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Bildt defends embattled US General McChrystal

AFP/The Local · 23 Jun 2010, 17:51

Published: 23 Jun 2010 17:51 GMT+02:00

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US President Barack Obama met McChrystal, the country's top commander in Afghanistan, for half-hour one-on-one talks Wednesday in Washington amid speculation that the four-star US general might be fired for disparaging remarks in the article.

"In order to be successful in our operations in Afghanistan, we need

long-term stability and strategic patience in what we do," Bildt told a news


In Rolling Stone's profile, titled "The Runaway General," McChrystal aides

mocked US Vice President Joe Biden, dismissed Obama's national security

adviser as "a clown" and revealed that McChrystal was "disappointed" by his

first meeting with Obama.

On his blog, Bildt said that the possibility the general would be fired was

"clearly disappointing" and downplayed the comments as "not well

thought out."

"I have read the article mentioned and the only quote of General

McChrystal I've noticed, is that he notices he gets 'another e-mail' from

Richard Holbrooke," Bildt told reporters, referring to the US special envoy to

Story continues below…

the region.

"The rest is said by other people. Let's say that I have myself worked with

Mr. Holbrooke through the years, so I understand the sentiment expressed," he added ironically. "I'm not the American authorities, but I wouldn't bother too much."

Sweden has contributed 500 soldiers to the international force in


AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:20 June 23, 2010 by greekgod
Who is Bildt to defend an American General. It is Obama's choice whether to fire him for his stupid remarks not Bild'ts. Mind your own business...what king of uproar would there be if Obama opined on the possible firing of a Swedish General.
19:37 June 23, 2010 by Roy E

Sweden has troops in Afghanistan. Granted it is a small token force, nonetheless it gives them a right to opine. And Bildt is quite right to be critical of the clueless Obama.
19:43 June 23, 2010 by greekgod
Roy E, Sweden has 500 troops assigned to NATO or PFP. Obama is not clueless, he is just cleaning up the mess Bush left him. Bildt is not critical of Obama but has opined on the internal workings of the U.S. military structure. What if the shoe was on the other foot.
19:54 June 23, 2010 by Abbot
Obama has just fired McCrystal even though a major operation is in progress and Afghan officials asked him not to do it at this time because of the operation. This shows Obama's ego is bigger than his strategic sense. There was no doubt that McCrystal would get the axe over his interview; it was the timing that was important and Obama ----ed that up to satisfy his own feelings instead of looking at the big picture. The general could have been removed AFTER the operation so as not to jeopardize it.
20:26 June 23, 2010 by rufus.t.firefly
The firing of Gen. McCrystal was not for his one quote about Obama in the Rolling Stone article, nor his snarky aside regarding Holbrooke. It was about a history of overt disrespect for civilian authority over the US armed services, a bedrock constitutional issue. The President, any president, cannot allow insubordination of military commanders, or even the perception of it.

It was salutary and overdue for President Obama to draw a line in the sand. That said, it would have been much better to change the policy as well as personnel.

As for Carl Bildt, his hair was a mess and his fake military decorations were all crooked at the royal wedding. He looked hungover and preoccupied, perhaps about some investigation or other.
21:04 June 23, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Fine work soldier. Though out of protocol, I couldn't serve directly for such a incompetent administration either.
21:14 June 23, 2010 by J Jack
@ abbot & ruffus. McCrystal was not fired. He was relieved of his post in Afghanistan and remains a General in the US forces, however, he has subsequently resigned of his own will to an indefinite sabbatical. The President cannot just easily fire or strip a General of his rank. Now I will try to review your comments in context with reality.
21:26 June 23, 2010 by rufus.t.firefly
@J Jack

Obama accepted his resignation, relieving him of his command in Afghanistan. I didn't mean in any way to say that he was stripped of rank. Using the word "fired" was a bad choice of words.
22:37 June 23, 2010 by Renfeh Hguh
Is is actually possible to disrespect politicians? Disrespecting a crack-whore seems more possible.

