P.J. O’Rourke interview with The Daily Caller

I gotta say that I find the joking and textual horsing around in this interview to be a bit annoying.  But I found O’Rourke‘s take interesting.  As decidely right-of-center types go, he’s one of the few I think I could stand to consult regularly for the sake of hearing a different opinion.

On O’Rourke’s take of the Michael Hastings piece on Gen. McChrystal, I have to say that I agree with him that what the media played up as insubordination was little more than standard-grade military bitching.  Everybody does it, almost all the time.  As long as it’s not directed at a superior in person, it’s pretty much taken for granted.

I don’t, however, think that Hastings’ perspective was one of “obvious and odious malice,” as O’Rourke does.  In the first place, I believe that people are responsible for any true fact written about them.  If you do something wrong and a reporter writes about it, that’s your fault, not his.  Second, I think Hastings’ perspective was closer to one of admiration in some ways.  Witness this excerpt that picks up after McChrystal receives an email from an Army platoon leader in Afghanistan who was concerned that McChrystal didn’t care about the friendly casualties that could’ve been avoided if not for his restrictive Rules of Engagement (ROEs):

Within hours, McChrystal responded personally: “I’m saddened by the accusation that I don’t care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally – at least I do. But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier’s view is his own.” Then he showed up at Arroyo’s outpost and went on a foot patrol with the troops – not some bullshit photo-op stroll through a market, but a real live operation in a dangerous war zone.

The “bullshit photo-op stroll through a market” quip was a shot across the bow of every US politician to visit Iraq or Afghanistan, get his picture taken walking down a city street while hundreds of soldiers or Marines stand guard just outside the frame, then come home and proclaim to his constituents that the strategy of the day is a Great Success.

I give Hastings the benefit of the doubt–He was probably torn about some of the direct quotes that he probably suspected would lead to trouble for McChrystal, but his journalistic integrity required him to present the situation as it is.  Lives are on the line in this war, and not just American ones.

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