Stephen Colbert once again delved into the General McChrystal story on The Colbert Report last night, but this time, rather than dwelling on the catty insubordinate comments that got the general fired, he actually delved into the meat of the story with the author of the Rolling Stone article, Michael Hastings.
That meat was about McChrystal’s strategy of counterinsurgency, aka COIN, which essentially means that our troops are acting as nation-builders instead of Taliban fighters. As the article says “think Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps.” While that does sound somewhat positive on the surface, the soldiers are apparently not happy that it restricts their use of force and therefore their efforts to actually fight the war are hamstrung by policy. Colbert summed up that dichotomy by saying “I’m sorry, but peace is not the Green Berets’ thing! That’s the Raspberry Berets!” [see the photo above]
The party line from the government is that the replacement of McChrystal with General Petraeus is apparently not going to result in any change on how the war in Afghanistan is waged, which seems to indicate that the whole flap has a net gain of nothing. Hastings says that President Obama is ultimately responsible for the strategy that the soldiers are blaming on the generals, so Colbert asked him if that means the president should be calling for his own resignation as well. “I think that might be a tough sell,” Hastings replied with a smirk.
“I wrote the article to bring attention to the war in Afghanistan,” Hastings said when Colbert asked him why he wrote this article if there’s going to be no change in policy. “It’s usually very under-covered, although there are a lot of journalists there doing great work. I had no agenda to get McChrystal fired – I didn’t think he was actually fireable.”
“The key is that I didn’t fire McChrystal,” Hastings added. “The White House fired McChrystal, so I believe they used this opportunity to get rid of someone they weren’t happy with.”
Colbert continued his tongue-in-cheek attack on the fact that Hastings even wrote the story at all, claiming he took advantage of these generals who fight terrorists and aren’t ready to fight journalists. “When you walk around with a tape recorder and a notebook, I’m sure people are shocked when their quotes actually show up in print,” Hastings quipped back.
“You think this is a fair shake?” Colbert asked accusingly, bringing up the fact that two months after the fact, McChrystal’s press aide asked Hastings not to print the story. “Did you ever call ‘no backsies?’ Then you should have not printed it, sir.”