Disobey orders, sure sack him, but sack him for disrespect, pull your heat out of your arse.
23:03 June 23, 2010 by greekgod
Rufus in on point...the rest of you don't understand that Obama is the Commander in Chief of all U.S. Armed Forces and can fire anyone as he pleases.
00:40 June 24, 2010 by GLO
As a vietnam vetern I was sad to see the resignation. But, the General made a fatal mistake, even a private can not say what he believes. Thats the way it is. What he said is widely supported by the public and most in the military. Sorry,you cant say it.

We have many good commanders life goes on. Oh, YOUR guy knew the the Gen. and thats called being a FRIEND. HERE HERE.

Thats why I am proud to be an American Swedish Brother.
00:47 June 24, 2010 by BillyB
China, North Korea, Iran, USA....all the same really...speak your mind about the leaders and you will be punished.

Doesn't pay to have your own opinion....please follow the glorious leader
01:49 June 24, 2010 by grantike
one thing i have learnt is you never bite the finger that feeds you.do you ever criticize someone that signs your pay check publicly HELL NO,you can do that in your bedroom with your wife and kids.i have said this before secrets and personal views could end up fighting back at you.its better not talk to press when you are on sensitive post and office.i still wonder if there are anymore secrets.military is different some FBI summer camp i have been to is something else talk of war commander.sorry commANDER KEEPS YOUR LIPS SEALED NEXT TIME
01:50 June 24, 2010 by Coalbanks
You leave publicly-expressed personal opinions and politics in the locker when you join-up. Officers of this rank do not make their personal or professional opinions public unless clearing it with the Commander in Chief. McCrystal can say what he wants after he leaves office. Until then he should make his professional opinions to the CinC very clear and direct.
02:48 June 24, 2010 by Michael84
Am i just too liberal and free thinker or some of peeps commenting here are just narrow minded? This minister claimed his personal opinion. He's first a free human and then a minister. Come on peeps grow up.
06:06 June 24, 2010 by Typical Whitey
What General McCrystal implied about Obama is true. He is weak, dislikes the military (and the troops dislike Obama), truly inept and unqualified to run even a 7/11 let alone the USA.

My son is about to leave for Afghanistan - and served two tours in Iraq. I am glad to see General Petraeus in charge now. But McCrystal was a fine general. Ask the men who served under his command.
08:12 June 24, 2010 by wenddiver
I can't imagine this being Obama's priority with the BP disaster, the PIGS crisis in Europe, a Major Offensive in Afganistan about to begin, ridiculous un-employment and chaos in the Democratic party.

Nationally and as a world leader he is a community-DIS-ORGANIZER.

08:39 June 24, 2010 by sweco1
This whole deal is all bull.

Rolling Stone is another of their mouth pieces
09:15 June 24, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
Obama had no choice (the only compromise he made was letting McChrystall resign rather than firing him). Just as Harry Truman before him had to deal with an insubordinated MacArthur, Obama needs to reinforce the chain of command MacArthur came home to a ticker tape parade and Truman's ratings hit an all time low. But what Truman and Obama did was right otherwise America moves swiftly from a republic to a military regime.

Finally, McChrystall ,must have been either ignorant or arrogant to have let Rolling Stone bunk up with him. They have been the mouthpiece of the Liberal Left since since the anti-Vietnam protests in the 1960s. Duuuuuh
10:48 June 24, 2010 by RobinHood
The General showed open disrespect to his Commander in Chief and the VP, and he has to go. That's the way it is in the US militiary. The General understands that.

I sympathise with Obama. He has inherited an unwinnable war started by his simple-minded predecessor, who should have been better advised. The Taliban don't have the militiary strength to chase helicopters off the roof of the US embassy in Kabul, but the US doesn't have the militiary strength to wipe out the Taliban. The Taliban can keep this up for ever, but no democracy can fight an endless unwinnable war.

Sooner or later, a US president is going to have to declare victory and get out with as much dignity as possible, preferably with Bin Laden's head on a spike.
13:09 June 24, 2010 by G Kin
@Typical Whitey.

It seem so clear on your mind how weak and unqualified Obama is!.

You clearly are a right wing war munger that dislikes a civilian leader.

One that is compsed and inteligent for that matter isn't your type.

You would rather have an aggresive leader with a military background to bully the world. Yet you want to call your country a democracy. One with no millitary submission to civilian authority?.

