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.

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.

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.

"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."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."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.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.