I was shocked and saddened to read a blatant mischaracterization of my late husband Michael Hastings’s Rolling Stone story “The Runaway General” in his obituary. At 55, he is gaunt and lean, not unlike an older version of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. The “Prison on the Hudson,” as it was known then, was a potent mix of testosterone, hooliganism and reactionary patriotism. 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. It turns out, however, that the narrator himself is the assassin, and he’s able to infiltrate the White House: “The President strode in smiling. Over the past five years, he's regularly covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?” Hastings replied. Want more Rolling Stone? We want to hear from you! The general’s staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. What I’m telling you is, fire costs you. “Unfortunately,” he adds, “no one in this room could do it.”. Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in … Besides, the public eye has never been a place where McChrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of the war in Afghanistan, he spent five years running the Pentagon’s most secretive black ops. Information Dominance, Michael Hastings, and Rolling Stone We once thought propaganda was the ultimate form of organized lies and manipulation. After all, he’d already learned about it the only way he ever deemed acceptable for a non hack: first-hand. The maelstrom sparked by its publication concluded with President Obama recalling McChrystal to Washington and the general resigning his post. Now With Alex Wagner. . “He once took me to a Jack in the Box when I was dressed in formalwear,” she says with a laugh. McChrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany’s president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. “The dinner comes with the position, sir,” says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn. But they are especially angered by Ingram’s death. The night after his speech in Paris, McChrystal and his staff head to Kitty O’Shea’s, an Irish pub catering to tourists, around the corner from the hotel. For Hastings, there was no romance to America’s misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight,” McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. It was also an unorthodox career path: Most soldiers who want to climb the ranks to general don’t go into the Rangers. “This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks,” McChrystal tries to joke. 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. “We are knee-deep in the decisive year,” he tells them. In “Brinkman’s Note,” a piece of suspense fiction, the unnamed narrator appears to be trying to stop a plot to assassinate the president. Anybody feel like you’re losing?” McChrystal says. “Bottom line?” says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the session represents the most forceful commitment that Obama has made to McChrystal’s strategy in months. In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. “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. Or was it? CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slammed Michael Hastings for his Rolling Stone article that led to the firing of General Stanley McChrystal. “Who’s he going to dinner with?” I ask one of his aides. Michael Hastings' reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal and is now the basis for 'War Machine,' starring Brad Pitt. He was 33. 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. But one facet of Information Dominance goes the next step. By some accounts, McChrystal’s career should have been over at least two times by now. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, National Security Advisor Jim Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not to mention 40 or so other coalition ambassadors and a host of talking heads who try to insert themselves into the mess, from John Kerry to John McCain. Michael Hastings. The Intercept . The troublemaking almost got him kicked out, and he spent hours subjected to forced marches in the Area, a paved courtyard where unruly cadets were disciplined. © Copyright 2020 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. “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. He was 33. No way I can tell you not to feel that. There’s a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. “He did: He always sought out the hard stories, pushed for the truth, let it all hang out on the page. He was the recipient of the 2010 George Polk Award for his Rolling Stone magazine story "The Runaway General." 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. He was 33. You guys feeling sorry for yourselves? In May 2009, as McChrystal prepared for his confirmation hearings, his staff prepared him for hard questions about Camp Nama and the Tillman cover-up. Being a highly intelligent badass, he discovered, could take you far – especially in the political chaos that followed September 11th. 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. The Rachel Maddow Show. As Pentagon spokesman during the invasion of Iraq, the general seemed more like a White House mouthpiece than an up-and-coming commander with a reputation for speaking his mind. “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. His class was the last to graduate before the academy started to admit women. Rolling Stone Send a Tip Pat Tillman, the former-NFL-star-turned-Ranger, was accidentally killed by his own troops in Afghanistan in April 2004, McChrystal took an active role in creating the impression that Tillman had died at the hands of Taliban fighters. Particularly when it’s really, really hard, and it hurts inside.” Then he spends 20 minutes talking about counterinsurgency, diagramming his concepts and principles on a whiteboard. 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 have to remove them, but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t alienate the population.” When Vice President Biden was briefed on the new plan in the Oval Office, insiders say he was shocked to see how much it mirrored the more gradual plan of counterterrorism that he advocated last fall. Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. “You say we’ve stopped the momentum of the insurgency. McChrystal and his team show up the next day. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word “victory” when he talks about Afghanistan. The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Six weeks later, just before McChrystal returned from Paris, the general received another e-mail from Arroyo. 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. “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. In Brinkman’s failure, I had succeeded.”. Over the past few months, he has accompanied the president on more than 10 trips around the country, standing beside him at political meetings, or shuras, in Kandahar. All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savvy to implement it. “I’d die for them. Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. Rhetoric that just a few years ago they would have mocked. Michael Hastings’ controversial journalist career. Hastings memorialized that relationship in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story. 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. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military’s preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states. “But it doesn’t get the same reception from infantry companies.”. In a memorable exchange with Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, Hastings’ aggressive line of questioning angered Reines. “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. This article is from the July 8th, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. “Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail. “The false narrative, which McChrystal clearly helped construct, diminished Pat’s true actions,” wrote Tillman’s mother, Mary, in her book Boots on the Ground by Dusk. That’s what we do. In February, a Special Forces night raid ended in the deaths of two pregnant Afghan women and allegations of a cover-up, and in April, protests erupted in Kandahar after U.S. forces accidentally shot up a bus, killing five Afghans. But we’re fucking losing this thing.”. McChrystal said he would try to make it down to pay his respects as soon as possible. A February 2011 article for Rolling Stone outlined one General’s use of an army Psycological Operations unit to manipulate the ... Michael Hastings was a … Author of THE LAST MAGAZINE (release June 17, 2014) and PANIC 2012; the New York Times best-seller THE OPERATORS; and I LOST MY LOVE IN BAGHDAD. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. 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His most compelling work was extracurricular: As managing editor of The Pointer, the West Point literary magazine, McChrystal wrote seven short stories that eerily foreshadow many of the issues he would confront in his career. “I found that time painful,” McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. “It’s all very cynical, politically,” says Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the region. It was for Rolling Stone, where Hastings had a contract, that he’d written “The Runaway General,” the 2010 article that resulted in the cashiering of … ichael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. But due to McChrystal’s new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. “You’d be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like ‘Who the fuck is that?’ And it’s fucking Stan McChrystal.”, It doesn’t hurt that McChrystal was also extremely successful as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite forces that carry out the government’s darkest ops. Hastings came to prominence after a profile he wrote for Rolling Stone on Stanley McChrystal, then commanding general in Afghanistan, which led to … I hope we can live up to that. Even Team McChrystal privately acknowledges that Karzai is a less-than-ideal partner. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn’t get run off. Even in his new role as America’s leading evangelist for counterinsurgency, McChrystal retains the deep-seated instincts of a terrorist hunter. A contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Hastings leaves behind a remarkable legacy of reporting, including an exposé of America’s drone war, an exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at his hideout in the English countryside, an investigation into the Army’s illicit use of “psychological operations” to influence sitting Senators and a profile of Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl, “America’s Last Prisoner of War.”, “Great reporters exude a certain kind of electricity,” says Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana, “the sense that there are stories burning inside them, and that there’s no higher calling or greater way to live life than to be always relentlessly trying to find and tell those stories. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. “It was pretty out of control,” says Lt. Gen. David Barno, a classmate who went on to serve as the top commander in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. And then there’s that little article he wrote for Rolling Stone – the article that led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal. Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. He makes COIN seem like common sense, but he’s careful not to bullshit the men. When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal’s side. The very people that COIN seeks to win over – the Afghan people – do not want us there. “It jeopardizes the mission,” says Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who supports McChrystal. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. “Hey, Charlie,” he asks, “does this come with the position?”. The soldiers complain about not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence. The media, to a large extent, have also given McChrystal a pass on both controversies. Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and a correspondent at large for BuzzFeed. “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. By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. General Stanley McChrystal, George W. Bush. In the late 1990s, McChrystal shrewdly improved his inside game, spending a year at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and then at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he co-authored a treatise on the merits and drawbacks of humanitarian interventionism. 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). 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. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. Theme: Media Disinformation. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it’s precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn’t want. But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. In 2006, after Gen. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his “surge” in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials. In addition to his work as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, Hastings also reported for BuzzFeed. “That’s the way this game is,” McChrystal says. “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.’ ”, McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. 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. 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. Cadets repeatedly trashed the mess hall in food fights, and birthdays were celebrated with a tradition called “rat fucking,” which often left the birthday boy outside in the snow or mud, covered in shaving cream. “We should just drop a fucking bomb on this place. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile. “You’re leading by example. 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. Michael Hastings. In addition to BuzzFeed, Hastings also has written for Rolling Stone and Newsweek. Displaying a penchant for transforming systems he considers outdated, McChrystal set out to revolutionize the training regime for the Rangers. Jared Pautsch. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. Michael Hastings’s notoriety was the piece he did for Rolling Stone that “took down” General McChrystal. Within hours, McChrystal responded personally: “I’m saddened by the accusation that I don’t care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally – at least I do. 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. Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger. “These were abandoned houses,” fumes Staff Sgt. Death of Rolling Stone “Muckracker”: The Michael Hastings Wreck–Video Evidence Only Deepens the Mystery. 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. 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. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. Michael Hastings's Most Recent Stories. It was the third man the 25-member platoon had lost in a year, and Arroyo was writing to see if the general would attend Ingram’s memorial service. Nine days after Tillman’s death, McChrystal was promoted to major general. It’s “insurgent math,” as he calls it – for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies. The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. During the Iraq surge, his team killed and captured thousands of insurgents, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. He regularly apologizes to Hamid Karzai when civilians are killed, and berates commanders responsible for civilian deaths. McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren’t buying it. He makes one last-ditch effort to reach them, acknowledging the death of Cpl. “Runaway General” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, won the 2010 Polk award for magazine reporting, and was the basis for Hastings’ book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan. 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. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’ ”. “JSOC was a killing machine,” says Maj. Gen. Mayville, his chief of operations. “The Taliban have a jackboot on the city,” says a military official. 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. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. On December 1st, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the reasons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea: It’s expensive; we’re in an economic crisis; a decade-long commitment would sap American power; Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, prisoners at the camp were subjected to a now-familiar litany of abuse: stress positions, being dragged naked through the mud. “That’s the game we’re in right now. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.” Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal’s inner circle. Global Research, June 21, 2014. COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation’s government – a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve. Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in … “Nobody was coming back to live in them.”, One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. If you’ve fucked up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice. What Happened to Promises to Disband the Minneapolis Police? “No way I can pretend it won’t hurt. 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. “They are trying to manipulate perceptions because there is no definition of victory – because victory is not even defined or recognizable,” says Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq in 2006. It is McChrystal, not diplomats like Eikenberry or Holbrooke, who enjoys the best relationship with the man America is relying on to lead Afghanistan. As the discussion ends, McChrystal seems to sense that he hasn’t succeeded at easing the men’s anger. . Such realism, however, doesn’t prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. “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. “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. 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. 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Operation, ” McChrystal recently conceded, so that makes him dangerous the end, however hesitantly, the! Inspect the prison multiple times and lean, not another e-mail from Arroyo,. A lower profile no real resolution the resignation of general Stanley McChrystal entered an Army that was all but in!

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