NY Post editorial is full of misinformation -- period

Writing that President Obama is “a pacifist who doesn't believe in war -- period,” a New York Post editorial claimed that the rules of engagement in Afghanistan “severely constrain” troops from “defending themselves” and that surge troops “won't all have arrived until this December.” In fact, the rules of engagement explicitly allow troops to defend themselves, and additional troops are set to arrive by the end of summer.

NY Post claims rules of engagement “severely constrain” troops from “defending themselves,” but rules explicitly allow for “self-defense”

NY Post says rules give “Taliban fighters a free pass.” In a June 28 editorial about Gen. Stanley McChrystal stepping down as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the New York Post wrote: “Equally infuriating infantrymen are rules of engagement that severely constrain their use of lethal force in rooting out the Taliban -- or even in defending themselves.” The editorial continued: "[I]t reaches absurdity when the effect is to allow Taliban fighters a free pass."

McChrystal: Rules do not “prevent commanders from protecting the lives of their men and women as a matter of self-defense.” In declassified portions of a revised "Tactical Directive" to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan issued in July 2009, McChrystal wrote: “This directive does not prevent commanders from protecting the lives of their men and women as a matter of self-defense where it is determined no other options (specific options deleted due to operational safety) are available to effectively counter the threat.” McChrystal also wrote: “I recognize that the carefully controlled and disciplined employment of force entails risks to our troops -- and we must work to mitigate that risk wherever possible. But excessive use of force resulting in an alienated population will produce far greater risks.”

Editorial claims “troops won't all have arrived until this December” is contradicted by Adm. Mullen's testimony

Editorial calls troop level plan a “crippling stipulation.” The Post wrote in a June 28 editorial:

McChrystal had been the most forceful advocate for a surge in Afghanistan -- requesting 40,000 more troops to replicate the Iraq strategy modeled by the Marine Corps in Anbar Province, and that Petraeus adopted for the country at large.

Obama finally gave him 30,000, but only after three months of dithering.

Moreover, the authorized troops won't all have arrived until this December -- and the president has stipulated that they'll all start to come home by July 2011.

Talk about a crippling stipulation.

Mullen: Two-thirds of authorized troops already deployed, rest by “summer and early fall.” In his June 16 testimony before the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee (accessed via the Nexis database), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testified: “As of mid-June 2010, we have moved roughly 20,000 troops to Afghanistan, with the remainder of the 30,000 increase arriving as rapidly as possible over the summer and early fall, making a major contribution to reversing Taliban momentum this year.”

NY Post falsely suggests McChrystal criticized Obama's “leadership”

Editorial: “McChrystal saga has made plain, it's the military's suspicion ... that America's civilian leadership isn't fully committed to victory.” In the editorial, the Post wrote that “it's time for [Obama] to take McChrystal's criticism to heart” and "[i]f there's one thing the McChrystal saga has made plain, it's the military's suspicion -- voiced among commanders and in the ranks as well -- that America's civilian leadership isn't fully committed to victory." The editorial added: “And, more to the point, that the president himself is fundamentally a pacifist who doesn't believe in war -- period -- and who ultimately will flinch from fighting this one.”

Rolling Stone article reports that McChrystal “got almost exactly what he wanted.” In the July 22 Rolling Stone profile of McChrystal that precipitated his resignation, Michael Hastings did not report that McChrystal criticized the administration's war strategy. To the contrary, Hastings reported that McChrystal advocated “a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency” and that "[i]n the end ... McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted."

NY Times: “McChrystal and his aides did not overtly criticize administration policy.” Reporting on the Rolling Stone article, The New York Times wrote: “There has been vigorous debate within the administration about how to proceed in Afghanistan, but General McChrystal and his aides did not overtly criticize administration policy. Rather, the differences were personal, and publicly aired.”

Wash. Post: Administration officials don't see “an unraveling of consensus around the war strategy .” The Washington Post reported in a June 23 article: “Several administration officials portrayed McChrystal's comments, made this spring in the presence of a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, as a reflection of 'behavior' rather than an unraveling of consensus around the war strategy. Some speculated that what many consider his tactical brilliance did not translate well in Washington's political arena. Others said that after years of 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week warfare, one interlude in which he and his staff unwisely unwound had no bearing on McChrystal's competence and commitment to the strategy.”