Fox News' Crowley falsely suggests McChrystal criticized Afghanistan war strategy


Fox News' Monica Crowley falsely suggested that Gen. Stanley McChrystal criticized "the Afghan war strategy and the leadership coming out of this administration" in a recent profile in Rolling Stone. In fact, McChrystal offered no criticism of President Obama's war strategy, a strategy endorsed by McChrystal himself.

Crowley invents criticism of Afghanistan war strategy by McChrystal

Crowley suggests general criticized "the Afghan war strategy and the leadership coming out of this administration." On the June 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Crowley said that comments made by McChrystal, recently published in Rolling Stone magazine, are "going to reinforce the perception that this commander in chief is weak." Crowley further stated that "rather than focus on the actual interpersonal confrontation between McChrystal and Obama, we should be focused on the content of what McChrystal was saying about the Afghan war strategy and the leadership coming out of this administration."

McChrystal offered no criticism of strategy in Afghanistan to Rolling Stone

Article itself acknowledges McChrystal "got almost exactly what he wanted." Michael Hastings' July 22 profile of McChrystal in Rolling Stone 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 22 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."

McChrystal actually devised counterinsurgency strategy

McChrystal called for counterinsurgency strategy in August. In his August 30, 2009, commander's assessment of the strategy in Afghanistan, McChrystal wrote that NATO forces require "a new strategy that is credible to, and sustainable by, the Afghans." He continued: "This new strategy must also be properly resourced and executed through an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign that earns the support of the Afghan people and provides them with a secure environment." [NATO, 8/30/09]

Obama ordered 30,000 new troops as well as "a more effective civilian strategy." In his December 1, 2009, address at West Point, Obama announced his decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Obama also emphasized "a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security." He continued:

This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We'll support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas -- such as agriculture -- that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.

The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They've been confronted with occupation -- by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand -- America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect -- to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron. [, 12/1/09]

McChrystal praised president's change in strategy. Days after Obama's announcement, McChrystal told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "I participated fully in the President's Assessment and decision-making process and was afforded multiple opportunities to provide my recommendations and best military advice -- which I did. Combined with insights and policy considerations from across our Government, I believe the decisions that came from that process reflect a realistic and effective approach." McChrystal went on to say: "The President's decision rapidly resources our strategy, recognizes that the next 18 months will likely be decisive, and ultimately, enables success. I fully support the President's decision. The President has also reiterated how this decision supports our national interests. Rolling back the Taliban is a pre-requisite to the ultimate defeat of al-Qaeda." [Senate Armed Service Committee, 12/8/09]

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Afghanistan
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Monica Crowley
The O'Reilly Factor
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