4-star general, fired as Afghan war commander in June, wants book to have ‘long-term value’
NEW YORK — Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the Afghanistan war commander forced out in June after making negative comments about Obama administration officials, is working on a memoir.
McChrystal will write about his recent controversy, but as part of a broader story about his career and changes in the country’s military since he was at West Point in the early 1970s, he said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“I like to be thought of as absolutely honest, but I am not seeking to write a combative work,” said McChrystal, 56, known for his blunt and uncompromising instincts. “I am trying to write a memoir and history that has real value. It’s not designed to be part of the daily news cycle. It’s designed to have long-term value.”
Much of McChrystal’s career was spent on the front lines in the war on terrorism, studying al-Qaida and orchestrating secret raids. In 2006, his operation was credited with nabbing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and one of the most-wanted fugitives there. His special operations forces that year were also accused by human rights activists of abusing detainees at Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport.
President Obama appointed McChrystal in June 2009 to lead the fight in Afghanistan but fired him a year later after a Rolling Stone magazine article featured unflattering remarks by McChrystal and his inner circle about political and diplomatic officials.
McChrystal, a four-star general, retired in July with full military honors.
Asked if he would express second thoughts in the book, McChrystal said that it was inevitable to wish some things “might have gone differently, but that he certainly didn’t “get up in the morning regretting things” he had done.
McChrystal said he had worked under “some extraordinary leaders,” civilian and military, and wanted to write about what he had learned. He cited the autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant as a model, praising Grant’s self-effacement and ability to capture a vital experience in a sentence or two.
McChrystal said he has started the book, currently untitled and scheduled for 2012, and that he would be assisted by a “couple of people who I am close to and trust,” although he declined to identify them. The book will be published by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).
“Amidst all the media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, few people know who Gen. Stan McChrystal really is and what he has accomplished,” Portfolio publisher and president Adrian Zackheim said in a statement. “Nor do people realize what a fascinating career he had for 38 years in the Army and what he can teach all of us about effective leadership under extreme pressure.”
McChrystal was represented by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose clients include Obama and former President George W. Bush. Financial terms were not disclosed, but McChrystal said part of the proceeds would be donated to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a nonprofit organization for injured service members and their families. McChrystal and his wife, Annie, are members of the fund’s board of directors.