General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative, forward-thinking commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. He was better known to some as Big Stan, M4, Stan, and his loyal staff liked to call him a "rock star." During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to... read more
General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative, forward-thinking commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. He was better known to some as Big Stan, M4, Stan, and his loyal staff liked to call him a "rock star." During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative, forward-thinking commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. He was better known to some as Big Stan, M4, Stan, and his loyal staff liked to call him a "rock star." During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to garner additional allied help for the war effort, McChrystal was accompanied by journalist Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone. For days, Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration for what they saw as a lack of leadership. When Hastings's piece appeared a few months later, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was ordered to Washington, where he was fired unceremoniously.
In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. He gives us a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and often bitter bureaucratic infighting. Hastings takes us on patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands, to late-night bull sessions of senior military advisors, to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building gone awry. And as he weighs the merits and failings of old-school generals and the so-called COINdinistas—the counterinsurgency experts—Hastings draws back the curtain on a hellish complexity and, he fears, an unwinnable war.
“In February, Gates makes one of his final trips to West Point. He is speaking to an audience of cadets, many who will be deploying to finish off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates the Sovietologist spent days and nights in the seventies and eighties analyzing the Soviet leaders' speeches, looking for clues, for signs--to divine the true mind-set of the leadership by reading between the lines. And what does Gates say in this speech? Gates, the man who has designed and overseen the last four years of the military fighting machine, the man who calls himself Secretary of War? "Any future secretary of defense who advises the president to again send a big American land army into the Middle East or Africa," he tells the cadets, "should have their head examined."”
PART I. THE PLAN
1. Delta Bravo
2. It's Not Switzerland
3. Lady Gaga
4. "Intimidated by the Crowd"
5. Arc de Triomphe
6. "A Violent Act"
7. On the X
8. The A-Team
9. "Bite Me"
10. The Photo Op
11. Totally Shit-Faced
12. "Dead Silence"
13. The Horror, the Horror
14. We're Actually Losing
15. Petraeus Can't Do Afghanistan, and We Aren't Going to Get Bin Laden
16. The Elections, Part I
17. Texts to Berlin
18. The Elections, Part II
19. Team America Rolls the Ritz
20. On Principle
21. Spies Like Us
22. "I'm the President. I Don't Give a Shit What They Say"
23. The Strategy
24. "Let Me Be Clear"
25. Worshipping the Gods of Beer
26. Who Is Stanley McChrystal? Part I, 1954-1976
27. "The Jerk in Green"
28. Who Is Stanley McChrystal? Part II, 1976-Present Day
29. Reality Checks In
PART II. INTERLUDE: DUBAI
PART III. AFGHANISTAN
30. A Short History of a Horrible Idea
31. Bad Romance
32. President Karzai Has a Cold
33. An E-mail Exchange: Come Walk in Our Boots
34. A Boy Born in 1987
35. Where Is Israel Arroyo?
36. Ingram's House
37. An Army of None
38. In the Arena
39. "I Didn't Even Know We Were Fighting There"
40. The Concluding Coversations with Duncan Boothby, General Petraeus Face-Plants in Congress, and the Story Breaks While I Watch American Helicopter Pilots Kill Insurgents
PART IV. THE GRACEFUL EXIT
41. "Very, Very Bad"
42. The Pentagon Investigates McChrystal
43. The Media-Military-Industrial Complex
44. I'd Rather Be Eating a Burger
45. Once Upon a Time in Kandahar
46. King David's War
47. "Tourism, Not Terrorism"
48. Petraeus Does Body Counts
49. The New Afghanistan
50. Joe Biden Is Right
Epilogue: Someday, This War's Gonna End
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