General Stanley McChrystal gave an interview to John Simpson of the BBC last week and it was broadcast on ‘Newsnight’ on 27th January. McChrystal seemed like a nice, polite man. But when he tried to demonstrate to Simpson that his troops were killing fewer innocent civilians than before, the interview went pear-shaped. 3 main reasons for this:
- He drew a line on a board showing a downward direction. This was not a graph or a metric, mind. Just a line on a board. ‘It’s going down’ he said simultaneously. Simpson could hardly keep a straight face but if this is the level on which McChrystal talks to a top journo, on what level does he talk to his subordinates – and on what level do they communicate generally?
- The point occurred to me that they shouldn’t be killing innocent civilians at all. Simpson was too polite to mention this.
- He compounded the gaffe by saying that in the light of the surge you would expect ‘more opportunities’ for killing civilians.
This was communication on a George Bush scale of surrealism. As with Bush’s howlers the ‘joke’ was on the victims.
McChrystal is supposed to be a ‘modern soldier’ whatever that means. Simpson tried to portray him in a good light. But he came over, as they all do, as a bonehead. Bill Hicks once said, during the first Gulf War, ‘I find myself in the unfortunate position of being in favour of the war but against the troops’. We at this site are in favour of neither in the context of