Small Wars Journal

Wayback Machine: When Rolling Stone Thought SWJ and COIN Hot

Jules Crittenden remembers when:

... Rolling Stone thought counterinsurgency was cool, as opposed to something that needed to be patronized and blown up? Set the wayback to May 2009, when Rolling Stone deemed Small Wars and Lady Gaga both HOT...

Jules continues:

Unsurprising, mildly interesting, and irrelevant. Trusting Rolling Stone in the first place was a bad idea. The kind of unguarded comments and behavior as depicted in front of a Rolling Stone writer were a bad idea. What did they think he was going to do with it?

And adds an adversaries take to boot:

"We are enjoying every minute of it on TV and the radio," says a senior Afghan Taliban official and former cabinet minister in Mullah Mohammed Omar's defunct government, who spoke on the condition that he not be quoted by name. "All the talk about this being America's longest, most expensive, and most unpopular war - and about the tension between McChrystal and Obama - is music to our ears."

And as for Hastings and his editors in regards to their "fact-checking" questions - "whoa Nelly" - from The Washington Post:

Rolling Stone magazine sent an aide to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal a list of 30 questions to check facts in a profile of the commander. The questions contained no hint of what became the controversial portions of the story.

The magazine's executive editor, Eric Bates, denied that Michael Hastings, the author of the story, violated any ground rules in writing about the four weeks he spent with McChrystal and his team.

Damn, just damn at The Washington Post.

Update: But wait, there is more at The Washington Post:

"There's a Rolling Stone article out," the aide told McChrystal. "It's very, very bad."

Forty hours later, McChrystal had been relieved of his command, his 34-year military career in tatters. Apart from a terse apology, McChrystal has not discussed publicly the disparaging remarks that he and his aides made about administration officials and that appeared in the article.

On Friday, however, officials close to McChrystal began trying to salvage his reputation by asserting that the author, Michael Hastings, quoted the general and his staff in conversations that he was allowed to witness but not report. The officials also challenged a statement by Rolling Stone's executive editor that the magazine had thoroughly reviewed the story with McChrystal's staff ahead of publication...

More here.

Last note from Jules:

... Yeah, well, that was then. Gotcha on a Small Warrior, turning a Small War on its ear, getting the president to dance to your tune, being the talk of the Taliban. That's HOT in 2010.


Anonymous (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 5:33pm

Lady Gaga is some nasty-looking strange. Who could ever think she is hot?

Larry Reilly (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 11:14am

That WPost story giving McChrystal's gang a forum to say the RS reporter broke the rules reminds me of Marion Barry's plaint: The bitch set me up.
I expect the "rules" blurred both ways when these guys ended up spending an unplanned several weeks together. This strikes me as being more like one of those instances where a politician says something really stupid, though quite deliberately so, and in the ensuing uproar complains about remarks being taken out of context or having meant something else.
And the pundit meme that McChrystal made a mistake or had a lapse in judgment is foolish. For anyone who read the entire RS piece, it is obvious McChrystal was being himself -- a bit too much of himself, which apparently is his M.O.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 8:15am

Don't forget the famous Lady GaGa video from the troops a few weeks ago... coincidence? Sure - IF you believe in that sort of thing... ;)

Anonymous (not verified)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 7:52am

Thrown under the Hot Bus?

That's it. We shall call this Operation Lady Gaga. lol

Notice how they prepped the information battlefield with a 'pro' story of COIN and cover with Lady Gaga, just to let the generals 'think' they are good to go with the 'in crowd'. It's like saying 'hey, we think your us'.

Then once they are allowed access to the big guy, they send in their hack commando to do his thing, get another Lady Gaga cover (complete with assault rifles), and detonate the 'suicide vest' called Runaway General.