Two months ago, Stanley McChrystal was in charge of more than 80,000 American troops in Afghanistan. This fall, he’ll be looking after 20 students in a seminar room at Yale.
McChrystal, a four-star general who was relieved of his command in June after he and his staff were quoted in a Rolling Stone magazine article insulting top White House officials, served in the military for 34 years and played a leading role in developing the military’s counterinsurgency strategy. Now, he will teach a graduate-level seminar in leadership to Yalies studying international relations. Jim Levinsohn, director of the new Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, of which McChrystal is now a senior fellow, said some slots in the seminar will be reserved for undergraduates.
Levinsohn said he hopes the general will teach at Yale in future semesters, as well.
“I think he’ll come at teaching with a wide variety of experiences,” Levinsohn said, adding that he thinks the seminar will approach leadership from a wide variety of perspectives, including but not limited to that of the military.
The Rolling Stone profile that ended McChystal’s military career, titled “The Runaway General,” portrayed an exacting and intelligent man who wrote prize-winning short stories during his time at West Point and accompanied his troops into dangerous situations on the front lines as a general but also derided the president and vice president, showing a disrespect for civilian authority that ultimately cost him his command.
McChrystal said in a statement he is excited to teach at Yale and to share his experiences in the military with students.
John Negroponte ’60, who worked with McChrystal during his tenures as the deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence and who now teaches at Yale, said he thinks McChrystal will talk openly with his students, not only about his time as an officer but also about the recent media debacle.
“I have a feeling they’ll learn his perspective,” Negroponte said. “He’s not going to be reticent about it. I’m sure he’s thinking a lot about how he’s going to present it to students.”
Negroponte said many of his own students in the “Studies in Grand Strategies” program and in his own seminar are interested in public service and will probably work with military officers in their chosen careers. Some are even considering the military themselves, he said.
He added that McChrystal’s knowledge of Iraq and Afghanistan, where he has served in America’s two largest ongoing military operations, would be valuable to anyone interested in those regions.
“Military events and crises are very much a part of history, both in the past and in today’s current events,” Negroponte said. “They give important insight into the affairs of men.”