McChrystal said that contrary to Trump’s claim, the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, has not been defeated.
“I don’t believe ISIS is defeated. I think ISIS is as much an idea as it is a number of ISIS fighters. There’s a lot of intelligence that says there are actually more ISIS fighters around the world now than there were a couple of years ago,” he said.
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he doesn't believe ISIS has been defeated.— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 30, 2018
"ISIS is an idea and as long as the fertile ground exists, the causes that cause people to flock to a movement as extreme as ISIS exist, you're going to have it flare back up" https://t.co/jyxuujvGyC pic.twitter.com/G4Uj9sCrPu
McChrystal was forced to resign in 2010 after making disparaging comments about Obama administration officials in a Rolling Stone article.
Trump tweeted this month that “we have defeated ISIS in Syria” and abruptly announced plans to withdraw all U.S. forces from that country, against the counsel of his top advisers. The decision — along with Trump’s directive days later to withdraw nearly half of the more than 14,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan — prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
McChrystal, who recently co-wrote a book on leadership, on Sunday praised Mattis as “selfless” and “committed” and said his departure should give Americans pause. He also decried Trump’s decision on Afghanistan, saying it effectively traded away U.S. leverage against the Taliban and “rocked [the Afghan people] in their belief that we are allies that can be counted on.”
He has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump earlier, as well. Last month, when Trump pushed back against criticism from retired Adm. William H. McRaven by saying the decorated Navy SEAL and Special Operations commander should have caught Osama bin Laden more quickly, McChrystal rallied to McRaven’s defense, saying there has to be a “confidence” in the “basic core values” of the country’s leaders.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, told CNN ahead of a lunch with the president Sunday that he would try to get him to reconsider his decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
But after the lunch, Graham told reporters that he had come around to Trump’s point of view on the troop withdrawal, which he described as “a pause situation.”
“He told me some things I didn’t know that made me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria,” Graham said.
In Sunday’s interview, McChrystal said he would decline if asked to work in the Trump administration, citing what he described as the president’s lack of honesty.
“I’d say no. It’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it,” he said.
He added that although he couldn’t tell others not to support Trump, Americans should ask themselves whether the president embodies the country’s values. “If we want to be governed by someone we wouldn’t do a business deal with because their background is so shady — if we’re willing to do that, then that’s in conflict with who I think we are,” he said. “And so I think it’s necessary at those times to take a stand.”