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"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 idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.
In the end, however, Mc Chrystal got almost exactly what he wanted.
Mc Chrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him. The general stands and looks around the suite that his traveling staff of 10 has converted into a full-scale operations center.
The tables are crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks, and blue cables crisscross the hotel's thick carpet, hooked up to satellite dishes to provide encrypted phone and e-mail communications.
"I found that time painful," Mc Chrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews.Dressed in off-the-rack civilian casual – blue tie, button-down shirt, dress slacks – Mc Chrystal is way out of his comfort zone.Paris, as one of his advisers says, is the "most anti-Mc Chrystal city you can imagine." The general hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too "Gucci." He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux, (his favorite movie) to Jean-Luc Godard. The city has been rocked by two massive car bombs in the past day alone, calling into question the general's assurances that he can wrest it from the Taliban."We have two KIAs, but that hasn't been confirmed," Flynn says. If you've fucked up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice.Mc Chrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted.It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's ass.
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"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.