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"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.
"The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with Mc Chrystal.
Since Mc Chrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States.
He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually allies.
After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The now-infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn't send another 40,000 troops – swelling the number of U. forces in Afghanistan by nearly half – we were in danger of "mission failure." The White House was furious.
"The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.
It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's ass.
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's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris.
Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops.