TODAY   |  January 07, 2013

McChrystal on resigning: ‘I wanted to stay’

The former top commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan is speaking out about his new memoir, “My Share of the Task.” It’s been three years since he resigned over his remarks about President Obama and top military officials.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> retired general stanley m mcchrystal was the top commander in afghanistan three years ago. he resigned after a controversial profile in " rolling stone " magazine where he and his advisers were quoted making some disparaging remarks about the president. now he is breaking his silence about that and other things in his memoir called "my share of the task." general, always good to see you. nice having you here.

>> thanks, matt.

>> chuck hagel , is he qualified for secretary of defense?

>> let me first hijack the the show and wish my wife, annie, happy birthday .

>> good move.

>> i think senator hagel has the experience. he certainly has the quality as a person. the real matter is whether the president has that level of trust .

>> outspoken stance against the war in iraq , comments about israel and israel's influence over congress, are those disqualifiers?

>> i don't think so. you have to predict the future. they're going to face very complex problems which we can't predict. that level of trust and relationship between those people and with other members of the cabinet are the most important.

>> not to put you on the spot, is there another name that jumps out? is there someone that you would have turned to immediately that you would vote for?

>> no.

>> okay. just thought i would try it. you have a quote in your memoir, as you were dealing with the situation in afghanistan there was an emergence of an ununfortunate deficit of trust between the white house and the department of defense . was that distrust a two-way street?

>> yes. i outline in a fair amount of detail, it's about leadership. that's what i'm passionate about. building trust takes time. and it's the essential ingredient of ever solving difficult things, whether it's a marriage, educating kids, fighting a war. you have to build trust between people and organizations.

>> did you distrust the people at the white house ? did you distrust key members of the obama administration when it came to their policy in dealing with afghanistan ?

>> i think what's most important is we spent a lot of timesharing information to try to build trust . trust kochl comes with time, with cooperation and with compromise. i think that's what we worked through.

>> with all due respect, you didn't answer my question. did you distrust key members of the administration in with respect to their handling of the war in afghanistan ?

>> yeah. i still believe that the most important thing we can do is build that trust . over time that's --

>> you're being a good soldier he here. i want to take you back to the " rolling stone " magazine that led to your resignation from your post. there were several demeaning comments attributed to your staff members and even to you. was that article accurate? was that the way you and your staff members felt about those people?

>> it's interesting. in my book i outline that in about a page and a half in a 400-page book because that's the level of its importance. there was a lot of things in leadership i dealt with. what i would say is most important is the positive things. i don't think we need another book where we are finger pointing.

>> were the quotes in that " rolling stone " article that were attributed to your staff members and you accurate? otherwise you should be coming out against " rolling stone " magazine. were they accurate?

>> the most important thing is that's past. i accepted responsibility. i was in command. and as you're in command you're responsible for everything bad that happens and everything good and i respect that.

>> of the president, one of your staff members said this about your first meeting with him where they said he didn't seem to be very engaged. the boss was pretty disappointed. one staffer called him a clown. on the american ambassador to afghanistan , carl ikenberry, you were attributed saying he wanted to cover his flank for the history books because he opposed the encounter with the insurgency. true?

>> in the book i try to get into the big picture and show the holistic relationship with people and in general it was very good.

>> the last meeting you had with the president when he accepted your resignation, did he demand it or simply accept it?

>> i walked into the room with the resignation in my pocket. i offered the president my resignation, but i said i would do whatever was best for the mission.

>> was there part of you that wanted you not to accept it? did you want to stay in the job?

>> i wanted to stay in the job but i wanted to do what was best for the mission. whatever the president felt was best for the mission was what i needed to do. so i was happy to go with whatever decision --

>> let me be a fly on the wall . was he furious about what had come out in that " rolling stone " magazine? did he express your displeasure with you?

>> what was said between the president and i in the oval office really needs to be between us . it was very professional. we had a good relationship before that and i think we still had a good relationship.

>> war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president. and as difficult as it is to lose general mcchrystal i believe it's the right strategy for our national security . the conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general . it undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system . do you agree with that?

>> the president's statement that war is bigger than any single individual is absolutely correct. so when i accepted responsibility, i felt it was important that i do what, as a commander, is best for the mission at that time. i'm very comfortable with that.

>> this is your quote. best leaders are genuine and walk a fine line between self confidence and human ility. when you graduated from west point you wondered if you would turn out to be the kind of military leader that you admired. did you?

>> i think you work on that every day. i think there are days when i did very well and there are days when i didn't. but the key is on the days when you didn't, don't let that become the new standard. push yourself back up to where you know you ought to be every single time.

>> any regrets?

>> not really.

>> general stanley mcchrystal, it's good to see you.

>> thank you, matt.

>> the book is called "my