Over the next month or so, Obama is going to have to make a big decision about whether to commit more troops to Afghanistan. My guess is that, with a heavy heart, he will follow the advice of the military and “double down” – sending even more troops into Afghanistan.
But not only is the situation in Afghanistan itself looking increasingly unpromising. The domestic politics of the war have also shifted against Obama. His natural supporters among centre-left opinion formers are beginning to back away from the war. I thought it was significant that over the weekend, the New York Times’s two main foreign affairs columnists – Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristoff – both wrote highly sceptical columns about the war. Kristoff argues for fewer troops and a pull-back to the cities. Friedman is highly sceptical of the possibility of nation-building in Afghanistan and hints strongly that the US should pull back – although he won’t quite say it. Read more