We agree that this is an excruciating choice - but he makes the case for doubling down with a full-scale counter-insurgency campaign. It's a compelling piece. The one hole in his argument? How do you fight an insurgency on behalf of a government that is that corrupt and that unpopular and elected through fraud? Then this syndrome:
When you interview people who know little about Afghanistan, they describe an anarchic place that is the graveyard of empires. When you interview people who live there or are experts, they think those stereotypes are rubbish. They usually take a hardened but guardedly optimistic view.
But couldn't that be because the latter are more invested in the place and more likely to wear rose-colored glasses? No one wants to concede failure when they have been invested in success. The job of a political leader is to take the long, cold view of matters. Nonetheless, David's column is well worth reading and pondering.