Gen. Stanley McChrystal knows a thing or two about leadership and how sending the wrong messages can have serious repercussions.
After spending more than 30 years in the U.S. military, where he oversaw countless combat operations, the four-star general resigned as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan during Obama administration amid political fallout over a Rolling Stone article.
The magazine brags that its piece claiming McChrystal criticized then-Vice President Joe Biden, who had endorsed McChrystal a decade later brought him down.
McChrystal told FOX Business that the transition from a lifetime of being a soldier to immediately becoming a civilian was stunning. But he is now able to spend time with his wife, son and three granddaughters after being away from them for six years in war zones.
The General didn't want to be just another last-former of top brass selling defense stuff to the military after his retirement. Besides sitting on boards of several businesses, he started a consulting firm, McChrystal Group, that focused on executive development for organizations and is thriving by all indications.
He has also written a new book, Risk: A User's Guide, co-written by McChrystal Group associate Anna Butrico. In it, he talks business and war and tells a lot of stories. He also gives his take on some challenges facing the U.S. today.
Both al Qaeda across the globe and Taliban in Afghanistan have gone to school on the American experience, he writes. Each seeks to communicate that the risks of continuating active threatening them in battlefields in the region aren t worth the sacrifice. When asked about how he sees the Taliban now that it has overtaken Afghanistan, McChrystal told FOX Business he doesn't see them as an international threat, explaining, Unless we're willing to go in there, I think our interaction with the Taliban will be limited. McChrystal doesn't imagine US backing off with Taliban, for the record, but says that the damage has been done as far as how America left and left Pakistan after 20 years.
The message taken from everyone involved in Afghanistan not only the Taliban, is that the West got beaten again, McChrystal says. He called the optics at Bagram Air Base when the U.S. pulled out a little jarring. While the U.S. military equipment left behind that landed in the hands of the Taliban isn't strategic relevant, it's a real humiliation to have stuff claimed by the enemy apparently so easily, he says
It's possible Al Qaeda or ISIS or both could establish the equivalent of sanctuary in Afghanistan, the general says. He continues, I don't lose sleep over it because the reality is they could go almost anywhere in the troubled parts of the world so I don't think that will present a uniquely threat to the United States and produce another 911. What McChrystal does warn of is the polarization happening in American society today, which he sees as a very real threat that mainstream media is feeding.
Adolph Hitler said if you say the same message enough, at a certain point it resonates and people at least a good percentage of people start to believe it, the general said. And our mainstream media will argue, We are just conservative( or We re liberal and We re necessary to balance the other side. What it is going to do is influence a part of our population, which is not insignificant.
What are some alarmist ideas that stop a society from fragmenting? McChrystal asked rhetorically. It could never happen here again, and unlike 1860 there's not this overriding economic issue of slavery but now we have this tribalism that I would argue may be as strong as it was back then.
he reasoned, adding, "I don't think it's at all impossible that we would start to hear that."