McChrystal entertains, shares assessment of international affairs during speech at CMU
He jokes now about the magazine story that ended his 34-year military career, but retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal was reticent to say much Friday beyond his well-honed speech on international affairs at Carnegie Mellon University.
“I retired in 2010, after an article in Rolling Stone magazine, you might have heard about it,” he said, evoking laughs during an hourlong talk at the University Center. “I cut my subscription to the magazine and brought them to their knees. And that day — 34 years in the Army, it's tough. I'm making a career decision of 90 degrees, completely unexpected.”
He declined an interview request to discuss his upcoming memoir “My Share of the Task,” scheduled to be published by Portfolio, an imprint of the Penguin Group.
The memoir was due out in November but Portfolio said the book has been delayed by a Pentagon review. It contains information about McChrystal's experience in special operations.
President Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan because of the general's critical comments about the administration's handling of the Afghanistan war.
McChrystal, 58, now teaches classes about leadership at Yale University and runs a leadership consulting firm.
It is crucial to view the actions of the military from the perspective of the citizens of Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
He told a story of two neighboring villages in eastern Afghanistan. Village leaders asked the Army forces in the region in 2006 for help building a school.
The military obliged, building a school equidistant from the villages — a short walk convenient for children from both villages.
“Problem solved. American ingenuity,” McChrystal said. “Pretty quickly, the school gets attacked and partially destroyed. We go, ‘What in the world?' The Taliban got us. But it wasn't the Taliban. It was the locals.”
McChrystal said he learned later that residents of the villages hated each other and had fought for a century for some long-forgotten reason. They were also upset that the military had employed outside contractors to build the school instead of hiring local help.
McChrystal said Iran is a “questionable actor” in terms of national responsibility and likely poses an existential threat to Israel.
“There are nine known nuclear powers now, and if you're an Iranian, why wouldn't you want nuclear weapons?” he said. “Every country that has acquired nuclear weapons gets a new level of credibility in the world. We wouldn't pay a bit of attention to North Korea if they didn't have nuclear weapons.”
He said building a coalition of countries to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions is a wise strategy.
In war-torn Syria, McChrystal advised similar caution. “I think that as terrible as it sounds, we are better off to make sure we know (what to do), even if it's at the cost of extended violence, before we make a mistake. We could make it worse,” he said.
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Water main break disrupts Downtown traffic
- Allegheny County Controller Wagner claims rival Flaherty benefits from ‘dark money’
- Portion of inbound lanes on Boulevard of the Allies will be closed Tuesday night
- VA hospitals in Pittsburgh, Erie turn attention to female veterans’ needs
- Work to begin on Fifth Avenue apartments in Uptown
- Burgess’ rivals for Pittsburgh council nomination owe money to government
- Western Pennsylvania watchmaking company says worker safe in earthquake
- Duquesne University, union spar over labor laws
- Western Pa. experts say nonprofit mergers take work
- Baby makes arrival at fast food restaurant in Hazelwood
- McKees Rocks council president arrested after SWAT standoff