If you are a veteran then you should know that Gen. McCrystal acted ricklessly even if what he said was right. And too bad, as a millitary person, let alone a leader, you just can't say voice your opinions in public like that.

President Obama makes it clear that he welcomes open discussion but will not tolorate divisiveness. Gen. McCrystal has been a great general, but one tha has made a terrible mistake. A sad way for such a great career to end!
13:44 June 24, 2010 by Audrian
This general had acted like third-world generals who shout obscene words before they kill their opponents and take state power.

The underlying conflict between the general (military) and the civilian administration is a sign of frustration because the war does not seem winnable. Like the generals in the Vietnam War, the general wants to continue to fight even when the chance of winning is minimal, because soldiers are not trained to loose. On the other hand his civilian bosses have understood that Afghanistan is quagmire and want to see out.

Soviet Union had one of the finest army in the world; it lost the war in Afghanistan. Nothing different is going on for the US!
15:08 June 24, 2010 by Marc the Texan
It was his duty to resign. And if he didn't resign then it would have been on Obama to relieve him of command. Preserving discipline and obedience in the chain of command is imperative. Operationally it won't make any difference. The military is prepared for casualties, even at the top.
17:37 June 24, 2010 by tadchem
McChrystal is a top-line General. The direct quotes attributed to him by the Rolling Stone article are innocuous. His *real* mistake was to grant the press 'interview time' rather than a formal breifing. This enabled the press to put words into his mouth and condemn him with innuendo. The General's duty is to do what his ruler tells him to accomplish and to keep his mouth shut in public.

Anyone who understands Sun Tzu knows that deception is a basic tool of war, and the press is most useful when used to misinform the enemy. For his failure to understand the proper use of the Press, McChrystal should be replaced.

The personal loyalty of McChrystal's troops means that US military morale will inevitably fall, to the detriment of the mission and to the discredit of the ruler - Obama.
20:50 June 24, 2010 by Rebel
Obama is a psychopath at worst, or a chronic narcissist at best. I will bet if you ask the soldiers putting their lives on the line every day who they side with (the general or His Magesty) they would side with the general.
22:58 June 24, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Those are good words from Mr. Bildt about Kyrgyzstan

With regard to the cheap pre-election shots that Bodström and the desperate Social Democrats have been firing at Carl Bildt – no Human Rights lawyer am I, but I was preparing a defence of Carl Bildt: that towards the end of February 2007 we had read this news item:

”Meanwhile, Carl Bildt has announced that he has sold the last of his shares in the controversial Lundin Oil company, which is accused of backing the regime in Sudan.”


Cynics have extended the kind of reasoning that Bodström is likely to come up with, to other areas of conflict. For instance we’ve all heard it said, time without number that the US invaded Iraq to take control of the flow of their vast oil deposits – and are doing the same with Afghanistan (good cover story) to eventually take control of their vast mineral deposits.


I am also a great admirer of Richard Holbrooke (and General Wesley Clark) and although Sweden seems to have wholly thrown in their lot with the US, at the same time many of us among the more tender-hearted, prefer Swedish involvement in Afghanistan with peace-keeping and reconstruction and in a less offensive capacity.

With regard to the dismissal of the US military commander in Afghanistan, one would have thought that his criticisms would have been more tolerable/ tolerated since he is a man of military experience and vision (about the future) speaking from the very difficult conditions in Afghanistan and not from the comfort of the Oval office – and therefore should be listened to, more attentively.

I do not know whether or not Mr. Bildt’s attitude to Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is in jeopardy, or what effect the disintegration of the Dutch Government - because of Afghanistan, has had on our most able Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs but there is no doubt that he is being faithful to The Alliance, which I would also like to survive the next elections despite Swedish participation in Afghanistan being a foreign policy issue in which the Government may have very different opinions from the opinions of the opposition parties.


It’s unclear, exactly what Mr.Bildt means by he “wouldn't bother too much". But there again thinking far beyond Swedish troop involvement much of my own layman orientation in some of these matters, derives from updates from sources such as




and from a more informed American point of view, most importantly:

03:03 June 25, 2010 by USA Is Number 1
Cornelius' posting above relies mostly upon the opinion pieces of a bunch of right-wing neo-con hacks who are best laughed at for following the talking points of the likes of Sarah Palin or her fans. Take his "information" with not just just a grain of salt, but a spoon of salt. After all, it's Faux News in redux.

