Top US general facing the sack after mocking Obama
Published 23/06/2010 | 05:00
General Stanley McChrystal was facing the sack last night after he was summoned to the White House to explain derisive comments he made about President Barack Obama and the US administration.
The US commander in Afghanistan was ordered to fly back from Kabul for a carpeting after he and his aides were quoted in a 'Rolling Stone' article mocking the president and senior officials.
Although the worst barbs came from aides, they indicated that the general had little respect for Mr Obama. One was quoted as saying Mr Obama appeared "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the military and "didn't seem very engaged" when he first met General McChrystal.
There was also criticism of vice-president Joe Biden, the US ambassador to Kabul Karl Eikenberry, the national security adviser James Jones, and Richard Holbrooke, the special US envoy to Afghanistan.
Robert Gibbs, Mr Obama's spokesman, struggled to control his fury as he described Mr Obama as "angry". Mr Gibbs said pointedly that "all options are on the table" when he was asked if General McChrystal might be sacked.
The profile, by the freelance journalist Michael Hastings, suggests General McChrystal and Mr Obama did not get on from the start. An aide describes "a 10-minute photo-op" with the president at one of their first meetings. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. The boss was pretty disappointed."
General McChrystal told the magazine he felt "betrayed" by Mr Eikenberry, a former three-star general, in a White House debate over war strategy last year. He said: "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now, if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so'."
Referring to Mr Holbrooke, a McChrystal aide is quoted as saying: "The boss says he's like a wounded animal. Holbrooke keeps hearing rumours that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous."
He also appeared to mock Mr Biden, known to be a sceptic of the McChrystal war strategy, imagining ways of "dismissing the vice-president with a good one-liner".
General McChrystal issued a full apology yesterday and the special assistant who organised the interview resigned. (© Daily Telegraph, London)