugh. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. “You’re leading by example. Rolling Stone author—and NEWSWEEK alumnus—Michael Hastings explains how he got such good access from General McChrystal's camp, whether he expected such … But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier’s view is his own.” Then he showed up at Arroyo’s outpost and went on a foot patrol with the troops – not some bullshit photo-op stroll through a market, but a real live operation in a dangerous war zone. One could … However, he said that the intoxication of the US generals and interests of the industrial mafia did not let it happen. “Did you say: Bite Me?”. Underneath a tent, the general has a 45-minute discussion with some two dozen soldiers. He systematically mapped out terrorist networks, targeting specific insurgents and hunting them down – often with the help of cyberfreaks traditionally shunned by the military. When Michael Hastings ’s unflattering Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal hit newsstands 18 months ago, it didn’t take long for the esteemed general to lose his job. During a recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Karzai met three U.S. soldiers who had been wounded in Uruzgan province. If you’ve fucked up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice. His class was the last to graduate before the academy started to admit women. This is an elaboration of Michael Hastings's Rolling Stone article--you know, the one that got four-star general Stanley McChrystal canned as head of the Afghan war. They mention the word “progress” 16 times in under an hour. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. His loyal staff liked to call him a “rock star.” During a spring 2010 trip, journalist Michael Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration. Today we all feel that loss: whether we’re friends of Michael’s, or family, or colleagues or readers, the world has gotten a bit smaller. He has ordered convoys to curtail their reckless driving, put restrictions on the use of air power and severely limited night raids. This was the creature at work in Gen. McChrystal’s career-ending decision to give a tape recorded interview—over drinks no less—to Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. “This isn’t a classic operation,” says a U.S. military official. Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. McChrystal entered West Point in 1972, when the U.S. military was close to its all-time low in popularity. “We should just drop a fucking bomb on this place. In February, the day before the doomed offensive in Marja, McChrystal even drove over to the president’s palace to get him to sign off on what would be the largest military operation of the year. “So many lights shining brightly.” So it is to the language of the Iraq War that the Obama administration has turned – talk of progress, of city lights, of metrics like health care and education. In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. He leaves behind his wife, the writer Elise Jordan. By far the most crucial – and strained – relationship is between McChrystal and Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador. “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular,” a senior adviser to McChrystal says. After his fiancée Andrea Parhamovichwas killed in an ambush, Hastings wrote his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story (2008), a memoir about his relation… “For a while,” says one U.S. official, “the most dangerous place to be in Afghanistan was in front of McChrystal after a ‘civ cas’ incident.” The ISAF command has even discussed ways to make not killing into something you can win an award for: There’s talk of creating a new medal for “courageous restraint,” a buzzword that’s unlikely to gain much traction in the gung-ho culture of the U.S. military. It was a typically bold move by the general. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal’s top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. (McChrystal would later claim he didn’t read the recommendation closely enough – a strange excuse for a commander known for his laserlike attention to minute details.) As a journalist, he specialized in speaking truth to power and laying it all out there. Six weeks later, just before McChrystal returned from Paris, the general received another e-mail from Arroyo. His class was the last to graduate before the academy started to admit women. The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France’s nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). Kit Daniels PrisonPlanet.com June 27, 2013. General Stanley McChrystal. I hope we can live up to that. Michael Hastings takes the reader behind the scenes for a very in-depth look at how his article came together and the dramatic fallout that immediately followed. He also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. Even proponents of counterinsurgency are hard-pressed to explain the new plan. 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