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4-Star General Lets Lose During Interview On ‘Immoral’ Trump: I Would Never Work For You

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Happy New Year, folks! Heading into 2019, I am very sorry to have to remind you of the fact that Donald Trump is still President of the United States. He continues to wreak havoc with the very basis of our constitutional democracy, savaging fundamental freedoms and fuelling hatred with shocking enthusiasm.

His New Year, though, didn’t get off to the greatest start. I imagine he was not best pleased – to say the least – when he heard that a retired 4-star general named Stanley A. McChrystal had gone onto the This Week programme on ABC News to give an interview in which he ruthlessly laid into the President, taking no prisoners as he comprehensively dismanted his presidency and explained in merciless detail why that man is so unsuitable for the great office he holds.

RADDATZ: You saw President Trump there this week talking to troops, not only in Iraq, but in — in Germany. And the speech clearly took a political turn. He was talking about the border wall, he was disparaging Democrats. What did you think when you saw that?

GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL (RET.), FORMER COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE: When leaders visit soldiers, young women and men out in potentially harm’s way, there’s a sacred interaction that occurs.

You have to provide for them leadership. You’re showing that you are there. You’re also listening to their problems. You don’t use that as a time to tout your politics or your personal opinions.

You use it as a time to reassure them that what they are doing is appreciated by people. So, I think it’s very important that we understand the role and a responsibility that leaders have, which is — sometimes transcends what we want to do in the moment.

RADDATZ: And you also saw some of those troops coming forward with red “Make America Great” hats.

MCCHRYSTAL: Sure.

RADDATZ: The military rules prohibit active-duty personnel from engaging in partisan political activities and prohibit military personnel from showing any political leanings while in uniform.

Did they violate that?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I think they violated the spirit of it.

And I think it’s unfortunate, because, if the U.S. military becomes politicized, it will be something we’re not happy with.

RADDATZ: As we talk here today, Syria’s military is poised to enter the Kurdish-held town of Manbij. What do you think is going to happen there without U.S. troops?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I think there’s every likelihood that the Kurds come up in a very difficult position.

We leveraged Kurdish military prowess and capabilities to help deal with ISIS. And I think we did that well. I also think we created a relationship and an expectation with them that was natural. They thought that we would help protect them.

I think now there’s every likelihood that Bashar al-Assad’s forces will do whatever damage they can to the Kurds to try to remind the Kurds that they are in an area in which they are very, very vulnerable.

RADDATZ: Outside of the Kurds, what difference does it make, does it really make, if those 2,000 U.S. forces leave?

MCCHRYSTAL: Yeah.

You never know until we see how things play out. My sense is that we have a tumultuous regime — or region now that has a Russian presence, which had been out for about 30 years after the 1973 war, and now Russia’s back, and they’re back in an influential way.

Iran has increased influence across the region now. If you pull American influence out, you’re likely to have greater instability. And, of course, it will be much more difficult for the United States to try to push events in any direction.

There is an argument that says we just pull up our stuff, go home, let the region run itself. That has not done well for the last 50 or 60 years.

RADDATZ: And I take it you don’t believe ISIS is defeated?

MCCHRYSTAL: I don’t believe ISIS is defeated. I think ISIS is as much an idea as it is a number of ISIS fighters.

There’s a lot of intelligence that says there are actually more ISIS fighters around the world now than there were a couple of years ago. Doesn’t mean we didn’t do well against ISIS in Iraq and in much of Syria.

But ISIS is an idea. And as long as the fertile ground exists, the causes that cause people to flock to a movement as extreme as ISIS exist, you’re going to have it flare back up again.

RADDATZ: In Afghanistan, the president has ordered them to start looking at drawing down half of those troops there. Do you see that as a problem?

MCCHRYSTAL: I think the great mistake in the president’s leaked guidance is that, just when we were starting to sit down with the Taliban, just when we were starting to begin negotiations, he basically traded away the biggest leverage point we have.

If you tell the Taliban that we are absolutely leaving on date certain, cutting down, weakening ourselves, their incentives to try to cut a deal drop dramatically.

And, of course, I was worried about the confidence of the Afghan people, because, at the end of the day, that’s what determines who wins in Afghanistan. And I think we probably rocked them. We rocked them and their belief that we are allies that can be counted on.

RADDATZ: But, at the same time, this is what President Trump campaigned on. They had to have a pretty good idea he wanted to get out of there.

MCCHRYSTAL: Yes, I think so. There’s — it’s not a — it’s not a big surprise.

And I think the first thing we have to do is navigate from where we are, not from where we wish we were.

RADDATZ: Jim Mattis’ last day as defense secretary is this Monday. You saw his very public rebuke of President Trump.

What do you think Americans should make of a resignation of someone like Jim Mattis?

MCCHRYSTAL: I would guess that Secretary Mattis took a long time agonizing over writing a letter that was as direct about his feelings as that particular letter was.

He knew it would be very public and it would make a very strong statement that was much broader than the Syria issue. It was about America’s role in the world.

I personally think it was valuable. I think maybe it causes the American people to take pause and say, wait a minute, if we have someone who is as selfless and as committed as Jim Mattis resigns his position, walking away from all the responsibility he feels for every service member in our forces, and he does so in a public way like that, we ought to stop and say, OK, why did he do it?

We ought to ask what kind of commander in chief he had that Jim Mattis that, you know, the good Marine, felt he had to walk away.

RADDATZ: So, if someone was asked to be secretary of defense right now who you knew, what would you say to that person?

MCCHRYSTAL: I would ask them to look in the mirror and ask them if they can get comfortable enough with President Trump’s approach to governance, how he conducts himself, with his values and with his world view, to be truly loyal to him as a commander in chief and going forward.

And we’re all instinctively loyal. But the reality is, if there’s too much of a disconnect, then I would tell him, I think it’s — it would be a bad foundation upon which to try to build a successful partnership with that job.

RADDATZ: If you were asked to join the Trump administration, what would you say?

MCCHRYSTAL: I would say no.

I think it’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it.

RADDATZ: You think he’s a liar?

MCCHRYSTAL: I don’t think he tells the truth.

RADDATZ: Is Trump immoral, in your view?

MCCHRYSTAL: I think he is.

RADDATZ: What would you say to those Americans, then — and there are a lot of them — who support Donald Trump, who say, I like what he’s doing, he’s shaking things up, I don’t care about this other stuff?

MCCHRYSTAL: Yeah, I would say everyone has to make their own judgment. I can’t tell any supporter of one politician or another that they are wrong.

But what I would ask every American to do is, again, stand in front of that mirror and say, what are we about? Am I really willing to throw away or ignore some of the things that people do that are — are pretty unacceptable, normally, just because they accomplish certain other things that we might like?

If we want to be governed by someone we wouldn’t do a business deal with because their — their background is so shady, if we’re willing to do that, then that’s in conflict with who I think we are. And so I think it’s necessary at those times to take a stand.

I find that truly inspiring, and I think we can all really learn something from Gen. McChrystal. We cannot just stand by and let these outrageous things happen. Speak up!


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