McChrystal's comments are not particularly wide of the norm -- this is what war-fighters sound like when they're talking to each other. It's not polite, and it certainly isn't politically correct, but these are people doing deadly work. They develop cynical attitudes about civilians and our often impractical ideas. They do not feel understood, much less appreciated, by the political wheelers and dealers in Washington, and politically-motivated attacks on McChrystal will aggravate that. Let us not forget George Orwell's caution that "we sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." This is what rough men sound like, and we shouldn't want to wring that toughness out of them. They will not long remain a war-winning army if we do.
Ackerman analyzes the White House response:
None of [Gibbs's remarks] sounds like a White House that’s ready to scrap its counterinsurgency strategy in the year to go before it begins to shift to a heavier focus on training Afghan forces and withdrawing troops. But McChrystal will have to reiterate his commitment tomorrow to working with the team that, in many ways, signed onto a strategy he himself largely convinced the president to support. “This is bigger than anybody on the military or the civilian side,” Gibbs said. Translation: McChrystal can go or stay, but the strategy has been set. And that may be the greatest irony of the entire McChrystal imbroglio.
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