"I was selling an unsellable position." For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics – a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks.
Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan.
"I found that time painful," Mc Chrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews.
"It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to Mc Chrystal.
"Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was.
The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials.
Nicknamed "COINdinistas" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan.
Besides, the public eye has never been a place where Mc Chrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of the war in Afghanistan, he spent five years running the Pentagon's most secretive black ops. "I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner," Mc Chrystal says. "It's fucking gay."The next morning, Mc Chrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. "hen Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place.
He pauses a beat."Unfortunately," he adds, "no one in this room could do it."With that, he's out the door."Who's he going to dinner with? The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although Mc Chrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. "I want the American people to understand," he announced in March 2009.
Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged.
The Boss was pretty disappointed."From the start, Mc Chrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency.
On December 1st, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the reasons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea: It's expensive; we're in an economic crisis; a decade-long commitment would sap American power; Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan.