Could this be a clue to where his thinking remains:

We are going through a very deliberate process that is completely consistent with what I said back in March. At the time, I said we were going to deploy additional troops in order to secure the election. After the election I said it was important for us to reassess the situation on the ground, and that's what we're doing not just on the military side but also on the civilian side ... And I won't provide you a preview of what I've been seeing or hearing. I will tell you that our principal goal remains to root out al Qaeda and its extremist allies that can launch attacks against the United States or its allies. That's our principal mission. We are also obviously interested in stability in the region, and that includes not only Afghanistan, but also Pakistan.

That's from his remarks October 13 with Zapatero. It doesn't sound like a major counter-insurgency to me.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.