Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal: Afghanistan War was a 'failure'
Retired General Stanley McChrystal, who led coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, described the war in Afghanistan as a "failure" in a new interview with Yahoo Finance.
McChrystal, however, rejected criticism that the war had been an impossible task from the start. Instead, strategic mishaps prevented the US from achieving its twin goals of creating security and promoting effective government, McChrystal said.
"I think it was a failure because obviously things weren't going the way we wanted them to," he says. “At the same time, I'd say Afghanistan changed a lot from 2001 to 2021, so I think those who served there - neither military nor civilians or media - should take something other than a sense of pride.
"But because it didn't go the way we wanted, we have to think twice," adds McChrystal, who recently co-authored a book called Risk: A User's Guide. "We have to learn from it."
The remarks come when Afghanistan is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, faced with a change of government and the loss of foreign donors. An emergency summit of the 20-person group on Tuesday brought an aid package worth 1.15 billion US dollars from the European Union.
McChrystal joins other former senior US military officials who recently recognized the US defeat in Afghanistan. Karl Eikenberry, Afghanistan commander from 2005 to 2007, told CNN last month that the results achieved in Afghanistan "were not worth the cost."
The US ended the 20 Years War in August after a chaotic evacuation of US forces and allies marked by a terrorist attack that killed 13 soldiers and nearly 200 Afghan civilians. A total of 2,448 U.S. service members, 66,000 Afghan military and police officers, and 47,245 Afghan civilians died during the conflict, Associate Press reported.
In an August address, President Joe Biden described the evacuation from Kabul as an "extraordinary success" and defended his decision to end the war as a milestone in the nation's departure from military efforts to "recreate other countries."
After boarding a transport plane, US soldiers sit in the US transit center at Manas Airport near Bishkek, March 27, 2012. REUTERS / Vladimir Pirogov
McChrystal, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1976, completed a 34-year military career that included a stint as commander of U.S. special forces and eventually a two-year tenure as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, which ended in 2010.
Then-President Barack Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation days after a Rolling Stone article criticizing McChrystal and his staff criticizing senior administrative officials.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, McChrystal dismissed criticism of the Afghan war as doomed to failure. But he recognized the challenge of building security and a democratic government in the distant land.
"I think the mission was doable," he says. "There is a certain narrative that people say it was impossible, it was a graveyard of empires. I disagree with that."
"We tried to create security, but we also tried to improve governance and it was really difficult," he says. "There is no way around that."
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