ALL RIGHT, LISTEN UP, MAGGOTS. IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL. HE GOT FIRED! FIRED! YOU HEAR ME, YOU LITTLE WUSSES?
All right. Yes. You hear me. PROBABLY. Now, it’s time to disassemble and re-assemble the implications of this incident re: performative gender! While blindfolded! And not an expert on military policy and culture in any way! In the pages of the UK Guardian!*
McChrystal, Hastings makes clear, fashioned himself a “bad-ass” early on in life. At the military academy he attended, he cultivated the art of insubordination, and was rewarded for it: when he got 100 hours of demerits, his classmates applauded him as a “century man”. In the Bush administration, his willingness to go rogue in the name of accomplishing his objectives, and his commitment to ignoring niceties like the chain of command, the truth (he was accused of involvement in the cover-up of a friendly fire incident) or the rules of engagement (he was connected to a prisoner-abuse scandal) were likewise rewarded. He was not disciplined; he was given Afghanistan. And when he had Afghanistan, and found that the new president didn’t agree unreservedly with his ideas about what to do there, well: it was time to be insubordinate again.
And there’s more! About nunchucks! SO GO READ IT, MAGGOTS. But not before you read this, with Sergeant Amanda Hess of The Sexist. READ READ READ. GIVE ME TWENTY (MINUTES OF READING). ETCETERA.
AMANDA: Why hello!
SADY: Are you wondering, perchance, how you got screwed into this chat? The answer is that it is scheduled! It comes with the position! Feel free to wave a middle finger and utter a popular middle-school joke in my direction!
AMANDA: That’s gay! Or something!
SADY: Dear Lord. This McChrystal profile: I cannot get over it! Like, four pages in, it starts becoming more generous. Which is kind of startling, because on page one it kind of presents McChrystal as this overgrown eighteen-year-old drinking Bud Light Lime and playing World of (Actual) Warcraft (In Which People Die) with his buddies. Bud Light Lime. BUD LIGHT LIME! The reputation-killer!
AMANDA: Right. And also strangely (and earnestly?) appropriating light satirical commentaries on American patriotism, like Team America and Talladega Nights. Maybe he drinks Bud Light Lime and attends Irish bars in Paris ironically? I can’t tell.
SADY: I just don’t know. But it seems to me that this whole article is profiling McChrystal as like this sad doomed exemplar of a certain kind of machismo. The kind that doesn’t overthink, doesn’t do things that are “fucking gay” like attend restaurants with candles or drink wine or respect the President, and is dead set on getting its way no matter what the consequences of getting your way when you’re resolutely opposed to thinking about stuff or opening your mind at all might actually be. Like, he’s this lone soldier who’s gonna make everyone see it his way and share his favorite Bruce Lee quotes with everybody and get called a “Jedi” (!!) and it does… not work out well. At all.
AMANDA: The lack of self-awareness is the main thing. I’m amazed that no one had their guard up around Hastings—or better, that this is what they look like with their guard up. I mean, looking at the hilarious photographs accompanying the story of Hastings in hipster jacket and beard and sunglasses hanging out with all these dudes in uniform, you have to wonder what they were thinking.
SADY: Right. Like, that’s what’s kind of alarming. That not only are they being frat-house homophobic and hostile to diplomacy — although part of their job is supposedly understanding this culture that they’re trying to singlehandedly break down and reconstruct — but that they’re being quoted as talking smack about everybody in the administration. They’re all identified mostly by their positions, not names, but does being anonymous really help with the impression that this entire operation is just Out Of Control?
AMANDA: And insulting the administration in the laziest way possible. Biden? More like Bite Me! France: Gay! Beer: Good! Us: America! THAT BEING SAID. I have employed the middle finger in a professional capacity more than once. I’m not saying I should be appointed Overlord of Afghanistan or anything, but the juvenile culture didn’t come as much of a shock to me.
SADY: Yeah. I mean, the sort of cult of macho in the military has been pointed out or critiqued by a lot of people more skilled and nuanced than I. The whole thing, though, about this very specific, juvenile, macho thing is that it prizes the Rugged Individualist who Gets His no matter what and Shows ‘Em All… that’s also apparently been the downfall of McChrystal, as a dude. Much as I enjoyed the flashbacks to his early days of “rat fucking” (stripping dudes and covering them with shaving cream? Or something?) and taking his wife to Jack in the Box in formal-wear for their erotic date liaisons, it’s easy to see that this military culture sort of made him the man he is, and positioned that man for a fall in some very big ways.
