It’s easy — and satisfying — to mock the Obama Administration for their serial reviews of war strategy for Afghanistan, as their continuous review process suggests they still haven’t figured out what they’re doing in "the good war." But they’re actually right to hold periodic reviews of whether the war is achieving its objectives. We owe no less to the men and women fighting this arduous campaign than to ensure the risks they are taking are essential to our national security.
Which is not to say the President was right to set an artificial deadline for drawing down the surge force. In announcing as part of the surge that its conclusion would begin in July 2011, the president badly compromised the effectiveness of both the military and political strands of his own strategy.
That strategy consists of taking the fight to the Taliban’s strongholds, building Afghan security forces capable of taking over the fight, dramatically improving Afghanistan’s capacity for governance, setting the domestic and regional relationships conducive to preventing Taliban and al Qaeda resurgence, and handing over provinces to Afghan control as the political and military conditions allow.