During the campaign, Obama portrayed Afghanistan as the good war. Whatever his intentions in doing so, that position served to paint Iraq as the bad war, while at the same time liberating Democrats from the calumny that they have been perennially soft on national security. But actually winning the war – as opposed to taking deft stances toward it – will require the same level of stick-to-itiveness and willingness to sustain high degrees of unpopularity that Bush displayed when he doubled-down on his bets in Iraq, and that President Abraham Lincoln displayed during the Civil War…

I believe there are in fact good reasons why America is in Afghanistan: the future of a stable, nuclearized Pakistan, as well as of Central Asia, depends upon it. It is also important for containing Iran. Defeat would constitute a moral victory for Islamic terrorists worldwide, and would demoralize our own armed forces. Obama needs to make these points and more. To build the semblance of a stable Afghanistan, he needs to be all in on the issue, and to publicly communicate as much. He can’t finesse Afghanistan: doing so would mean returning war policy to the same degree of ambivalence it held under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when we were not fully committed to the fight in either Iraq or Afghanistan, even as our troops were being killed daily. Returning to the Rumsfeld era would be a supreme irony for Obama, yet that could be the direction we are headed.