Andrew Bacevich sits down with Salon on Gen. McChrystal's ouster

Historians in the News

Should Gen. McChrystal have been fired?

I believe this matter has already been settled. My view is that he should not have been fired.

Can you discuss what may have been frustrating McChrystal?

It’s completely speculative, but I would think there’s ample reason for the guy to be frustrated in the sense that he’s been engaged in wars for about the last six years. He’s constantly deployed. He never gets to see his family. I think he behaved stupidly. But I certainly understand these are people who are under tremendous stress. And that sometimes causes people to do stupid things.

Have you seen anything like this before?

Of course. In the Korean War, President Truman fired Douglas MacArthur for professional misbehavior that was far more egregious than what McChrystal was guilty of.

McChrystal was well known for his commitment to a specific counterinsurgency strategy (COIN). Can you describe this strategy?

I think it’s a practical matter. What they’re trying to do is bring security to the Afghan population and once security has been established, they’re trying to deliver good governance with the expectation that security plus governance will win the people over to support the government of President Karzai. It’s what they’re trying to do. I think it’s a defective concept and I don’t think it’s working.

Read entire article at Salon.com

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