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McChrystal Rolling Stone remarks spotlight Afghanistan withdrawal timeline

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In the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal manages to be insulting toward the French, simultaneously crude and dismissive of the opinions of Vice President Joe Biden, and appears to have encouraged a general locker-room atmosphere around his staff.

Of Mr. Eikenberry, who in a leaked memo last year argued against the troop surge that McChrystal was pushing hard for, he said: “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’ ”

Awareness time is not on his side

Military analysts say McChrystal’s testiness shows he knows that time is not on his side. Allies in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is the umbrella for the war effort, have been growing restless.

Earlier this week, Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British special envoy to Afghanistan and a former ambassador here, stepped down from his job. He had questioned the wisdom of the troop surge and counterinsurgency here, worried it would only lead to a bloody and expensive quagmire, and favored negotiations with the Taliban.

Marjah offensive

A much-vaunted offensive around the southern town of Marjah last month, which was billed as the first major test of a counterinsurgency strategy that involves clearing out insurgents from an area and then quickly building a functional government to deliver services to local residents, has not delivered.

Ahead of the operation, McChrystal predicted success and said he had a “government in a box” ready to be put in place. More recently, he said the area is like a “bleeding ulcer.” An offensive originally scheduled for this month in Kandahar, the city where the Taliban first came to prominence, is currently delayed.

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