10/13/2011 01:16 pm ET | Updated Dec 13, 2011

Inside Obama's War Room

On the afternoon of monday, March 14th, the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy stood nervously in the lounge of Le Bourget Airport on the outskirts of Paris, waiting for a private jet carrying a lone Libyan rebel to land. At 62, Lévy is one of France's most famous writers and provocateurs, a regular fixture in the tabloids, where he's known simply as BHL. He rarely goes a month without controversy - whether defending the reputations of accused sex offenders like Roman Polanski and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or waging one-man foreign-policy campaigns that usually end in failure. In 1993, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade President François Mitterrand to intervene in the Balkans. In 2001, he personally arranged for Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud to meet with President Jacques Chirac, only to have the French Foreign Ministry scuttle the trip for fear of angering the Taliban. Now, as he anxiously paced the airport lounge, he was embarking on what would turn out to be one of the most audacious and improbable feats of amateur diplomacy in modern history.

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