Published June 25, 2010
I had dinner last night with someone who is "connected," as they say in Washington. I was told that General McChrystal had confided several months before that he was tired and perhaps ready to retire. I have no idea if what I was told was the truth, but having spent years working in mental health, I can vouch for the power of the unconscious.
The unconscious mind can do what the conscious mind cannot. It can act as a signal or even a sentry. The Helen Thomas incident two weeks ago is a great example. How do you retire when you are the "dean" of the White House press corps? How can you say to the secretary of defense, "I want out," "I am tired" or "I don't believe in the mission"? You don't.
There are only two possible explanations for General McChrystal's behavior. Either he wanted to set the record as he saw it and did not care anymore (he wanted out), or he was bone tired and wasn't watching what he was saying and who he was saying it to (he wanted out). You don't get to that rank in the military and not know what you are doing. You don't get to that rank in the armed services and not watch every word you say and not know about every press contact that you talk to. You save your thoughts for your post-retirement memoir.
McChrystal would have had to be brain dead not to know what Rolling Stone is about. Sure, Rolling Stone's demographic is important to military recruiters, but to give a writer from Rolling Stone that kind of access is highly unusual.
A third possibility is that General McChrystal was more strategic than we give him credit for and wanted to open a discussion on the merits of the Afghanistan war, or his unconscious was directing his behavior. I vote for the unconscious.
Fox Forum is on twitter @ FXNopinion