If he hadn't been loose lipped in his criticisms of Barack Obama, Stan McChrystal might have made Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Loose lips sink generals even more assuredly than they claim ships.
Still and all, Stan has a bit of wisdom to pass along. Two points. Don't ever think a new European war isn't possible, and, be prepared to give up basic civil rights to the unstoppable progress of technology as the price of security.
Just like the old days when people did their lord's bidding to be able to live within the town's fortified walls.
Read the entire interview here.
On how we got Afghanistan wrong - from the get go.
Not only did we not understand the culture of Afghanistan, but we did not really understand the players in Afghanistan—the former warlords, the leaders that had fought against the Soviets—who had become such important players once the Taliban regime was defeated. Although we understood in very broad strokes the Pakistani and Iranian positions, we didn’t understand the nuances; we didn’t understand the long-existing issues and concerns that they have. So as we started to execute a policy that on a superficial level seemed very logical, we ran into pressures, forces, interests, and equities of people that are, I won’t say immovable, but very difficult to move. The entire western world was very surprised by that or at least unprepared to deal with it. Afghanistan in particular was a case of finding a problem of much greater complexity, much deeper roots, and much more difficult issues than we appreciated.
On Syria, America snagged on its own history.
What's that, Stan? Saudi Arabia is now a "former ally"? Did anybody send the memo to Justin?
The concerns ahead:
The second area of concern is that technology and globalization have been great equalizers. Modern technology has given individuals extraordinary power. An individual with an automatic weapon can be extraordinarily lethal. An individual with a weapon of mass destruction, or a small number of drones or precision weapons can be extraordinarily lethal. Everyone now has precision strike capability; you can buy a cheap drone and put a hand grenade on it and you’ve got precision strike. It’s really difficult to defend against that. Suddenly the security situation has changed; anyone with a keyboard is a cyber warrior. The problem with the rise in power of these individuals—which really didn’t exist in the past—is that individuals in very small groups have a disproportionate ability to act. But they don’t have the vulnerabilities of a nation state. Nuclear power and nuclear strategy were always based on holding each other at risk. The problem is you can’t hold an individual or terrorist group at risk because you might not be able to find them—or they may not care. As a consequence, deterrence in its traditional sense doesn’t work. How can you prevent people from doing harmful things if you can’t deter them? In law enforcement it’s the risk of being caught and put in prison. A terrorist group might not care about being caught, or being imprisoned. They may not even care about dying. The only deterrents available are either massive protection—enormous amounts of security—or some way to identify and either persuade them or physically prevent them from acting.
Thus endeth the sermon. Go and sin no more.