Washington In a new magazine profile, the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, and his advisers appear to ridicule Vice President Joe Biden and are portrayed as dismissive of civilian oversight of the war.
The article, in Rolling Stone, says McChrystal’s staff frequently derided top civilian leaders, including special envoy Richard C. Holbrooke and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry. One anonymous aide calls White House national security adviser James Jones a “clown.”
The detailed report on the top command in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate tensions with the White House, which in the past has felt boxed in by military commanders anxious to get more troops for the war effort.
The article says that only Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received good reviews from McChrystal’s inner circle.
McChrystal is reported as visibly exasperated by e-mails he receives from Holbrooke, appointed by Obama to oversee developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,” the article quotes McChrystal as saying after receiving one message.
McChrystal criticizes Eikenberry for writing a classified cable that critiqued the war strategy and was later leaked, saying he felt “betrayed” by the episode and that Eikenberry was trying to protect himself.
The article’s author, Michael Hastings, says that McChrystal and his staff, while preparing for a question-and-answer session in Paris, imagined ways of “dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.”
“Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says, according to the article, trying out a possible answer. “Who’s that?”
McChrystal gave a speech last summer, just as a White House strategy review was beginning, in which he appeared to criticize Biden’s argument in favor of fewer troops.
President Barack Obama later dressed down McChrystal for his comments and for the implied criticism of Biden. The Rolling Stone report does not specify whether McChrystal is again criticizing Biden or possibly poking fun at his own difficulties last year.
Late Monday, McChrystal issued an apology for the Rolling Stone article. “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” he said in a statement.