Tom Ricks reviews David Kilcullen's speech from earlier in the week:

[Kilcullen's] bottom line is that there are two real options in Afghanistan: Either tell the Kabul government we are pulling out, or put in enough troops to actually break the cycle of corruption, which he said would be a minimum of about 40,000. “We either put in enough to control, or we get out.” The worst thing we could do, he added, is put in enough troops to get more people killed but not enough to do anything to break change the behavior of corrupt officials. Also, he said, it is more about what you do than the actual number of troops “If you do it wrong, you could put it a million troops and it wouldn’t make any difference.”

I just don't believe this is doable without a flawless decades-long occupation. And the odds of that are tiny and the cost beyond any rational measurement of costs and benefits. I believe Obama knows this because he is not crazy, but he also knows that withdrawal would be used by the GOP to flay him alive for a war they botched but they insist he must now somehow save.

I'm glad I'm not the president, aren't you?

(Hat tip: Ordinary Gentlemen).

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