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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.
In the end, however, Mc Chrystal got almost exactly what he wanted.
"I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Even though he had voted for Obama, Mc Chrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect.
Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank.
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.
Then, without ever using the words "victory" or "win," Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, almost as many as Mc Chrystal had requested.
After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.