Michael Hastings on the Afghanistan war
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Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "The media are central to all our lives," he says. "Yet the media are the most frequently misunderstood parts of our lives. We want to help people understand the role of media in society."
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Sunday, March 04, 2012
Journalist Michael Hastings discusses his new book on the Afghanistan War.
General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative, forward-thinking commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. He was better known to some as Big Stan, M4, Stan, and his loyal staff liked to call him a "rock star." During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to garner additional allied help for the war effort, McChrystal was accompanied by journalist Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone. For days, Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration for what they saw as a lack of leadership. When Hastings's piece, The Runaway General, appeared a few months later, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was ordered to Washington, where he was fired unceremoniously.
In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. He gives us a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and often bitter bureaucratic infighting. Hastings takes us on patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands, to late-night bull sessions of senior military advisors, to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building gone awry. And as he weighs the merits and failings of old-school generals and the so-called COINdinistas—the counterinsurgency experts—Hastings draws back the curtain on a hellish complexity and, he fears, an unwinnable war.
Michael Hastings is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. He regularly covers politics and international affairs for the magazine, including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In 2011, he received the George Polk Award in journalism for his Rolling Stone story "The Runaway General." His work has appeared in Newsweek, GQ, Men's Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Salon, Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, and The Huffington Post. In 2010, Hastings was named one of The Huffington Post's Game Changers of the year. His GQ story "Obama's War" was selected for Best American Political Writing 2009. The author also of I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, Hastings lives in Vermont.
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