The Intercept - December 4, 2021
IT IS TIME to make a strange addition to the shortlist of essential documents on the dishonesty of America’s generals: a new book from retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal titled “Risk: A User’s Guide.”
McChrystal was removed from his command by President Barack Obama but afterward created a thriving consulting firm and often appears on TV to talk about war and politics. His new book is intended to be a primer for corporate leaders trying to navigate the perils of doing business in America. The conceit is straightforward: Hello, I am a retired four-star general who bravely led troops into battle, and I can tell you everything you need to know about managing risk.
There is a lot that McChrystal might teach us, because he was responsible for a series of consequential errors from which valuable lessons could be learned. Those errors include the concoction of a plan in 2009 to defeat the Taliban insurgency by flooding Afghanistan with as many as 80,000 additional U.S. soldiers. This was the kind of troops-and-money strategy that succeeded mainly in killing lots of civilians and helping the Taliban return to power.
On a less catastrophic scale, McChrystal actively participated in the cover-up of the friendly fire killing of NFL player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman, whose 2004 death the Pentagon initially blamed on the Taliban, knowing that this was untrue. McChrystal also took the ill-advised risk of allowing a Rolling Stone reporter to embed with his entourage on a trip around Europe, and the resulting article, which conveyed the general’s disdain for America’s elected leaders, led to his early retirement in 2010.
I am not arguing that McChrystal should abstain from writing about risk or suggesting that he didn’t have wartime successes. A book that intelligently drew from both sides of his military career could be useful. But that is not the book McChrystal chose to write, and for that we should be grateful, because he has instead provided us with a far more important document. “Risk” is stuffed with so many displays of dishonesty, ignorance, and banality that it’s the ultimate self-own for a generation of generals who led America into disaster after 9/11 — and profited from it. ...
Read full report at The Intercept