The Daily Gamecock

Four-star Army general lectures on US leadership

McChrystal speaks at Walker Institute 50th anniversary


His lecture was one of the special events celebrating the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies' 50th anniversary. Having McChrystal come speak for the occasion was "too great of an opportunity," said Gordon Smith, the director of the Walker Institute.

"To have him come for our 50th anniversary was perfect timing," Smith said.

The retired four-star Army general and former commander of the International Security Assistance Force and of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan focused on the importance of understanding and developing relationships in today's world.

"When people try to simplify what goes on in the world, it is arrogant because it is that complex," McChrystal said.

He talked about how through Americans' perspectives, we helped Afghanistan defeat the Soviets during the 1979 invasion by giving them money and aid. However, he said, the Afghanis had a different view. To them, they fought America's Cold War enemy for 10 years while losing 1.2 million Afghanis, McChrystal said.

"Which view is correct?" he asked. "People have their perspectives, so there is no correct view. If we don't understand other people's perspectives, then we run a great risk."

McChrystal went on to talk about how America should deal with the world through engagement.

"Nothing is isolated anymore," he said. "Either we're engaged in the world, or we are engaged by the world."

He said engagement should be carried out not by a large military presence, which would not be sustainable, but through business, education and diplomacy.

McChrystal then narrowed the subject to individual Americans by saying that just paying taxes and voting is not enough.

"Every American must think, 'What is my responsibility?'" McChrystal said. "I don't want everyone in the military, but I think everyone has a responsibility to serve, though."

He said that Americans should do a year of national service.

"When you contribute to something, you view it differently," he said.

McChrystal closed his lecture by saying that if Americans do not have the moral courage to better themselves, then the U.S. can not compete as a nation.

After his lecture, he held a question-and-answer session with the large audience that filled the room.

When asked about eventually pulling out of Afghanistan, McChrystal said he supports American involvement in Afghanistan but that we cannot keep large military forces distributed for a long time.

"We need a strategic partnership with them so they can have security for themselves," he said.

A spectator asked about reinstating the draft, and McChrystal said that he had "mixed feelings" about it. He said that a draft would bring a cross section of people in the military, but an all-voluntary military is great.

"A draft would undercut this tremendous force we've made," he said.

His lecture was very informative for second-year international studies and German student Colby Wilborn.

"It addressed some issues in my courses," he said. "It's refreshing to hear a nonpartisan voice."