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  • This blog post was written by Dr. Laura Freberg, a Professor at Cal Poly

    General McChrystalRetired four-star General Stanley McChrystal shared insights gleaned from his leadership positions in Afghanistan and Iraq with about 1,000 students, faculty, administrators, and community members in the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last night. Among the audience were large contingents of the Cal Poly College Republicans and members of Cal Poly ROTC.

    McChrystal spoke against a backdrop of a large map of the Middle East, featuring Iran in the very center, which reminded the audience that our usual map views, centered on the United States with the Middle East off to the side, do not capture the importance of this region to our interests. Throughout the evening, McChrystal reminded the audience that isolationism is not an option, in spite of our problems at home, noting that “we would pay” for any neglect to the stability of the region.

    In addition to offering a very scholarly summary of Afghanistan’s history, McChrystal shared his first-hand impressions of the Afghan people, from President Karzai to local villagers. The audience was encouraged to try to see world events through the eyes of other people. The key to stability in the region, according to McChrystal, was the formation of relationships that allow people to predict others’ behavior. McChrystal described the Afghans’ view of the United States as well-intentioned, but like a “puppy” that occasionally knocks things over and slobbers. He noted the lack of support for extremists, but cautioned that after 31 years of conflict, the populace would prefer even the Taliban to endless war.

    The program allowed for a generous question and answer period, and discussion ranged from North Korea to education to Wikileaks to McChrystal’s nuanced differentiation between circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. In each case, McChrystal offered succinct, respectful, and thoughtful replies. Although he alluded to the circumstances of his retiring, and stated that he still had a “good relationship” with President Obama, this issue was more of an asterisk to the evening.

    The audience both greeted and said farewell to McChrystal with extended standing ovations, with the notable exception of a number of Cal Poly faculty and administrators seated in the front of the auditorium. There was some noticeable discomfort up front when McChrystal joked about being willing to serve as the next Cal Poly president (a search is currently underway), but the rest of the audience clapped and cheered. It was terrific to see a large number of students in the audience, especially when the least expensive tickets were $25 and final exams begin next week. McChrystal’s unique perspective is one that we hope to see shared on many campuses.

     This blog post was written by Dr. Laura Freberg, a Professor at Cal Poly

    • Readers' Comments

    • Hooray, how wonderful to see conservative ideas springing up on campus. I so wish I had that years ago on the campus of Skidmore college in the 60ties when of the 17 gov majors, I was one of the few conservative students. Hooray again for YAF and all its work.
      Posted by Pat Beveridge on 12/08/2010
    • As a Mustang alumni I was present in the 70's when then Calif Gov. Ronald Reagan spoke at Cal Poly stating this was his "model college filled with hard working students who study and who don't burn banks like at other colleges"( Santa Barbara) I'm glad to see the Cal Poly conservative pro-American tradition continue. I hope more like the General are asked to speak at Cal Poly.
      Posted by Gregg Miller on 12/14/2010
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