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Top US general attacks Obama

world Updated: Jun 23, 2010 01:42 IST

The top US general in Afghanistan was summoned to Washington for a White House meeting after apologising on Tuesday for flippant and dismissive remarks about top Obama administration officials involved in Afghanistan policy.

The profile of McChrystal, titled the “Runaway General,” also raises fresh questions about the judgement and leadership style of the commander Barack Obama appointed last year in an effort to turn around a worsening conflict.

McChrystal and some of his senior advisors are quoted criticising top administration officials, at times in starkly derisive terms.

US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, a retired three-star general, isn’t spared. Referring to a leaked cable from Eikenberry that expressed concerns about the trustworthiness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, McChrystal is quoted as having said: “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’”

Lt. Col. Joseph Breasseale, a US military spokesman, said McChrystal called Biden and other senior administration officials on Tuesday in reference to the article. “After these discussions, he decided to travel to the US for a meeting,” the spokesman said in an email.

A senior administration official in Washington said McChrystal had been summoned to the White House to explain his remarks. The general will attend a regular meeting on Afghan-Pakistan strategy scheduled for Wednesday. Normally, he would have participated in the session via videoconference.

The magazine hits newsstands on Friday and could be posted online earlier in the week. The Washington Post received an advance copy of the article from its author, Michael Hastings, a freelance journalist who has written for the Post. “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile,” McChrystal said in a statement.

The timing of the piece could hardly be worse. Amid a flurry of bad news in Afghanistan and a sharp rise in NATO casualties, US lawmakers and senior officials from NATO allied countries are asking increasingly sharp questions about the US-led war strategy.

The magazine story shows that McChrystal is also facing criticism from some of his own troops who have grown frustrated with new rules that force commanders be extraordinarily judicious in using force.

McChrystal has championed a counterinsurgency strategy that prioritizes protecting the population as a means to marginalisse and ultimately defeat the insurgency. Because new rules sharply restrict the circumstances under which air strikes and other lethal operations that have resulted in civilian casualties can be conducted, some soldiers say the strategy has left them more exposed.

(With inputs from AFP)

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