AMANDA: Rat-fucking has predicted many a man’s downfall.
SADY: Indeed! Rarely has the phrase “enjoys a spirited round of rat fucking” been attached to the resume of a stellar man! Although “he carries a custom-made set of nunchucks in his convoy” is slightly more promising. A custom! Made! Set! Of nunchucks!
AMANDA: When mass-produced nunchucks just won’t do.
SADY: Also, this quote, which I just love so much: “The fucking lads love Stan McChrystal,” says a British officer who serves in Kabul. ‘You’d be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like ‘Who the fuck is that?’ And it’s fucking Stan McChrystal.” That fucking quote, man. I’m like, what the fuck is up with that quote? And it’s a quote by a British fucking officer, is what it is. And he’s fucking like, “let’s use the fuck word some more, mate! Pip fucking pip! Fucking cheerio!”
AMANDA: And it’s essentially about how McChrystal is like fucking God of Iraq. Which, you know: That guy who thinks he can do anything he wants with an entire region without either respecting the opinions of his superiors or appearing to take any actual interest in understanding how that region works and what it needs (Bud Lite Lime) — he’s gone now, but how did he get this far?
SADY: Yeah. And that’s the thing: He participated in cover-ups, he found himself in the middle of scandals, but he endeared himself to the previous administration by embodying the sort of soldier they wanted — one who would do what “had to be done,” whether or not it was, like, actually permissible. And now he’s carrying that same mind-set forward. It’s hubris, I think. At some point, in some administration, Stan McChrystal’s sense of entitlement or potential was probably proportionate to his actual mandate or talents. Now, at this point in his life, that seems to be clearly not the case. But what kills me is the part where Dude tries to adopt a more nuanced way of moving forward, and the troops aren’t buying it, and it looks like the plan once advanced by… Joe Biden. BITE ME BIDEN. HE’S BECOME THE THING HE HATED. WHICH IS APPARENTLY THE VICE-PRESIDENT.
AMANDA: Except only one of these men is not unlike an older version of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn! This makes his military strategy instantly more relevant.
SADY: True. Indeed, comparisons to Christian Bale always inspire me with trust in the professionalism and stability of the man being compared. Maybe he actually IS Christian Bale. In his most method role yet!
AMANDA: Where does a hotshot uber-American Bud-Light-Drinking Frenchman-hating black ops military genius go from here?
SADY: I’d kind of like to see him host a cooking show? Or — better! — a new and improved Loveline. “DID YOU TRY TAKING HER TO JACK-IN-THE-BOX? THAT’S YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM RIGHT THERE, PUSSY.” These are flippant answers, but I honestly don’t know. Dude’s been disgraced. I somehow don’t see him comfortably taking on consultancy roles. Although Lord knows he just may.
AMANDA: I SEE MY WIFE 30 DAYS A YEAR. YES I’M RETIRED NOW BUT THIS IS THE OPTIMAL RATIO OF DAYS TO SEE YOUR WIFE FOR MAINTENANCE OF A ROGUE MASCULINE PERSONA. OK, so I just think he’s just going to type in all caps all the time, on the Internet. Maybe he could write for Tiger Beatdown? I’d like to see him attempt feminist blog comment moderation.
SADY: Ah, the true insurgency! WE’VE GOT TO UNDERSTAND THEIR CULTURE. SOMEBODY GET ON 4-CHAN, NOW NOW NOW! SEND IN THE CHOPPER, AN AYN RAND SITE LINKED US! ARRRRGH!
AMANDA: I mean at the very least he could point us to his custom nunchuck tailor. I’ve been looking for an upgrade. Also, I’m tired of taking the effort to actually insert fruit into my beer. Surely there’s an easier way!
SADY: Have you considered — PRE-FRUITENING? The fruit invades the beer, then assimilates into it! It re-structures the beer to better fit its own juicy flavor! Maybe he could just think of new things to flavor with limes, disgustingly. That’s an ongoing market.
AMANDA: Nevermind, it sounds French.
*Hey, here’s something fun: I am actually going to show up in the non-metaphorical pages of the print edition of the UK Guardian this weekend! With a slightly different version of this very article! So, if you live in the UK, you can buy a paper, and I will be in it. Which, assuming that you like the look of my name in print as much as I do (IT IS A LOT) should be fun for you. Look at me, I’m jealous already!