Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

2 big warnings from Gen. McChrystal: War in Europe is possible & we’re going to have to give up rights for our security

After eight years at Foreign Policy, here are the ten most popular Best Defense posts.

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan arrives at Combat Outpost Sharp in the Garmsir District. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released via Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan arrives at Combat Outpost Sharp in the Garmsir District. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released via Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan arrives at Combat Outpost Sharp in the Garmsir District. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released via Wikimedia Commons)

Next month, this column will be moving to another platform. But before we go, in celebration of eight happy and productive years at Foreign Policy, here are the most popular items ever to run on the Best Defense. This item, which originally ran on January 25, 2017, is number 5.  

In the new issue of Prism magazine, General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army (Ret.) offers two warnings. Both are kind of hair-raising.

First, he offers the thought that, “A European war is not unthinkable.” He goes on to explain that, “People who want to believe that a war in Europe is not possible might be in for a surprise. We have to acknowledge great power politics; we can’t pretend that they are gone.” And if that whiff of August 1914 isn’t enough, he goes on to speculate that technological progress is so empowering individuals that Americans will have to give up some of our civil rights. “We are beginning an era in which our ability to leverage technology to track people and control populations is going to create a lot of tension; I think we are going to see a lot more population control measures. We are going to have to give up a lot more of our precious civil rights than most of us imagine because we want security.”

Next month, this column will be moving to another platform. But before we go, in celebration of eight happy and productive years at Foreign Policy, here are the most popular items ever to run on the Best Defense. This item, which originally ran on January 25, 2017, is number 5.  

In the new issue of Prism magazine, General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army (Ret.) offers two warnings. Both are kind of hair-raising.

First, he offers the thought that, “A European war is not unthinkable.” He goes on to explain that, “People who want to believe that a war in Europe is not possible might be in for a surprise. We have to acknowledge great power politics; we can’t pretend that they are gone.” And if that whiff of August 1914 isn’t enough, he goes on to speculate that technological progress is so empowering individuals that Americans will have to give up some of our civil rights. “We are beginning an era in which our ability to leverage technology to track people and control populations is going to create a lot of tension; I think we are going to see a lot more population control measures. We are going to have to give up a lot more of our precious civil rights than most of us imagine because we want security.”

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

A propaganda poster from the 1960s shows Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
A propaganda poster from the 1960s shows Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

Xi’s Great Leap Backward

Beijing is running out of recipes for its looming jobs crisis—and reviving Mao-era policies.

A textile worker at the Maxport factory in Hanoi on Sept. 21, 2021.
A textile worker at the Maxport factory in Hanoi on Sept. 21, 2021.

Companies Are Fleeing China for Friendlier Shores

“Friendshoring” is the new trend as geopolitics bites.

German children stand atop building rubble in Berlin in 1948.
German children stand atop building rubble in Berlin in 1948.

Why Superpower Crises Are a Good Thing

A new era of tensions will focus minds and break logjams, as Cold War history shows.

Vacationers sit on a beach in Greece.
Vacationers sit on a beach in Greece.

The Mediterranean as We Know It Is Vanishing

From Saint-Tropez to Amalfi, the region’s most attractive tourist destinations are also its most vulnerable.