Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal and the corrosive effect of war crimes

We noted back when McChrystal was put in charge of Afghanistan that his record was not an unblemished one. Our source then, the Sullysaurus, notes an Ambinder commment--
LOW BLOW: Avowed opponents of McChrystal are whispering about the DoD's inspector general's report on abuses at Camp Nama, which McChrystal oversaw as Commander in Chief of the Joint Special Operations Command. It hasn't been released.
--and retorts:
Low blow? What we saw at Camp Nama was the same kind of towel-snapping, the rules-don't-apply-to-us arrogance among McChrystal's men that we see in the Rolling Stone fiasco. Except the result then was not political embarrassment but eager and unrestrained engagement in war crimes.
Lay that alongside Mike Hastings's comments on his Rolling Stone story that sparked the present crisis:
What’s the response from the military been? Do you think your access will be cut in the future?

The most interesting response has been, in Kandahar, and having more than one person come up to me and saying, "We heard about your story, and we like McChrystal, but the message needs to get out there that these restrictions he’s putting on the soldiers are no good." So it’s actually been a positive response among the soldiers here.
Those restrictions being of course the rules trying to limit the collateral, or simply arbitrary, slaughter of innocent Afghan civilians.

I infer a link between the no-rules attitude in Iraq and the lack of respect for civilian authority in Afghanistan today. Soldiers who've formed the idea that their own safety is paramount, that killing or torturing anyone suspicious is part of the job, and that any orders to the contrary are the work of faggotty civilian pussies who've never been shot at -- well, that's what we seem to have. Lax command and discipline are very hard to fix, and we've seen years now of looking the other way (when not actively encouraging abuses).

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