US General McChrystal Apologizes for Magazine Remarks

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Agence France-Presse

US General McChrystal Apologizes for Magazine Remarks

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In this May 10, 2010 file photo, Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry at the White House. An article out this week in "Rolling Stone" magazine depicts Gen. Stanley McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON — US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal
was ordered to the White House to personally explain his criticism of
the president and his senior advisers, a top US official said.

"McChrystal
has been directed to attend (Wednesday's) monthly meeting on
Afghanistan and Pakistan in person" rather than appear in a secure
satellite teleconference "to explain to the Pentagon and the commander
in chief his quotes in the piece about his colleagues," a White House
official told AFP.

The leading military
commander in Afghanistan apologized late Monday for published remarks
to a US magazine in which he and senior aides mock and criticize top
American officials -- including President Barack Obama.

Tensions
between General Stanley McChrystal and the White House are on full
display in the unflattering article in Rolling Stone, although the
general said in a statement late Monday that it was all a mistake.

"I
extend my sincerest apology for this profile," McChrystal said in a
statement issued hours after the article entitled "The Runaway General"
was released.

"It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened."

McChrystal,
a former special operations chief, usually speaks cautiously in public
and has enjoyed mostly sympathetic US media coverage since he took over
the NATO-led force last year.

But the Rolling Stone article appeared to catch him and his staff in unguarded moments.

In
the profile, McChrystal jokes sarcastically about preparing to answer a
question referring to Vice President Joe Biden, known as a skeptic of
the commander's war strategy and imagined ways of "dismissing the vice
president with a good one-liner."

"'Are you asking about Vice President Biden?' McChrystal says with a laugh. 'Who's that?'" the article quotes him as saying.

"'Biden?' suggests a top adviser. 'Did you say: Bite Me?'"

An
unnamed adviser to McChrystal also says in the article that the general
came away unimpressed after meeting with Obama in the Oval Office a
year ago.

"It was a 10-minute photo op," the general's adviser says.

"Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was... he didn't seem very engaged.

"The boss was pretty disappointed," says the adviser.

McChrystal
tells the magazine that he felt "betrayed" by the US ambassador to
Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, in a White House debate over war strategy last
year.

Referring to a leaked internal memo from Eikenberry that
questioned McChrystal's request for more troops, the commander
suggested the ambassador had tried to protect himself for history's
sake.

"Here's one that covers his flank for the history books," McChrystal tells Rolling Stone.

"Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'"

Eikenberry,
himself a former commander in Afghanistan, had written to the White
House saying Afghan President Hamid Karzai was an unreliable partner
and that a surge of troops could draw the United States into a
open-ended quagmire.

The article is likely to exacerbate tensions between the US command in Afghanistan and the White House.

McChrystal
already received a dressing down from Obama after giving a speech last
summer in which he appeared to criticize Biden's argument in favor of
fewer troops in Afghanistan.

As an Afghanistan strategy review
was beginning, McChrystal had requested tens of thousands of
reinforcements and although Obama in the end granted most of what he
had asked for, the strategy review was a difficult time, the general
told the magazine.

"I found that time painful," McChrystal says. "I was selling an unsellable position."

The
profile argued that McChrystal has pushed through his vision of how to
fight the war, sidelining White House and State Department heavyweights
along the way.

His aides are portrayed as intensely loyal to
McChrystal while dismissive of the White House and those who question
their commander's approach.

One aide calls the national security adviser, Jim Jones, a retired general, a "clown" who is "stuck in 1985."

One unnamed senior military official speculates that yet another surge of US forces could be requested "if we see success here."

But
his own troops voice doubts about the war and new rules limiting the
use of force at a meeting with McChrystal at a combat outpost near
Kandahar city, according to the magazine.

One sergeant tells him: "Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir."

McChrystal also complains about a dinner with an unnamed French minister during a visit to France in April.

In
a hotel room in Paris getting ready for a dinner with the French
official, McChrystal says: "How'd I get screwed into going to this
dinner?"

He also derides the hard-charging top US envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke.

"Oh,
not another email from Holbrooke," McChrystal says, looking at his
messages on a mobile phone. "I don't even want to open it."

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