I think they were made more difficult, clearly,” he said, because the Iraq invasion “changed the Muslim world’s view of America’s effort. When we went after the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 there was a certain understanding that we had the ability and the right to defend ourselves and the fact that al-Qaeda had been harboured by the Taliban was legitimate.
“I think when we made the decision to go into Iraq that was less legitimate” in the eyes of much of the Muslim world, he said. Iraq also diverted military resources that could have been put to good use in Afghanistan, he said.
Of the remaining tasks to be accomplished, McChrystal said the most difficult may be creating a legitimate government that ordinary Afghans can believe in and that can serve as a counterweight to the Taliban.