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The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials.

Nicknamed "COINdinistas" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan.

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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.

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.

Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged.

The Boss was pretty disappointed."From the start, Mc Chrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency.

All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savvy to implement it.

As Mc Chrystal leaned on Obama to ramp up the war, he did it with the same fearlessness he used to track down terrorists in Iraq: Figure out how your enemy operates, be faster and more ruthless than everybody else, then take the fuckers out.

COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states.

COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation's government – a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve.

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.