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According to sources familiar with the meeting, Mc Chrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass.
Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after Mc Chrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better.
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.
"It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to Mc Chrystal.
"I found that time painful," Mc Chrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews.The president had thrown his weight, however hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled.Today, as Mc Chrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn't want."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.