Bildt is a self-promoting clown, and he's more clown-like than even most politicians at his level. If a Swedish general started getting put on public record as being disrespectful of Bildt or his boss, would Bildt and his boss support such insolence from a military officer who is supposed to take orders from the elected civilians?

A military officer needs to be kicked to the curb when such military officer fails to follow a lawful order or undermines the command structure or authority of his law-abiding commanding officer. It is necessary to preserve the command structure necessary to have effective military operations without being run by the military.
09:25 June 25, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
”USA is No1”

I don’t know whether you are a military man or not. I ain’t. – and that means that even with all the available information about the real situation, I’m in no position to evaluate the situation.

Take away the links that are subsidiary to my posting and apart from insulting Mr. Bildt, your opinion has not added significantly to what I said. Remember, Carl Bildt took over from David Owen in the Balkans. He is a seasoned diplomat and so is Richard Holbrooke (even if RH is not Carl Bildt’s best friend)


And if I were American, I would have voted for Wesley Clark for president:


There is Afghanistan and many other flashpoints at the hub of American foreign policy. One of these flashpoints, if not the very centre of that area is Israel – and most recently there’s been all that babble about Gaza - and today, even as we get ready to celebrate Midsummer, here’s the news , about that Lebanon Flotilla – and if that’s not premeditated naked provocation, then what is ?


In my opinion, Carl Bildt and the rest of the world should do something more substantial than just innocuous talk, in helping to solve the Gaza problem and one of the sticking issues is the fate of GILAD SHALIT. If you are not aware of it, please read this:


In my opinion, Bildt and others should press for Shalit’s freedom and to insist that no weapons or materials for weapons be allowed into Gaza to exacerbate an already dangerous situation. Once this is achieved – at that point the ball is in Israel’s court.
10:54 June 25, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Hello there No 2

“USA No.1”

says that “Cornelius' posting above relies mostly upon the opinion pieces of a bunch of right-wing neo-con hacks who are best laughed at for following the talking points of the likes of Sarah Palin or her fans.”

What gives “USA No.1” that impression?

Just for the record, I’m no neo-con or a fan of one or of Sarah Palin. My opinion is merely based on a reading and critical reaction to the Rolling Stone interview. I was educated to read and to think for myself - critically - and to analyse simple information. My common sense posting above neither relies on nor in any way reflects an opinion piece or opinion pieces of anybody.



Although Obama was very critical of Senator John McCain’s pronouncements on Afghanistan, Brother Obama seems to have super-seded his Republican rival - the surge etc.

Perhaps, before passing judgement you could try to know General McChrystal telepathically / clairvoyantly, or from the more reliable sources of information from which ordinary mortals get their information – and in your case preferably “with not just just a grain of salt, but a spoon of salt.” And why not with just a ton of salt?

11:50 June 25, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Hello there No.3

and a Glad Midsummer to you "USA is No.1"

Right now I'm reading through the usual spectrum of US opinion ( Thurdsay) , here


and here


and just for more balance,



and -absolutely crazy



"You got me flippin' like a flag on a pole

Come on sugar, let the good times roll"

"Here we go round the mulberry bush

The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush

Here we go round the mulberry bush

So early in the morning"

Wishing you a nice time dancing round the maypole
12:36 June 25, 2010 by USA Is Number 1

I am trying to help people realize something is strange when neo-con outfits are supporting Obama's issue with this general.

That this general was trying to ramp up the use of soft power (which is a financially expensive venture) and an advocate of ramping down on the use of some kind of hard power (and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles known as drones which are controlled often hundreds or thousands of miles away from the target) that upsets the government and people there was a problem the neo-cons had with this general.

Amongst a collection of others, the neo-cons have an interest (deny it as they may) in seeing conflict perpetuated; and they are (quietly at least) hoping for Obama to fail since they are seeking a more neo-con-friendly President in 2013.
15:49 June 25, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Haven't I already wished you a happy midsummer?

OK boss “USA is Number One”. I suppose that’s the name of your alter-ego?

I suppose that you are praying for USA to win the world cup?

I suppose that talking about distant things that we don’t know about makes some people feel Powerful

You remember this:



Please be patient: I don’t understand what you mean by,”neo-con outfits are supporting Obama's issue with this general.” All of them? Some of them supporting or lamenting the General’s dismissal? Could you please explain?

During the cold war days Novosti Press used to put out a lot of propaganda about “the Military-industrial complex.” Aren’t they the guys who bankrolled Obama’s campaign?

It’s a composite picture - that part of the world and it’s not as if Afghanistan is totally separated from Pakistan, Iraq and Iran-Lebanon-Syria and the general Islamic issues that link them. Not that the mighty USA can afford to be everywhere at the same time – even if their nuclear tipped submarines control all the oceans and the seas, right now it looks like Iran is getting the upper hand and giving the USA a diplomatic run around until the Mullahs raise their hands and say “ Yes, we can!” ?

But neo-cons or nuts, if Nobel Peace Prize Winner Obama wants a second term and still has the audacity of hope then he will have to deal with Iran or kiss the oval office goodbye. What do you have to say to that - or would you like to see Iran the most Uncontainable/uncontrollable New jihad kid on the block with nuclear bombs on his hands, terrorising USA No.1's interests all over the place?


BTW after the next mega-terrorist attack in the USA Commander-in-Chief Obama will have no choice but to wake up...
19:53 June 25, 2010 by USA Is Number 1

Wake up Obama and the US to what? To engender more hatred?

Why do you hate America so much that you are you counting on a mega-terrorist attack to "wake up" the US? Or is it that you hate Obama so much that you are wishing bad things for America just to get in a neo-con favorite to replace him as POTUS?

Iran is not an existential threat to the US. Even nuclear armed North Korea didn't change the game for your preferred George W Bush.
09:36 June 26, 2010 by cogito
@ Rebel: "Obama is a psychopath at worst, or a chronic narcissist at best."

At the very least, he is certainly extremely thin-skinned.

He gave Petraeus an impossible mission in order to neutralize him. Petraeus is favored as the winner if he should choose to run agains O in 2012.

O just playing politics as usual.
11:46 June 26, 2010 by USA Is Number 1

You miss the boat with your attempted criticism of Obama.

Obama is getting repeatedly criticized for not getting extremely mad to show it publicly, yet you claim he is extremely thin-skinned.

If anything, Obama is too cool to give you the drama you desire.

It's ironic that you complain about Obama giving Petraeus responsibility for Afghanistan when what you say could have been said about Bush giving him responsibility for Iraq.

About Petraeus running for public office and being able to win the Democratic or Republican primaries and then going on to beat Obama, that's a pipe dream.

If any one is playing politics as usual, that too of the dirty, cheap variety, it is to be found in your posts above that criticize the targets of your hatred with everything and nothing.
17:04 June 26, 2010 by JoeSwede
Too bad that Rolling Stone published the article that they did.

Obama should have accepted the general's apology. Hopefully more of a check and balance will emerge during the next election.
18:51 June 26, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
American as applepie,

America is numero uno

Nuclear King of the jungle

I'll get back to you know, soon oh

But in tha meantime, may I please invite yu to chew

on this:

20:29 June 26, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
You are invited to take a dip into Marcus Garvey’s The Tragedy of White Injustice (nothing to do with the subject at hand)


Here’s my partial reply to “USA is number 1” to be amended after the match which starts in two minutes time…

20:03 June 27, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
We have strayed a little from the baseline of the topic but must now get back to it, to some pungent criticism of Barack O and this time the shots are not coming from a neo-con:

08:04 July 6, 2010 by Makaveli
@Roy E. If u knew anything at all about the military, then u'd know better than make such an uninformed comment. The men in uniform receive orders from their superiors and execute them without voicing their own personal opinion. Thats the very basic and fundamental principle upon which every successful military operates.

McChrystal went out of his own way to air his views like that, and perhaps he should be a politician instead if he has that much to say. Strip him i say. Obama did the right thing. insurbordination cannot be tolerated (especially not from the so-call commander in chief)
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